Thursday, June 10, 2021
When my wife, Jeanette announced to me in 1994 that she was wanting to embark on a three year part-time training programme to become a Spiritual Director I was, to be honest, more than a wee bit sceptical. Though at the time she had been in spiritual direction for a few years this was lifting the game to another level. It’s worth pointing out that Jeanette was a Pentecostal at heart. We met at an AOG church in Wellington and as a couple in ministry we had a strong charismatic bent. We still do. I guess deep down I was worried that:
- She was going to become quite withdrawn and excessively contemplative (even though there had been no signs of that to date).
- That her natural love of adventure and her interest in all things…….shall we say ‘bohemian’ (a trait that attracted me to her in the first place) would be curbed even shut down.
- Three day silent retreats seemed just plain scary to me……….. not to mention seven days……….seriously, what has happened to you?
- And besides who needs someone else to ‘direct’ your spiritual growth anyway…..rah rah rah…..?
All of these fears were baseless. I didn’t need to worry. Jeanette’s training as a Spiritual Director was then and still is a blessing to me, to our our family and heaps of people who she has had the privilege to interact with and minister amongst. And what’s more it enhanced her personality to the point that she may have become a little more bohemian……just maybe!
So we had a chat about it a few weeks ago.
A. Why did you become a Spiritual Director?
J. I became a Spiritual Director so I could understand and practice a deeper form of listening in my pastoral care role but also for myself personally as I desired to move into a deeper relationship with God. My soul was hungry for more and to be in a place of growth.
A. How did it help you?
J. A gifted Spiritual Director is one who is very much a companion or soul friend on a person's journey and they can assist you into the very presence of God. A Director is somebody who will listen and pray with you about your life. The goal being spiritual formation. A Director will help you to explore God's presence, voice and activity in your life.
A. How is SD different to Counselling?
J. Spiritual Direction is different to counselling. It’s a unique relationship whereby the Director is attentive to what God is saying and doing in another’s life. It's a mutual, shared relationship. Hence spiritual direction training is very important. A Spiritual Director takes a secondary role as a facilitator, listening for the movement of God in another person. A counsellors role is more primary as they seek to listen for the movements and patterns in a person that have caused them grief and then help them address a problem(s).
A. Does SD help you sort out your ‘stuff’ (otherwise known as crap1)?
J. Spiritual Direction certainly helps you to face up to things in your deeper inner soul and helps you to become more attentive to God. In that respect yes it definitely helps you sort out your crap. it's easy for people in ministry to coast along, being busy doing the work of ministry but not be growing and changing in your own spiritual journey with God. Spiritual Direction works profoundly if the directee is willing to be honest, stretched and changed even when its gets uncomfortable or hard.
A. Why do you think Pastors should consider SD?
J. I definitely think pastors would benefit from Spiritual Direction. The key is to find a Director that is further ahead than you on their Spiritual growth and with who you really connect with. This is not necessarily somebody older than you or somebody with the same church affiliation as you. My suggestion would be to meet a Spiritual Director and get acquainted before you commit to the relationship. I trained with Spiritual Growth Ministries and would highly recommend this NZ based organisation.//
Without a doubt I have been helped by Jeanette’s SD. It has helped me to slow down, to contemplate (reflect) and pray a lot more, to journal from time to time, to be less judgemental and much more respectful of other people’s spiritual journey. She has encouraged me to read a genre of books and literature that I may not have otherwise read and last but not least it has helped me be a better mentor. For personalities like me I would say that a good dose of SD is essential. Us sorts need to give God time to do what He alone can do deep in our souls.
Last year Jeanette wrote and published a little book titled, “An ordinary life lived in a moment of time loving an extraordinary God”. It’s a moving story of her life, growing up with a mentally unwell father, ‘supernaturally’ coming to faith at 19 years old, being widowed at 26 and what she refers to as her ‘Grace conversion’. Cost $15.00 (incl. P & P). If you hit reply to this email or drop Jeanette an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your postal address she will send you a copy and payment details.
1 I thought you might be interested in this little definition simply because we all have some of this. The word crap is actually of Middle English origin and predates its application to bodily waste. Its most likely etymological origin is a combination of two older words: the Dutch krappen (to pluck off, cut off, or separate) and the Old French crappe (siftings, waste or rejected matter), from the medieval Latin crappa.
Dr Elisabeth Taylor is speaking at two mini-seminars titled ‘Sexuality and Gender’ in Hamilton and Tauranga on Thursday 8th July. Information and Registration details here.