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  • Writer's pictureNiecy LoCricchio

What is a Spiritual Director and do I need one?

What is a spiritual director?

Ideas about what a spiritual director is and what they do can bring up positive or negative images, depending on a person’s faith tradition and experience with faith institutions. Images about spiritual directors may range from self-righteous religious bully to guru guide to spiritual bliss. Neither should be the case!

A spiritual director is, quite simply, a listening companion to someone on their spiritual journey. In various traditions directors might have been the apostles, teachers, evangelists, priests/pastors within congregations. In other traditions they might be spiritual elders or mentors; the spiritually mature lay people of the church. Spiritual directors might be known as soul friend or spiritual guide or counselor.

Most essentially, a spiritual director, in the Christian tradition, is a disciple of Jesus and committed to attending to the care of souls. Different Christian traditions will have different approaches to spiritual direction but in Christian spiritual direction it is the Holy Spirit who is recognized as the true Spiritual Director. The spiritual direction session is recognized as a conversation of three: director, directee, and our Triune God.

The spiritual director makes space to be present with the Holy Spirit and the person who desires a deeper spiritual journey (the directee). Through attending to the everyday events, thoughts and feelings of the directee, together, they become gently curious and attentive, seeking to discover God’s movement in the life of the directee, so that the directee might draw deeper into God’s loving embrace. Our journey as Christ followers is the realization of our true-self in Christ and living in an intimate communion with God in the midst of our everyday life. The journey of spiritual direction is towards wholeness, holiness and the healing that comes through a deeper knowing of Jesus.

Do I need a spiritual director?

If you are thinking about finding a spiritual director, consider asking yourself these three questions:

1. Do I desire a deeper journey with God?

2. Am I willing to be uncomfortable as I seek to draw near to Him?

3. Will I make a once-a-month commitment to attend to my life and God’s movement in my life with the listening ear of another?

If you answer yes to all three of these questions, then spending time with a spiritual director will likely be a worthwhile investment of your time and money and a fruitful endeavor on your spiritual path.

The spiritual journey was never meant to be done in isolation. It was always meant to be lived in community. In seeking a deeper journey with God, we all know how easy it is to be blind to the realities of our own life and circumstances. We simply don’t know what we don’t know. We need the gentle presence of another to bear witness to our life – to speak with grace, kindness and curiosity at our unnoticed discrepancies, and to encourage us when our faith feels thin or life feels overwhelming.

This journey takes time and commitment, and a willingness to be wrong, as well as right about one’s self. It can be uncomfortable to be transparent about one’s life and emotions. Yet, God is in the very midst of it all, welcoming us with grace, love and forgiveness. God speaks through our circumstances, thoughts and emotions. The listening presence and gentle curiosity of a spiritual director can expand our view enough to help us listen a little more clearly, surrender a little more fully, and give our self the same love and grace that God pours over us. It is in the power and presence of His love where we are transformed.