How can spiritual direction and spiritual friendship play a role in your own spiritual journey?
It is an interesting thought to think about a pastor getting/needing spiritual direction, as most in the membership of congregations would think pastors are the ones giving spiritual direction, but I recall my psychologist telling me that he goes to therapy regularly and it is required of them to do this.
So why is it not required for pastors to go to spiritual direction?
Spiritual Direction is a process of seeking a deepening relationship with God, with someone who seeks to help you understand how God is moving in your life. This is something every person who claims to follow Jesus should be doing. As I type this and think every person who claims to be a disciple of Jesus should have a spiritual director and I do not. How does that impact the statement I made. We all need a spiritual director, and yet I do not have one. I do have spiritual friends.
I have one friend in particular who was close geographically to me in my last call when I was in the East Central Synod of Wisconsin. We were in the same conference and did a lot of stuff together. We were friends and colleagues and had a great relationship. This friend was also one who I knew that I could go to with the hard hard problems of where was God in this situation and what was God leading or calling me to do or be. I would confide in this person and know that they would not tell me what to do, but help me see/discern where God was and how God was moving. We would talk about the situations and say this is the good part of this and this is the bad part of this and this is the good part of that and this is the bad part of that. And just talk about the options and what God might be up to and how we were supposed to go along with God at this point in time.
I have since moved out of the synod and so has he, but we still maintain this friendship. Conversing on Facebook messenger or calling on the phone. I remember as this friend was contemplating between two possible calls a long conversation about the plusses and minuses of each and how that could have an impact on his life and family. We talked about what God was doing and how following one call would be good for a certain reason, but it would also leave a hole in the other call. And yet God would work in and through everything. How do we choose? We discussed it and then and now as my friend discerned the call to take we rejoice in his ministry and how it will impact the church.
We need those people. The people we can call and say, hey I need help discerning where God is at because sometimes even pastors don’t get it. Sometimes pastors are like where the heck is God? And to have a person you can call on to help you, to listen to what is happening, to ask questions, and not give an answer. That person is invaluable and I am so thankful I have that friend.
So has spiritual direction played a role in my spiritual life? Kind of. I have a great friend, who is a spiritual companion who helps me discern when I can’t do it on my own, and that is something everyone needs.