Phil Miglioratti of the National Pastors Prayer Network and the Reimagine Network interviewed me about spiritual direction and discipleship and it may be helpful to understand how I think about my work as a spiritual director.
I am a reader. I read several books about spiritual direction before finding a spiritual director myself. My first introduction to the concept of spiritual direction was a fictional series of books about Anglican clergy in mid-20th century England, the Starbridge series by Susan Howatch. These are definitely fiction, but each book is about an Anglican clergyperson and a spiritual crisis of one sort or another. All have spiritual direction and God’s grace as components of healing. These are a bit melodramatic stories, but after reading the series, I was committed to finding a spiritual director.
There are three books I recommend about seeking a spiritual director and how to get started. Starting Spiritual Direction: A Guide to Getting Ready, Feeling Safe, and Getting the Most Out of Your Sessions by John Mabry, Navigating the Interior Life: Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God by Daniel Burke and Abba, Give Me a Word: The Path of Spiritual Direction by Roger Owens (links are to reviews on my blog)
Starting Spiritual Direction is the shortest and the most directly about what to expect from spiritual direction and how to get started. Abba, Give Me a Word is written by a protestant pastor telling his story of why he found a spiritual director and how he found it helpful. Navigating the Interior Life is from a clearly Catholic perspective. Still, that different perspective on spiritual direction can be helpful to see how wide the field of spiritual direction is and is very practical in approach.
Generally, sessions are about an hour, and usually, they are roughly once a month. Often I tend to start with 3 minutes of silence to set the tone of a meeting and draw a break from all that has gone on before the meeting started.
From that initial silence, meetings can go in many ways. It is helpful to have something to start with, a report of a spiritual experience, an issue that is bothering you, or a matter for prayer. It is a good idea to make a memo on your phone or in a journal or somewhere that you can review before the meeting to give a place to start. Often once the conversation is going, it will naturally flow throughout the meeting.
Many people are uncomfortable with silence in conversations. But spiritual direction meetings are not just standard conversations. It is common for there to be a bit of silence. Silence can be a good time to process emotions and thoughts in healthy ways.
Generally, I will ask you for a specific prayer request toward the end of each session. It is my practice to pray for you between meetings, and I want to do that informed by your requests and my own sense of God’s direction for you as I pray.