Spiritual Direction: A Definition

The practice of Spiritual Direction is ancient and takes as its foundation the biblical precedent that when perplexed we are to look for Christ’s guidance in the words of another. Ecclesiastes 4 (vv 9,12c) informs us that two are better than one because the results of their efforts are magnified, and a cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Jesus promised his disciples that wherever two or more gathered in his name, he would be in their midst. After his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus Paul cries out, “What am I to do, Lord?” and is instructed, “[G]o into Damascus, and their you will be told (by Ananias) what to do.” As he read the Scriptures, the Ethiopian Eunuch exclaimed, “How can I understand, unless someone explains it to me?”

Spiritual Direction is the communal practice of focusing our attention on the experience of another so as to notice the work of God in the midst of life’s tumult. It is a three-way effort, with the directee sharing, the director listening, and the Spirit supervising. The spiritual director must be attending not just to the voice of the directee but also to the work of the Spirit, whether revealed in the narrative or perceived as they listen. The goal of spiritual direction is ongoing conversion to the image of Christ by observing and responding to the promised work of God in our lives.

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