What is Spiritual Direction?
Christian Spiritual Direction is the practice whereby one person helps another to pay attention to God, and to God’s presence, voice, and sanctifying work in his or her life. As the two disciples on the road to Emmaus experienced (Luke 24), it is the shared noticing of Jesus, revealed in Scripture and the daily events of a walk and a meal, attended to in feelings of disappointment and hope, of joy and burning hearts.
Spiritual direction is God-oriented rather than goal-oriented–giving one’s attention to God rather than to a particular problem that needs to be fixed or behavior that needs to be modified. It is responsive rather than directive, listening together to the Holy Spirit’s presence and ways rather than the director telling the directee what to do. It is about listening with–together noticing senses of God’s voice and direction–rather than talking to. It occurs in an atmosphere of loving trust; trusting that God is for us (not against us), in love, and that God’s work over time is about transforming us into the image of Christ, through the loving shaping of his Holy Spirit, so that we might live life fully, and to the Father’s glory.
Spiritual direction meetings between a director and directee usually occur once a month, for an hour each time.
Spiritual direction occurs in an atmosphere of prayerful listening. Often beginning and ending in silent prayer, to create an awareness of God’s presence with the director and directee, it’s common for the director to ask a directee to return to a few moments of silence in the middle of a session, again to clear away the clutter of talk and notice more deeply what the Holy Spirit may be saying.
Spiritual Direction conversations include all the “stuff” of ordinary life–vocation, relationships, circumstances, health, the life of worship and prayer and service, joys and sorrows, boredoms and adventures–and seek to notice God’s presence, work, and invitations in the midst of those.
Begin by praying. God, who is stirring this desire in you, is also working to meet that desire!
Then prayerfully make contact with potential directors, by email and/ or by phone. Ask them about their theology of spiritual direction—how do they understand what happens in the direction session? How do they try to pay attention to God’s presence? What might regular times with them look like? As you listen to their answers, notice what goes in your own internal reactions. Is there a particular director with whom you feel a desire and freedom to share more deeply? Do you sense this as a relationship where already, in your back-and-forth conversation, there’s an awareness of the Holy Spirit’s presence and leading?
Once you identify a potential director, set up a time to meet. (Although in-person direction is preferable, some directors do offer direction by phone or skype.) Unless it’s clear right away that this isn’t what or who you want, you’ll meet a further one to two times, before together discerning if this is a direction relationship that the Lord is inviting you into. Then you’ll commit to a period of time together, usually a year, before further evaluation.
Clarify with the director where you will meet, how often, and how you will offer financial compensation for his or her ministry. (Some directors request a particular amount, others suggest a scale based on your ability and freedom to give, others are covered already by their ministry organization. Do be prepared to offer something, either to them or to their ministry organization, for this is a ministry for which people have invested time and money in training, and your contribution enables them to give time to it.)
Listing of Spiritual Directors
As a service to those seeking spiritual direction, LTI provides a listing of people who have received a Certificate of Completion of training in LTI’s Selah Program. They are “trained” spiritual directors, not “certified” spiritual directors (there’s no certifying oversight body in the U.S. so claims of being “certified spiritual directors” are misleading). Because there’s no certifying body, the only guarantee we may make is that those listed here have completed their training in good standing, with some measure of discernment as to their desire and call to offer the ministry of spiritual direction. Confirmation of that call is granted by the Holy Spirit, and is experienced through the Spirit’s work in the director and their practice in the context of the community of faith, and ultimately only you and the director will know if you are a good match for each other. Each person listed here is individually responsible as a solo practitioner, and not employed by LTI in their role as a spiritual director. By accessing and using this list to connect with a spiritual director, you understand and agree that LTI is in no way responsible for the acts, omissions, or services of any of the members listed, and we make no guarantee that any individual here will be a good match for you. Finally, this list is intended to help you connect with a spiritual director. Please do not use this for any other purposes.
Note: The directors listed here have made the additional commitment of adopting our shared Selah Rule of Life for the nurture and integrity of their spiritual direction ministry practice. This includes receiving ongoing spiritual direction and supervision themselves, attending at least one retreat or conference each year that nurtures and refines their call as a spiritual director, and making an annual assessment of their direction ministry practice and life.