Christian Spiritual Direction: The 5 W’s & H
As a college journalism student, many more years ago than I care to count, I was taught that the lead (first paragraph) in a news story should answer the 5W’s and H questions: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. That way if the article was cut (shortened for space), readers would still get the story. Journalists, in those days, also respected their readers’ time, so important facts appeared first, with details and quotes left to later paragraphs. In keeping with sound journalistic tradition, this post serves as lead paragraph of a much longer story of Christian Spiritual Direction. Future posts will get more into the details.
What is Christian Spiritual Direction? Christian Spiritual Direction is a contemplative, holy listening ministry, through which directors serve as trusted companions on their directees' spiritual journeys. They assist their directees to reflect on God’s presence and to notice the Holy Spirit’s movement in their lives, especially in the ordinary things of life. Spiritual direction is not about directees being directed in an active sense, but about finding their spiritual direction toward God and discerning how best to respond to His invitations to live a more fulfilling Christian life.
Why is Christian Spiritual Direction valuable? God's greatest desire is for us to accept His love and to live our lives in loving relationship with the Holy Trinity, with each other, our faith communities, and the world. A Christian life also is a spiritual journey to God, during which He invites us into a conversation with Him, to become like Jesus Christ, to be reconciled with Father and our souls healed, and with the help of the Holy Spirit to spread the gospel, minister to others, and work to redeem His creation. Spiritual direction helps directees to find their place with God and His mission.
Who benefits from Christian Spiritual Direction? Anyone who has a desire to engage with God through prayer, contemplation, and honest sharing may benefit. Some people view spiritual direction as a life-long spiritual discipline. Others enter spiritual direction for a specific purpose, such seeking guidance during a life transition, a crisis of faith, or a difficult question. Others are searching for purpose, meaning, a richer inner life, a deeper relationship with God, or all four. As each of our spiritual journeys are unique, so are our reasons for being in spiritual direction and how long we stay.
When and where do Christian Spiritual Direction sessions happen? Sessions usually last about an hour and occur about once a month; sometimes more frequently, sometimes less. Where directors and directees meet varies. Most directors prefer to meet in a small office, which is set up as an inviting place to talk and which ensures confidentiality and privacy. Some directors offer long distance direction via the phone, Skype, Facetime, or the equivalent. What is of paramount importance is to meet someplace that is private, quiet, comfortable, and with minimal distractions.
How are Christian Spiritual Direction sessions conducted? How sessions are structured depends on directees' interests and needs. Often, they start with prayer (either aloud or silent), as prayer is the primary way we engage with God and He with us. Directees are then invited to share how God has engaged with them or not since their last session or they may be asked how would they would like to use this time. The primary conversation is between directees and God. No topic is off limits as God is in everything and everyone. Sessions often end as they begin, with prayer.
Christian Spiritual Direction is not counseling, therapy, coaching, or confession. By deeply listening, praying for their directees and for guidance, and offering prayerful reflections, directors help their directees to become more aware of God's presence and movement in their lives, what may be drawing them closer to or away from God, and what may or may not be beneficial for their spiritual growth.
If Christian Spiritual Direction is something you would like to explore or you have been in spiritual direction and are looking for a spiritual director, please call BJ Spanos at 404.771.9335 to set up a let's get acquainted session.
May God bless and protect you.
Certified Grief Recovery Specialist®
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