When I was in training to become a spiritual director, the class was told not to even consider doing this work full time, as if it couldn’t be done. I took that as a challenge!
Then I met people who were doing it full-time. Most of them were supported by their religious orders or an institution (a few churches hire full-time spiritual directors) but as years went by I began to meet people, like myself, who were making spiritual direction their life’s pursuit, and were making a living at it without regular support from an institution.
People who apply for the Hesychia School of Spiritual Direction sometimes ask, “Will this certificate allow me to make a living as a spiritual director?” That’s a tough question to answer. How hard are you willing to work? How patient are you willing to be? How much clarity do you have that you are built, trained and gifted to be a full-time spiritual director? How badly do you want it? And, how comfortable are you setting your price and selling yourself as a service?
Are you ready to be a micro-business with all that goes along with it? (Hint: administration and marketing take a lot of time unless you are already a detail-oriented person, which I am not!)
If the answer is, “I just want to work with a few directees a month,” then that’s perfectly fine, and I suspect that is what most spiritual directors do.
If you want to make a living as a spiritual director, you must approach it as a business rather than a hobby or “side-hustle.”
One of my favorite things to do is keep up with graduates of the Hesychia School and find out how they are using spiritual direction. One takes people on spiritual pilgrimages and teaches alongside her practice of one-on-one spiritual direction. Others combine Reiki body work with spiritual direction. Several clergypersons begin to see their congregations as their directee and do their work through new eyes. Quite a few manage spirituality centers and do spiritual direction side by side with others doing similar work. We have had a number of professional counselors get spiritual direction training and expand what they offer to include issues of spirituality.I have all this on my mind this month because I am one of 8 people invited by Spiritual Directors International to participate in a 4-part webinar series called “Making a Living as a Spiritual Director.” This webinar is live in June and will be available long after that to those who register to watch at your convenience.
My focus is on combining a lot of different contract jobs that use the skills of spiritual direction to create income so that I can put most of my effort toward meeting with people or groups in spiritual direction. Although I admit one-on- one spiritual direction work is my favorite, I find that as an introvert, it is good for me to have additional jobs that put me in the public realm. I have combined writing, contract work as a pastoral assistant, contract work with groups and organizations in discernment and the job of running the Hesychia School of Spiritual Direction. It sounds like a lot, but
many times contract jobs are just a few hours each week so it works out well.
The question of “can I make a living at this?” depends on how much money you need to take care of yourself and your family and your ability as an entrepreneur. I invite anyone interested in looking more deeply into this subject to sign up for the SDI webinar and hear a variety of viewpoints on making money by working as a spiritual director.
Are you interested in being in spiritual direction? I have openings in my schedule for new directees — regardless of where you live. I can work by phone or 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.