A Youth Pastor's Guide To Spiritual Direction: 7 Things You Need To Know
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As a former youth pastor and former spiritual director, I’ve literally sat in both chairs. I have experienced first-hand the benefits of long-term spiritual direction. Still, I know that many may not be as familiar with this particular spiritual discipline as they are with others. For this reason, I wanted to create this super-practical guide to help encourage you to consider spiritual direction for yourself. Here are seven things you need to know about spiritual direction.
1. What Is Spiritual Direction And A Spiritual Director?
In short, spiritual direction is the regular practice of meeting with a trained spiritual director for the sake of listening to God together on your behalf. Spiritual directors are just normal Christians who have a knack for intentionally shepherding others and have spent a fair deal of time honing their gifts of pastoral care, pastoral listening, question asking, and discernment. Some people think of it as an intentional spiritual friendship or companion.
2. Who Is Spiritual Direction For?
You! Even if nothing is “wrong,” spiritual direction is a way of taking care of your spiritual health. Spiritual direction encourages you on a regular basis to stop and ask Jesus, what are you up to in and around me? And Jesus, how am I doing? This can go a long way, especially when carrying the spiritual weight of a youth pastor (and literal weight, e.g., sound systems, six-foot Jenga, seventh graders who think it is funny to dive on you from the rafters, etc.).
3. What Are The Benefits Of Spiritual Direction?
Honestly, there are tons! My favorite thing about spiritual direction, though, is to have someone to talk to and pray with that doesn’t have any skin in the game, so to speak.
They are not your pastor (who is actually your boss), they are not your spouse, they are not your needy friend. It is a one-sided relationship (in a good way!) that is all about you for a change (and God). The only thing they will ask for in return is . . . well, payment. More on that in a sec.
4. What Should I Expect From A Spiritual Direction Session?
Spiritual direction sessions usually last from 30-60 minutes and will probably consist of some silence, prayerfully considering what God might have you share, you sharing, your director asking good questions about what you share, and you both praying together. They may even offer you some helpful spiritual practices or disciplines you might employ between sessions, but mostly it is about helping you discern what God might be up to in your life/heart.
5. How Often Should I Meet With A Spiritual Director?
Usually, you will meet with a spiritual director every four to six weeks (I meet with mine once a month).
6. How Much Does Spiritual Direction Cost?
Expect each session to cost between $60-$120. I know that can sound like a lot, but remember that is a monthly cost. Also, many churches and denominations will be willing to help you foot the bill, so don’t be afraid to ask. It is worth the money for both you and the students you care for!
7. Where Can I Find A Spiritual Director And What Should I Look For?
Start by asking your church or denomination if they have someone they recommend. If it is more comfortable, though, there are many directories to help you find a spiritual director in your area (I’ve included some below).
As far as finding the right spiritual director for you, don’t be afraid to “date around” until you find the right fit. I have been seeing my own spiritual director for nearly a decade, but he wasn’t my first spiritual director. Give the relationship time to develop (two or three sessions). If the spiritual director you are seeing isn’t a good fit, graciously let them know and reach out to a new director. They are professionals, so they will be used to someone exploring other options.
Share your thoughts with others in our YM360 community:
- Have you ever considered/tried spiritual direction? What was your experience like?
- What excites you about the prospect of spiritual direction? What obstacles might be holding you back from trying spiritual direction?
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