What is a Spiritual Director? What is Christian Spiritual Direction?

To listen to someone share their story and guide them in their walk with Jesus is a great joy and honor. That’s what spiritual directors do for people. 

The ministry of Christian spiritual direction is an ancient Christian practice in which one person cares for another with spiritual care and guidance for their relationship with God. 

Soul Shepherding’s approach to spiritual direction is informed by Christ-centered psychology and emphasizes empathy, growing in the CHRIST stages of faith (from Journey of the Soul), and utilizing our specialized tools for soul care. 

Sadly, wise empathy and gentle strength are in short supply today — even among Christian shepherds and friends.  

Often when you’re personally vulnerable with someone they give you heady questions, practical advice, Bible verses to “encourage” you, their own story they want to tell, or cheery reassurance that everything will turn out okay. Those are not helpful responses. 

Unlike many expressions of Christian discipleship and Bible teaching, Christian spiritual direction is not about developing the right Christian beliefs and behaviors — it focuses on your personal experience in your relationship with God to help you become more aware and appreciative of the Spirit’s loving presence that surrounds you always. 

In fact, the real director of the spiritual direction process is not the person hosting the conversation, it’s the Holy Spirit. The human director simply serves an ambassador to the Spirit of Christ to minister God’s continual friendship (2 Cor. 5:20).

Let’s turn to the Bible to further understand what a Spiritual Director is and to illustrate Christian spiritual direction ministry:

  • Ruth and Naomi journeyed together to find Yahweh in a season of grief (Ruth 1:16-17).
  • David and Jonathan became soul friends, even though they were natural competitors (1 Samuel 18:1-3).
  • The Sons of Korah banded together to compose, pray, and sing Psalms of praise and lament and then they invited other people to join them (e.g., Psalms 42, 46, and 84).
  • Elizabeth listened and prayed with her young cousin Mary while they both were pregnant and they formed a special bond (Luke 1:39-45).
  • Jesus spoke heart-to-heart with the Samaritan woman at the well and she drank the living water that flowed from his belly (John 4:4-42; 7:37-39).
  • Ananias ministered hospitality, listening, healing prayer, and encouragement to Saul (Paul) who just a few days earlier was prepared to kill him (Acts 9:10-18).
  • Mary Magdalene met with the eleven frightened apostles, waiting for the risen Christ to appear to them just as he had to her (John 20:11-23).
  • Paul wrote letters of spiritual nourishment and instruction to minister the grace and peace of Christ to people.


Are you called to be a spiritual director?

Soul Shepherding’s approach to training Christian spiritual directors is unique — it’s experiential rather than academic and based in homes and churches rather than monasteries. 

Instead of just talking about spiritual direction and studying it in books, we emphasize giving you experiences in an authentic community of Jesus lovers for you to receive spiritual direction for yourself, experiment with soul care practices, and be supervised while you provide spiritual direction for friends or people in your ministry.  

You’ll grow in emotional-relational health, improve your skills in your current ministry, and be equipped to start your own ministry business of providing spiritual direction for clients. 

Soul Shepherding also has a team of Sr. Spiritual Directors who are available to give you the empathy, guidance, and prayer you need. They’ve been personally trained in our model of spiritual direction that’s Christ-centered and psychologically informed. You can learn more and schedule a time to connect here.       

In this previous episode of Soul Talks, Bill and Kristi share an example of a chance encounter that turned into an organic spiritual direction conversation.        

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Listen to this week’s Soul Talks podcast: “An Example of Spiritual Direction.” It’s becoming increasingly difficult to make space and give our attention and energy to organic, deep, face-to-face relationships. Spiritual direction helps to stir up conversations that are prayerful and authentic and encourage us in our formation in Christ. Hear a real-life example of a chance encounter that turned into a natural spiritual direction conversation. 

 

 

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