When seeking a spiritual director, people sometimes say they want one who will “call them on their bad behavior.” What they mean is they have destructive habits or believe that they are deceiving themselves and want someone to challenge them around those issues.
Spiritual directors rarely do anything of that nature. At least most of us don’t. Why is that? If you ask for it, why won’t we provide it?
We Are Not Your Mother
And you are not a child! Scolding or calling out is not in the spiritual director’s job description. If you want to scold yourself, go right ahead. We are there to accompany you as you explore whatever might be getting in the way of your relationship with your Higher Power.
We Don’t Know What Your “Stuff” Is
Before you ask someone to call you on your stuff, you have to fully explain your stuff. Spiritual directors are good at sitting with you as you talk about your spiritual blocks and challenges. Perhaps the best thing we can do for someone who wants to be called out is simply listen to how they are calling themselves out.
We Assume You are Telling the Truth
If you are telling the truth, there is no need to be called out. If you deceiving yourself in some way, it will probably come to your consciousness as you tell your story and as you are ready. The spiritual director’s job is not to cross examine or extract a confession of any kind. We aren’t spiritual detectives and even if we think you might not be leveling with yourself, the most detective-like thing we would do is ask you an open-ended question about what you just shared.
Deep Sacred Listening is EnoughIt’s so simple yet it is hard to grasp: Spiritual direction involves mostly deep listening on the part of the director—and that is enough. It is enough that two people are meeting in a confidential space, praying together with the director listening, sharing observations and asking honest, open questions. It is enough because the true director is the Spirit, and it is the Spirit that does any “calling out” that’s needed. The gentle, loving, compassionate Spirit of the living God.
You may need a spiritual director for many reasons—support, perception checks or as a sounding board. But you don’t need to be called on the carpet or cross-examined by one. If that’s what you are looking for and believe you really need, a confrontational therapist would be a much better choice.
Want to try spiritual direction? I have openings in my schedule for new directees—regardless of where you live. I can work by phone, Skype or if you live in the Phoenix metro area we can meet in person. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.teresablythe.net. Also visit my website for the Phoenix Center for Spiritual Direction.
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