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What is spiritual direction?

In earlier periods of church history it was common to have individuals serving as care givers of the soul. Cura animarum was the common Latin phrase connoting “cure” and “care” which described those who came alongside of others in their spiritual pilgrimage.

In earlier periods of church history it was common to have individuals serving as care givers of the soul. Cura animarum was the common Latin phrase connoting “cure” and “care” which described those who came alongside of others in their spiritual pilgrimage.

  Later this function became known as spiritual direction most prominent in the Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran churches. The resurgence of interest in this process today is now more widely expressed.

Basically, spiritual direction is a conversation between the person and the spiritual director that offers a place of safety and soul hospitality in which to notice and explore how God is working in that person’s life within their own story. There is a strong emphasis on listening to the person’s story and to where they experience or notice God. The focus is on helping them to hear God and listen to Him better.

David Benner in Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship and Direction comments that spiritual direction is not new, not authoritarian, not giving advice, not discipling, not preaching, not moral guidance, not counseling or teaching.

 “In its classical form, spiritual direction is a one-on-one relationship organized around prayer and conversations directed toward deepening intimacy with God…[spiritual directors] seek to help those with whom they journey to discern the presence and leading of the Spirit of God – the One Jesus sent as our true Spiritual Director.” (David Benner, Sacred Companions, 17)

Spiritual direction helps in cultivating a deeper personal relationship with God. In this process there are three relationships: the directee, the director and God. The primary relationship is their relationship to God individually and then together. The focus is on increasing an awareness of God in the midst of life’s experiences.

The apostle Paul prayed, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…”Galatians 4:19. The forming process in spiritual formation is God shaping or forming us into the image of Christ, through the Holy Spirit. It is the restoration of the imago dei, God’s image that He created humans to have but was lost at the Fall. Spiritual direction is one relationship that helps in the re-forming process. The practice in which, with another, we pay attention to the Triune God in this formation work, growing in responding to God in an ever-more intimate relationship of love.

I will explore other facets of spiritual direction in future postings. For now consider looking at these two web sites to learn more about spiritual direction:

Nouwen Legacy Associates http://www.nouwenlegacy.com/community.php

Evangelical Center for Spiritual Wisdom www.esdassociation.org
 

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Gail Seidel

Gail Seidel served as Mentor Advisor for Spiritual Formation in the Department of Spiritual Formation and Leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) and as an Adjunct Professor in the D Min in Spiritual Formation in the D Min Department at Dallas Theological Seminary. She has a BA in English from the University of Texas, a Masters in Christian Education from Dallas Seminary and a D Min in Spiritual Formation from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She is a contributor to the textbook, Foundations of Spiritual Formation, Kregel Academic. She served as co-director for Christian Women in Partnership Russia with Entrust, an international church leadership-training mission. She and her husband Andy live in Fredericksburg, Texas. They have 2 married children and 6 wonderful grandchildren--Kami, Kourtney, Katie, Mallory, Grayson, and Avery.