Companions with the Spirit: The Ministry of Spiritual Direction -- By: Tom Schwanda
RAR 13:3 (Summer 2004) p. 11
Companions with the Spirit:
The Ministry of Spiritual Direction
Julie has become frustrated. In recent months her prayer life has grown flat and predictable. The former conversations of prayer which often brought delight and intimacy with God have been exchanged for the lonely echo of her own voice. The joy of discovering new truths and of being reminded of God’s faithfulness through reading Scripture has become an empty exercise full of distractions. Worship which was once a vibrant experience of God’s presence has also grown stale and tedious. While she is faithful in her longing, God seems to be distant and very silent. Finally she summons her courage and speaks to her pastor about this growing discontentment with her spiritual life. Her pastor wisely suggests that she visit a spiritual director to help her explore more fully the spiritual dynamics and reasons for this expanding and disturbing change.
Rueben is facing a very different challenge. He has served his present church for twelve years. Over this period the congregation has grown steadily in both size and depth. Mission giving has doubled, the attendance in the adult classes has increased by thirty-five percent, the congregation has developed a relationship with a nearby middle school to provide tutoring, and ten new small groups have been started and are thriving. However, Rueben is beginning to wonder if it is time
RAR 13:3 (Summer 2004) p. 12
for a new pastoral challenge. Recently a number of churches have expressed interest in him. One church in particular has met with him twice and their pulpit search committee is prepared to extend to him a call. But he questions whether he should leave or stay. One Thursday morning after a clergy gathering he mentions his struggle to a fellow pastor who suggests he visit a spiritual director to assist him in discerning which direction the Holy Spirit might be leading him.
Both of these scenarios capture the reality of life. They freeze in time just two of the many reasons why a person might visit a spiritual director.1 Spiritual directors can also assist us in working through distorted and unbiblical images of God, seeing God in all areas of life, wrestling through periods of doubt, learning how to lament and cry out to God in times of crisis, and navigating the challenges of major transitions in life to name just a few of the reasons for seeking spiritual counsel. The biblical practice of guiding souls to God imprinted throughout the pages of the Old and New Testaments did not stop with the early church. Historically this ministry of soul care has always played a significant role within the Protestant and evangelical church.
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