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Spiritual Direction

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Jul. 03, 2013

Behind nearly everyone who excels at a given pursuit is a great coach or director.  For example, a few years ago I was having lunch with a close friend who grew up in Germany on a US Air Force base.  He shared what it was like growing up in Germany as an American, how he came to love Nutella (try it if you’ve never had it before), and how he came to play and love the game of soccer.  Although he had poured a great deal of energy into the sport prior to high school, he had never been able to achieve his goals as a player.  Late in high school, he found a coach that took a personal interest in him and pushed him to become the best player he could be.  As a result of my friend’s determination and his coach’s personal and focused guidance, my friend was able to go on to play Division I soccer in the United States and become a semi professional player after college.

He quickly related his experience as a soccer play to the spiritual life.  In the same way that having a great coach can help you achieve your highest potential as an athlete, a spiritual director can help you achieve your highest spiritual potential.

It is common to seek direction in our secular lives.  Singers have voice coaches, musicians have musical instructors, athletes have coaches, employees have mentoring programs, students have advisors, and politicians and businessmen have consultants.  You get the point.  Your spiritual life is far more important than any other aspect of your life, yet we often neglect it by thinking we can figure out life’s most demanding and fundamental questions on our own.  Make it a priority to seek trusted advice in your spiritual life!

Perhaps pride prevents many from seeking spiritual direction.  You might think that you don’t need help or you already know what to do.  Perhaps it is fear.  You might be scared to reveal the innermost details of your life.  While these roadblocks are understandable, like athletic growth, spiritual growth cannot be achieved without going beyond your comfort zone.  When working out, you push your muscles and they grow.  Push your soul, and it will grow as well.

Do not be dissuaded from choosing a spiritual director because you equate them with counselors or psychotherapists.  Spiritual direction is not therapy, and a spiritual director will not make decisions for you.  A great spiritual director knows the Lord and the faith well, has a serious prayer life, and will help you find the Lord’s will.

When you find a spiritual director, be brutally honest with him or her.  You will not say anything your spiritual director hasn’t heard before.  You’re not that original, and they are not there to judge you. You will retain the freedom to live as you please, but you should always take the advice of your spiritual director seriously and take any suggestions to prayer.

The hardest part of successful spiritual direction is finding the right director.  You have to take the initiative.  Ask your friends if they know any good spiritual directors.  Ask your priest if he does spiritual direction.  If he doesn’t, ask if he can recommend someone.  Regardless, take the initiative to do it now.  It’s like anything else in life.  If you put it off, you will continue to put it off until you completely forget about it. 

About the Author

Jeremiah Doyle is a freelance writer for Newman Connection.

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