Spiritual direction is a specialty ministry. It is designed to assist those who long for a companion on their spiritual journey. It’s not particularly goal-oriented like life coaching or diagnostic like therapy.
Not everyone needs spiritual direction. Some people find guidance in a host of other places: within themselves, from friends, from spiritual reading, or by taking classes. So, who needs spiritual direction?
In many cases, people will choose a spiritual director during a particularly significant time in their life—a time when they are experiencing questions, longings, a need for connection with God, and a little help along the way. Some people (especially those in the helping professions) wouldn’t think of being without a spiritual director regardless of what is going on in their lives.
It all boils down to the question Jesus frequently asked people who came to him: “What is it that you need?”
Your spiritual needs usually show up in the form of longings or desires. Here are some common situations people bring to spiritual direction:
- My life is feeling chaotic and I’m wondering where God is in the midst of this. I desire awareness of God.
- I have had an experience of God that I need to talk about with someone who won’t think I’m crazy or a religious fanatic. I need someone who will remain open.
- I am facing a big decision and I want help with prayer and discernment around it. I long to know God’s desire for my life.
- My relationship with God is growing and I want to savor and celebrate it.
- I’m feeling dry and dusty on the spiritual path. I need to explore that.
- I want to be fulfilled in my work—do God’s work—but I’m not sure what that would be.
- I’ve become too busy to pray and I need to talk about why I’m avoiding prayer. I desire self-understanding and change.
- I just need someone to listen to my story without judgment and help me sort out my thoughts and feelings.
- I would like to befriend my emotions and have a more lively relationship with God and others.
- I want someone to share life’s “ups and downs” with—someone who can help me see how God is moving and working in those peaks and valleys.
- Church is not feeding me spiritually and I need someone I can talk to about that.
- The beliefs I held as a child are no longer serving me well. I need to explore what I really do believe now as an adult.
- I am surrounded by conflict and am not sure how God is leading me. I need help sorting out the situation.
These are just a few of the common spiritual longings. All of these are wonderful to explore in spiritual direction. And while the kind of guidance you get in spiritual direction won’t provide you easy answers or a blueprint for success, it may offer you the space to get to know yourself and God a lot better so that the answers come from deep within you. Which—in the long run—has more integrity and staying power.
For more about spiritual direction as I practice it, check out my website. If you have questions or comments about the content of Spiritual Direction 101, please let me hear from you in the reply section below.