Once you have received training in the art of spiritual direction and want to get started as a spiritual director, you then have a lot of smaller decisions to make. Chief among them is what kind of spiritual director am I called to be? There are a lot of ways to be a spiritual director.
Some of us set up private practices and basically “hang a shingle” in order to meet with people one-on-one. We hope to see quite a few directees each month—something on the order of 20 or more. Others do this ministry as a side endeavor to complement other work they do—and they may only take 2 or 3 directees a month. (Many clergy would fit into that model). There are also those who do not see individual clients but seek to transform their current jobs by approaching them “with the eyes of a spiritual director.” (Again, many clergy don’t have time to take on directees but find that spiritual direction skills help them revise the way they do pastoral care with congregants.) Some spiritual directors prefer to only do group spiritual direction. A small but growing number offer their gifts to organizations, doing a kind of corporate spiritual direction. Many of us combine all of the above!
You will want to spend time thinking about three things along these lines:
- What are my gifts for spiritual direction?
- What is my desire for doing spiritual direction?
- Where do I discover the world’s need for spiritual direction?
The solution for you lies in the “sweet spot” where those three answers meet. Let me give you an example. When I first started out as a spiritual director, I had a deep desire to work with church bodies in discernment, and I felt (hoped!) I had gifts for that work. I traveled around offering my services to churches, meeting with boards and pastors. I had very few takers. At that time in my life and the life of these churches, there was no perceived need (by them) for what I was selling. So it was not to be my sweet spot (at least not right away). However, individuals came out of the woodwork looking for spiritual direction. I accepted that as my sweet spot and found my way into private practice.
Sadly, some people have the desire to be a spiritual director in private practice but do not really have the gifts for it. Maybe they do, however, have gifts for group work. God has a way of working all this out in us.
The discernment around what kind of spiritual director you are called to be never ends. While I didn’t get to do the kind of corporate discernment work with churches that I wanted to years ago, I do occasionally get the opportunity to do the work now—some 15 years later. And I am delighted to bring these skills to other aspects of my career, such as assisting the Hesychia School of Spiritual Direction’s Leadership Team in discerning where God is leading us as a school.
Be creative. You never know where your training will lead. Sweet spots abound.
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.