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Understanding Spiritual Direction

Article by Reverend Danny Rhoades

When considering church leaders to approach for advice or counsel, your pastor or teachers in your church may come to mind. However, a spiritual director may be a better fit. Spiritual direction is a unique form of counseling that takes the divine into account while helping you navigate whatever issues you are facing. If you are considering finding a spiritual director, there are a few things to keep in mind.

What Can You Expect From a

 Spiritual Director?

Before you begin searching for spiritual directors in your area, it’s important to understand why you are interested in their services. While you may go to your pastor for 

 advice on a specific decision, your relationship with your spiritual director is likely to go much deeper. In some ways, it may be helpful to think of spiritual direction as a long-term mentorship. There are several benefits to finding someone who is a good fit for you and cultivating such a partnership.

Discernment in Decision-Making

Many people of faith find it easy to make small daily decisions but struggle with larger ones. Others know exactly where they want to be in five or ten years but have no idea about the steps they need to get there. Regardless of where you fall on this spectrum, a spiritual director can help you learn how to listen for God’s guidance in everything you do.

Arriving at the best decision often goes beyond making a list of pros and cons. What looks good on paper may not be the best course of action for your spiritual growth. For example, taking a job with better pay seems like a no-brainer, but if it takes you away from your family more often or means that you can’t be as involved with your church as you’d like to be, you may decide it’s not worth the slight increase in salary. A spiritual director helps you learn to take all the aspects of your life into account so that you can make decisions that truly work well for you.

Deeper Intimacy With God

A spiritual director can help you get closer to God. While attending church, praying, and doing good works can boost your spiritual life, most people of faith experience seasons in which the things that usually bring them joy seem empty or even meaningless. The discipline of practicing the presence of God can help you walk through these dry times. Spiritual direction can teach you the tools you need to maintain your faith through doubt.

Many believers long to help make the world a better place. However, with so many choices, it’s often difficult to know where to start. Spiritual directors help their clients find their niche. By listening to what brings you joy, your spiritual director can assist you with identifying your passions and discovering your place in the work God is already doing.

How Do You Find the Right Spiritual Director?

Once you’ve decided that having a spiritual director would be helpful, the next task is finding one who is a good fit for you. If you ascribe to a certain religion, start with those who share your basic core beliefs. Alternatively, you may want a different perspective from the one you get at church and thus decide to choose someone from a different denomination.

Many spiritual directors don’t require that their clients agree with them theologically. In fact, Unitarian Universalist spiritual directors cater to those who identify as spiritual but not necessarily religious or are looking for counsel that is free from moral judgment.

No matter what your needs are, it is beneficial to have a mentor who can help you grow spiritually. If you are looking for ways to have a deeper relationship with God, finding a spiritual director may help.