How to Choose a Spiritual Director
Finding a spiritual director is often challenging. Besides trying to locate a spiritual director in your geographic area, there are also many other important issues to consider. ESDA not only has listings for spiritual directors around the country, but we also have some suggestions to help you through the process of finding the director that is right for you.
For reference, spiritual direction sessions are usually scheduled once per month, last from 45 to 60 minutes and range in price from $0 to $100.00. Some directors ask that you give a donation to a specific organization in place of payment.
When looking for a spiritual director:
First, consider your interest in finding a spiritual director your first invitation to a conversation with God.
Spend some time reflecting in prayer about why you are drawn to this helping ministry. Ask yourself and God questions like:
- Are there particular questions or issues in my spiritual life or relationships that I want to address?
- Am I facing vocational or circumstantial life change?
- How am I currently experiencing my relationship with God?
- Am I having difficulty sensing God’s presence?
- Am I struggling with an issue of sin?
- What am I hoping for in spiritual direction?
Ask God to lead you to the director of His choosing. Spend time listening for what God may have to say as well as the thoughts that emerge from your own heart and mind.
Take the time to write down your observations as well as any stipulations regarding a spiritual director to work with, such as theological perspective, gender preference, cultural identification, ministry background, etc.
Second, take the time to talk with others.
If you know of anyone in your area who participates in spiritual direction ask them about their experience. Ask if they would recommend their director and why. Ask local churches, clergy or theological schools if they know of or can recommend spiritual directors in your area.*
Gather data from on-line resources like ESDA who provide lists of spiritual directors as well as provide information on the doctrinal position and ethical standards of the available directors.
Keep praying. Everything that you discover in your conversations with others can contribute to and direct your on-going dialog with God and help you discern His leading.
Third, talk to a spiritual director by making an initial appointment for a direction session. (You may decide to talk to more than one for comparison.)
In your initial conversation keep the following questions in mind:
Does this relationship have the potential for honest dialog?
- Pay attention to the level of tension you feel while telling personal details of your life
- Think about how the director listened to your story
- Evaluate if you feel understood by the director
Is there sufficient agreement in your faith beliefs?
Does the director take the initiative to define your relationship by discussing his/her code of ethics, session format, fee expectations, etc. as well as give opportunity to answer your questions about direction?
Does the director consistently lead you back to your relationship with the Lord? (Although there should be opportunity for a director to share personal stories for illustrative purposes, a directee should not feel like a direction session’s focus is hijacked by the director or that the director is trying to fix your spiritual problems.)
Is the prevailing feeling one of comfort and hope after the initial meeting? Could you see yourself working with this director over time?
Finally, when you have talked with one or two spiritual directors take the time to continue your conversation with God before you make your final decision.
Prayerfully reflect on your session and ask God to bring to mind any confirmations or concerns that He wants you to be aware of. Then take a deep breath. God is your true Director and even if at some point you need to change human spiritual directors, He will be your constant companion and guide.
*If you cannot find a local spiritual director, consider the possibility of phone or Skype direction opportunities. ESDA can help you to find directors who minister in this way.