Who are Spiritual Directors?

Spiritual directors may be lay people, ordained clergy, or members of a religious community. They can be male or female, married, or single and of any religious denomination.

It is worth noting that spiritual directors have different ways of working or ‘styles’, based on their life experience, faith tradition and training. Whilst some directors have counselling, medical or therapeutic backgrounds, others may bring wide experience of life from different occupational backgrounds; some are specially trained to minister to persons in trauma and recovery and a number will have experience of the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius.

Qualities most evident in good spiritual directors are listening skills, compassion, curiosity, the ability to both challenge and encourage, a knowledge of today’s Church – established and fringe - as well as a solid grounding in the tradition of the faith, especially sacred scripture and an ability to integrate it with everyday life.

Seekers tend to look for a trustworthy companion with a mature faith who is also on a journey, yearning for God: always growing and learning. Spiritual directors keep strict confidentiality which is a vital quality as it enables the other to share openly what is on their mind and heart.

Spiritual directors hear stories from people who yearn for ‘connectedness,’ meaning and purpose in life. Listening at depth requires gifts and wisdom to listen and to hear the holy truth underneath an individual’s story line. A spiritual director is first and foremost called, and gifted, and then seeks the training, knowledge, and skills to wholeheartedly respond to God’s prompting to be the vessel through which God’s Spirit can work.

Photo © Dr Peter Barrow – with thanks
Photo © Dr Peter Barrow – with thanks