Today (1/14/2019) has been one of those days when God has blessed us with a vision of things coming together. As, I am sure, many of you have experienced a calling from God that at first seemed daunting, if not impossible. Perhaps, you have sensed God placing something on your heart, which you believe to be far beyond your ability to make happen, yet somehow you believe it will, in fact, happen. For MaryAnn and I this has been The Awakening Institute. The Awakening Institute was merely a thought only a year ago, and we were far from sure what form it may take. As it was being developed, within the context of the local church, the vision clarified, as the Lord made it clear it would be around the ancient practice of Spiritual Direction. I will not give a full history herein, but today we have seen it all come together as we are very close to being ready to open, with our first gatherings ready to be offered in February. Before this however we are planning an open house gathering on January 26th, from 4:00-8:00pm. This will be a time of Scripture reading, prayer and fellowship, with food and refreshments. It is our prayer that many of you will be able to attend as we unveil what the Lord is doing at The Awakening Institute.
Now, as always, I pray that you may take a moment to know God’s presence with you, at this very moment. Now is a good time to be still for a few moments and let God speak to your heart.
I reiterate what I wrote last week, “The heart of The Awakening Institute is spiritual formation through spiritual direction focused on how to better practice the presence of God in our lives.”1
Last week, we addressed the question, “Why Spiritual Direction? This week we consider, “Finding a Spiritual Director.
Finding a Spiritual Director
Perhaps we should ask a quick question before considering what it means to find a Spiritual Director. The question being, “Who needs Spiritual Direction?” The answer is everybody. Spiritual direction is not something that is exclusive to any group, regardless of how spiritual or unspiritual that group may be perceived, or seem to be. If you have a spirit, and everybody does, then you need to be in Spiritual Direction. But, here’s the rub, no one is qualified to direct another person’s spirit. Only the Holy Spirit can direct, redeem, and bring life to the human spirit. However, few, perhaps none, are truly capable, without help, to be well attuned to God’s voice and direction. Thus, we need good Spiritual Directors who can help us to listen and respond to the Holy Spirit, who is the real director. The world is simply too noisy for us to do it on our own. We need help. So who needs Spiritual Direction? We all do. Now, how do we find and then choose our Spiritual Director?
Finding, or choosing, a spiritual director is a very personal and obviously spiritual endeavor. It is personal because no Spiritual Director is right for everyone and it is spiritual because it is all about becoming more adept at hearing and being responsive to God’s voice, God’s presence and God’s calling in our lives. This being said, when you do find the right person, you will know it. But, it is always good to know what we are looking for to make the process of finding your Spiritual Director a bit easier. So here are a few guidelines.
1. Begin by inquiring at training programs such as The Awakening Institute, local theology schools, seminaries, or retreat centers for a list of Spiritual Directors that they may be able to recommend. You may also get some good leads by asking around at your church.
2. If you are a Christian, look for a Christian Spiritual Director. This only makes sense, as you want your director to be able to help you listen and respond to God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), which is only possible if they are doing the same in their lives. Don’t be afraid to ask your perspective director questions regarding their reliance on Jesus Christ. This does not mean that you and your director must have the very same doctrinal beliefs, but it does mean that they understand and practice God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) as the center of their lives.
3. I believe that it is best to seek out someone who has had some training. Certified Spiritual Directors have made a commitment to their calling in the form of both time and money. This is a good indication that they are serious about the ministry and says something about their calling as well. That being said some of the best Spiritual Directors I know are simply gifted individuals called by God to be in this ministry. However, I have also known each of these to be fully open to learning opportunities to become better listeners and responders to God’s voice and presence in their lives.
4. Do not choose a director who is not in direction themselves. You certainly do not have to be apprised of who the Director’s Director is, but it is appropriate to ask if they are in regular direction themselves.
5. Pray, ask God if the director you are considering is right for you. Don’t go solely by a good feeling you may have, as right as that may turn out to be.
6. Ask yourself, “How does my Director help me to better listen and respond to God’s love, voice, presence, and guidance in my life?”
7. Don’t be afraid to interview your perspective director. Ask questions about their education, experience, and their personal devotional life. How do they practice meditation, prayer, engaging of Scripture, contemplation, and silence?
8. What ethical guidelines do they establish? Do they provide a covenantal understanding? Do they have a disclosure statement indicating expectations, which may include such things as financial considerations, confidentiality, and clear director/directee roles and conduct?
God bless you all, Gene Yotka
Next week: What Might I Expect During Spiritual Direction Session?
1. Please go to the homepage of our website www.theawakeninginstitute.com to see our full mission and purpose statement. You can also subscribe the “The Awakening Letter”, which is sent out every Tuesday morning.
2. For details on all classes and seminars please visit our website www.theawakeninginstitute.com or you may email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 321-759-5760, or make an appointment to visit: The Awakening Institute, 115 Broad Street, Titusville, Fla., 32796