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Directional Faith | Why Christian Spiritual Direction?

Why Christian Spiritual Direction?

Image showing the road to faith

Choosing a Spiritual Director – Does it Matter?

Spiritual direction can be applied to most faith traditions, but at Directional Faith, the focus is on Christian spiritual direction. Why do I focus solely on Christianity? Because I believe that I can best serve you as a Christian spiritual director – while not trying to be everything to everybody.

Modern Spiritual Direction

In many circles, modern spiritual direction is evolving into something slightly different. Some key differences separate it from traditional spiritual direction. Understanding these differences can be key in choosing a spiritual director.

First, many modern spiritual directors are open to seeing clients of any faith tradition, whether they are Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or “just spiritual.” In sessions like these, they may use more universal terms for God and try not to reference Jesus, God the Father, the Holy Spirit, or even the Church itself.

Another difference is that the approach of many modern spiritual directors centers around reflective listening. This is an approach where the director simply listens and asks reflective questions back to the directee with the hope of inspiring them to search for the answers within themselves. This has evolved from modern therapy practices attributed to Carl Rogers. My approach is a little more direct, and 100% focused on developing a relationship with Christ.

While these are valid approaches to spiritual direction, my goal is to take Directional Faith in a different direction. For those of a different faith background, here is a link to finding a spiritual director of your own faith background.

Modern Christian Spiritual Direction

New ideas in society help the church to continue to grow in the modern world, but that does not mean that we need to abandon the traditional practices that have been successful for countless generations. With that in mind, I plan to blend modern technology, tools, and techniques with traditional Christian spiritual direction.

First and foremost, I believe that a deeper faith begins with a more intimate relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Using universal language for God will not allow us to accomplish that goal. We may come from different denominations, but we can find commonality in Jesus.

Second, I believe in a more direct relationship. Reflective listening can work in the right situations, but it is not the only approach. Modern psychology itself acknowledges this. Assuming that all of my directees simply need me to ask the right question is simplifying things too much.

Instead, my approach is a spin on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which is a more active approach based on the teachings of Aaron Beck. I am not an expert in psychology, by any means, but my high-level study of this approach reminds me of the Ignatian spirituality that guides my living. Through a “Cognitive Spirituality,” we can directly address the roadblocks to a deeper faith in your life.

Spiritual Direction for Every Christian

One question that comes up is whether to see a director from a different Christian denomination. For that question, I will leave you to discern the answer. But for a little insight, I believe that it may depend on the situation.

Personally, I believe in an ecumenical approach to spiritual direction – working with Christians from any denomination.

Ecumenical group of Christians from different backgrounds

First, you should understand my own faith background. I grew up and was confirmed in the Lutheran church (although faith did not stick at that point). Years later, I first found Jesus on my own. At first, I was alone on the journey, but I eventually settled into Evangelical and nondenominational churches. A decade later, I chose to convert to Catholicism, which is where I fell in love with St. Ignatius of Loyola over 10 years ago.

I mention my background because I believe that it allows me to empathize with a variety of Christian denominations. As a former Lutheran, I feel at home speaking about mainline Protestant traditions. As someone who was “born again,” I am comfortable with Evangelical ideas. And as a Catholic convert, I am well-versed in more traditional theology.

The first question, then, is “what is your goal for spiritual direction?”

If you are discerning the life of a Protestant pastor, you might want to consult one. At the same time, you may want an independent view of the matter, which I can provide. For the most part, though, if you believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, most Christian spiritual directors can be of service to you.

Generally, most of us would agree with the tenets of the Nicene Creed, first published in 325 A.D. – long before we splintered into a million denominations. If we can find common ground in that, we can go from there.

Spiritual Direction’s Christian History

A cave of the desert fathers who were the first spiritual directors

In the early church, many chose to leave city life to approach a life closer to God, and they did this by moving to the desert. The desert fathers, as they are known, became spiritual guides for many people that wanted to develop a stronger relationship with Jesus, as well.

Spiritual direction in this context was very direct. In fact, complete compliance was expected. It is definitely at the other end of the extreme from reflective listening. Reflective listening is a very passive approach, whereas the spiritual direction of the desert fathers was more direct (hence the name, spiritual direction).

This more direct approach worked for generations and allowed the church to continue to grow and thrive. Spiritual direction was more common until it became a practice primarily used by clergy members. The good news is that spiritual direction in Christianity is making a comeback as the laity, like myself, take on this ministry of trying to guide others to Jesus.

Learning from the more direct approach of the desert fathers, blending in modern reflective techniques, and focusing on cognitive spirituality, I hope this approach helps the church grow in the 21st century.

What’s Next?

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