Do You Hunger for More Connection to the Presence of God in Your Heart?
Would You Like to Walk Closer with God in Your Daily Life?
To Do Want to Feel Spirit-Led, Beloved, and Empowered?
Although many people consider their personal relationship with God a private matter, the journey to God isn’t meant to be solitary. Often God’s desires for you are discovered through the wise encouragement, guidance, and loving challenges of another person whom God has called to serve in the role of spiritual director, also known as a soul-companion.
Do any of the following sound familiar . . .
- Doubting your own perceptions or wondering if you’re hearing God’s voice?
- Repeatedly falling short or struggling with the same trials over and over, despite good intentions?
- Difficulty discerning God’s will and/or carrying it out?
- Being so overwhelmed or caught up in worldly matters that you find it hard to see God’s hand or healing?
- Keeping busy to avoid facing sadness, grief, anger, loneliness, or feelings of inadequacy?
- Feeling stuck in familiar practices while hoping or believing there’s more freedom, joy, and fullness of life, as Jesus promised?
If so, you would likely benefit very much from Spiritual Direction! Keep reading!
The Validity of Spiritual Direction: “All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of love”—that is, to holiness, wrote Pope Paul VI in Lumen Gentium, a principal document of the Second Vatican Council. In Cristifideles Laici, his 1989 landmark document on the laity, Pope Saint John Paul II listed “recourse to a wise and loving spiritual guide”—that is, spiritual direction—as a necessary element in the formation of lay people, primarily to help the individual gain clarity on what one is here on earth to do and to grow in willingness to fulfill one’s individual mission. Christianity Today wrote about the “ancient practice” of spiritual direction, naming “modern Protestants” who support the practice, including Jeannette Bakkes, the author of Holy Invitations: Exploring Spiritual Direction, who said: “Evangelicals are listening for God in ways that are different from our usual understanding of discipleship. We are looking at many Christian disciplines, including prayer, silence and solitude, discernment, journaling, and others. … Spiritual direction is one of these disciplines.”
Benefits: Spiritual direction provides assistance but doesn’t at all take the place of free choice or the directee’s responsibility and freedom of self-determination. Topics discussed in Spiritual Direction can relate to almost anything, often addressing:
- implementing a program, practices, or activities that deepen one’s relationship with God;
- spiritual reading;
- specific questions life is presenting, including issues of faith, morals, and relationships;
- getting to know and understand oneself better,
- acknowledging one’s shadow, deep-rooted hurts, fears, and unhealthy habits (which may call for healing and deliverance prayer);
- establishing and sticking to a life plan;
- how one can model one’s life to be more holy, or more in the image and likeness of Jesus; or
- works of ministry, mercy, social justice, and/or participation within a community of worship, faith, and/or service.
- “Better two than one alone, since thus their work is really rewarding. If one should fall, the other helps him up; but what of the person with no one to help him up when he falls? Where one alone would be overcome, two will put up resistance.” ~Ecclesiastes 4:9-10,12
- “Put on a new self which will progress towards true knowledge the more it is renewed in the image of its Creator.” ~Colossians 3:10
- “Put no faith in your own perception.” ~Proverbs 3:5
- “Plans are matured by consultation; take wise advice when waging war.” ~Proverbs 20:18.
- “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” ~Ephesians 6:12
- “Do not model your behavior on the contemporary world, but let the renewing of your minds transform you so that you may discern for yourselves what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and mature.” ~Romans 12:2
Jesus' Approach to Spiritual Guidance is the Model for Mine!
My 2006 diploma in Spiritual Direction is from the Monastery of the Risen Christ’s School for Spiritual Directors. That school was originally begun in 1978 by Abbot David Gereats, O.S.B., at the Benedictine monastery at Pecos, New Mexico, and it continues since his passing as the Abbot David School for Spiritual Directors. More info about me, including my C.V., are accessible on the ABOUT page. Although spiritual direction is offered by some to people of any spiritual beliefs, I’ve adopted Jesus as my model and prefer to guide women who are open to the Holy Spirit and appreciate Jesus’ attributes.
Jesus made himself available to people, dealing with each person as a unique individual.
Jesus listened attentively and empathetically, asked probing questions and engaging in creative dialogue.
Jesus affirmed and encouraged people on their faith journeys, ministering with a sense of lightheartedness.
Jesus cared for his own soul, reserving Quiet Time and solitude to pray.
Jesus experienced resistance in giving spiritual direction, but he kept doing it anyway!
Jesus ministered in the power of the Holy Spirit, skillfully applying the Word of God to people’s lives, and he fervently prayed for those to whom he ministered.
Jesus identified obstacles to spiritual growth. He challenged people, stated the truth, and pointed out the error of their ways when necessary.
Jesus patiently understood ignorance, pride, laziness, failures, and temptations as he ministered soul care in community.
Jesus healed an astounding number of people, drove out countless demons, and taught his disciples they could do the same in his power and authority.
How does Spiritual Direction work?
A typical session is 60 minutes and takes place in person at a church or at the spiritual director’s home or office. God is the actual Director and the human spiritual director opens by praying to serve as the vessel through which the Holy Spirit works for the directee’s benefit. It is NOT therapy or counseling. The focus is on growing in intimacy with God and what gets in the way of that, not on solving clinical psychological problems. The relationship is one of utmost confidentiality. It is formalized by an agreement, and meetings are held regularly, generally once a month or every 6 weeks. A re-evaluation is typical after six months.
Between sessions, the spiritual director holds the directee in prayer, and if the directee would like guidance about spiritual practices, use of scripture or other spiritual reading, the spiritual director may have suggestions and may check in to see how that’s going. Those trained as I was will likely ask you to record your dreams, and many will suggest that directees use a journal for reflections, prayer requests, gratitude lists, and the like.
Who are Spiritual Directors? Priests and ministers may do spiritual direction as part of their pastoral services, but increasingly not enough of them are trained or available, so lay ministry has become more prevalent. Good spiritual directors have spiritual gifts, wisdom, experience in going some distance along the path of Christian life. They have done inner work and been in spiritual direction themselves. They have formative training and experience in their ministry, along with peer groups with whom they meet regularly for support and continuing education. Styles naturally vary.
What does a spiritual direction session cost? The worth of spiritual direction can be invaluable and the time and money invested in training and serving in the ministry have been high. I have always paid my spiritual directors: set fees to lay spiritual directors and donations to the community of ordained spiritual directors, from $50 to $100 per session. With me, an exploratory phone call and the first face-to-face session are free. Subsequent sessions are on a love offering basis. The proceeds are primarily donated to the organizations that have provided my training and support—particularly St. Dominic’s Catholic Church, the Abbot David School of Spiritual Directors, Heart of the Father Ministries, Christian Healing Ministries, and Mary Star of the Sea—and are also used to partially cover the expenses of our 5 Keys to Freedom in Christ ministry. No monies received are for the spiritual director’s personal income or use. Chris honors the call of 1 Peter 4:10 to use the gifts she has received as a good steward of God’s varied grace.
Some have asked for guidelines on the size of love offerings, which I estimate to average $50 for an in-person session in Sonoma County, $60 for an in-person session in San Francisco or the Bay Area, $40 for a follow-up session by phone or Skype, less in cases of hardship, and more in cases of plenty, always prayerfully considered, and not tax-deductible or covered by any insurance. In comparison, a 60-minute standard body massage costs about $90 and up in San Francisco, less in Gualala! Isn’t a massage for your soul as valuable?
UNBOUND Ministry is almost always recommended because most Christians have not yet experienced the freedom in Christ that he died to give to his followers. If I recommend that, it will be scheduled as a separate 60- to 90-minute session, at which there will also be an intercessor. Benefits can be immediate and extensive just from one session. UNBOUND Ministry emphasizes preparing and teaching prayer recipients to continue to use a Five Keys prayer approach going forward, as often as they wish.
If we are going to grow spiritually, if we are going to become excellent in the spiritual life, we need coaching.
The sad truth is, when it comes to our Catholicism, we don’t think about it in those terms. … Everything we do as Catholics should be excellent, but we do a lot of things mediocre. … Resistance encourages us to take it easy and settle for mediocrity. But God created us for happiness, and he fills us with great joy as we strive for excellence, especially in the spiritual life. … [T]he central goal of the Christian life is to love God and neighbor by living a holy life.
Seek out a spiritual coach.Matthew Kelly
The retreat exceeded my expectations and was exactly what I needed. I gained insight into myself and my spirituality by: spiritual direction, listening to others and feedback, the content of presentations, and silent reflection. My favorite prayer experiences were healing prayer and centering prayer. I found the dream work a very exciting, enlightening, effective process. I’d go again in a heartbeat!L. G.
To Inquire About Spiritual Direction with Chris
Note: Appointments are only scheduled after a mini-interview over the phone.