Top positive review
...Who Needs Spiritual Direction?
Reviewed in the United States on March 1, 2013
If not for my marked enthusiasm, I would be embarrassed to even admit my ignorance of the role and potential of an effective Spiritual Director (SD) in the ongoing discipleship process. I suppose the particular ministry circles of my youth and into my young adult life did not intersect with such a deliberate and strategic program in the ongoing development of those converted to faith in Christ. I suspect the greater emphasis in the Southern Baptist regions was placed primarily upon conversion and essentially stopped there. The idea of continued growth and accountability were discussed, but simply not a matter of priority - just make more (get the confession) - without equal attention to the discipleship process. For many within evangelical circles authentic transformation is what Dallas Willard referred to as a "gospel of sin management." The well-worn connotation, `stay away from beer, chew, and dates who do' sums up this group. This base characterization is a far stretch from the transformed lives of those redeemed through Christ's death in the synoptic gospels.
Spiritual direction is offered in response to deep careful reflection about a new relationship to God and the implications are of utmost important. Whereas pastoral counseling is often related to a specific chronic need - SD is in response to a lifelong pursuit of understanding myself in relationship to God and my passionate desire to follow His direction.
A recent reading of Glittering Images, authored by Susan Howatch was somewhat instrumental in offering a greater appreciation for one gifted in the art of spiritual direction in the life of one struggling to make sense of complex human relationships in light of our Christian calling. Godly direction and guidance was offered from an insightful and competent shepherd. My experience within Christianity has been somewhat devoid of such capable individuals. The scarcity of such direction with increased reports of emotional and spiritual distress within our society is very disturbing.
In my estimation, Spiritual Direction and Christian Soul Care makes a compelling case for a greater proliferation of pastors willing to step into this specific role and get involved in the messiness of people's lives in order to meet real needs within the body of Christ. However, this movement will require a strategic and deliberate movement within the profession to motivate and equip pastors to accomplish the tremendous task awaiting.
As stated in the introductory statements, an increased realization has occurred within the discipline of counseling for "the integration of psychology and theology" in addressing the needs of humanity. A clear need for developing helpful and necessary linkage between these distinct and yet harmonious disciplines of being human are fundamental to understanding human behavior.
It is critical for those who step into this counseling role understand the fundamental aspect of spiritual direction as offering help - not a one-time propositional statement. The ability to help a directee become aware of what God is doing through practical measures is critical to the individual's ongoing success and self-discovery. This will only happen through an attitude of humility, increased intimacy with God, and the ability to live-out the consequences of discoveries revealed within this dynamic relationship.
Although the human population is exploding, we have never been more alone in our relationship to others. Hence, we have books entitled, Bowling Alone (Robert Putnam), which substantiate through research, the increased deterioration of our community affiliations and decreased number of meaningful relationships. Unfortunately, the church has always been a reflection of the surrounding culture and shares these harmful characteristics. In summary, the role of spiritual director, as defined by Moon and Benner is a much-needed function within the church of Christ.