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Re: [IPr] FW: [IP] Trained Spiritual Director
On 21 Dec 00, at 10:25, Handsfield, James H. wrote:
> > > Notice that I
> > > said direction -
> > > not guidance. There is an important distinction there. A
> > > spiritual director
> > > is not a coach, nor necessarily even a friend.
> > While you are correct that a spiritual director is not a
> > coach, a spiritual
> > director is *always* a friend in the deepest sense (as your
> > later comments
> > imply). I don't mean a pal or buddy, but a true friend who has the
> > directee's relationship with God foremost. In fact, I will not direct
> > someone with whom I have a "buddy" type relationship, because it is
> > difficult to be objective. It's much the same as one would find in a
> > relationship with a therapist or counselor. The boundaries have to be
> > clear.
This is one of the difficulties I've seen with people who come for spiritual
direction - those boundaries have to be understood and accepted by all
> > Perhaps a better way to say this is that Christ's commandment
> > to us all was/is to love one another. That is not the same as liking
> > one another. I expect my spiritual director to love me, whether he likes me
> > or not (I'm fortunate that he does, but that's irrelevant when we're in
> > direction mode).
You are right on target with the need for the spiritual director to be an
objective friend in the sense of desiring the best for the directee - I've
always considered it to be the most demanding aspect of the practice,
especially when someone you don't quite "fit" with asks for direction.
> > > A special requirement is a gift or calling to this ministry - because the spiritual director has to
> > > invest a lot of time and effort into the people they are directing.
> > It's more than the time invested. It has to be a special
> > vocation or the relationships just won't work. In the Russian Orthodox
> > tradition, a person knows he/she is called to be a spiritual director (staretz,
> > plural startsi) when others start coming for spiritual direction. Although I
> > am trained, I have never "hung out my shingle", waiting instead until
> > others have sought me out.
The gifting, calling or vocation is the fundamental requirement. Some of the
best spiritual directors I know don't have a lot of training but they have a
steady stream of people seeking them out. One older friend of mine who
died two weeks ago was a perfect example of this - he was a deacon in a
medium sized Baptist church, not trained as clergy, but he had a gift of
understanding people and loving people. He also was rather plainspoken and
was considered blunt - if he thought you were heading in an unproductive
direction he would say so quite forcefully. He always said he didn't
understand why people asked him for spiritual help and he would try to get
them associated with other people that he thought were more qualified. He
wasn't called a "spritual director" because that church isn't comfortable
with the term, but he filled the role for many people for many years. Many
young people came under his direction while they were investigating a
Christian vocation - and he was very good at directing them through this
> > And with respect to monastic vocation, I am a Companion of
> > the Society of St. Paul, a small religious order of the Episcopal Church
> > housed in Palm Desert, California. The Companion's rule is similar to the rule of a
> > Benedictine Oblate except that the Oblate takes a vow of celibacy.
This is one of the shortcomings of most of the Evangelical traditions - we
don't have any real connections with the Contemplative groups. Those of us
who might be considered sympathetic to this type of practice are loosely
networked but don't really have any real organization.
> > I will finally point out that spiritual direction is not limited to
> > Christian faith and may be useful for anyone seeking a deeper
> > relationship with God.
It might be useful, but if a non-Christian came to me seeking spiritual
direction I would be obligated to point out that the first step would be to
move in the direction of becoming a Christian. By definition (since I am a
conservative, traditionalist Christian spiritual director) a "deeper
relationship with God" would require this move.
Rev. Randall Winchester
WD4HVA (email @ redacted)
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