Individual and small group spiritual directions are always an important component in spiritual formation of the GSCCC. One-on-one spiritual direction is integrated as a core discipline in all Christian training programs offered by the church. The small group spiritual direction is often facilitated in a small group directed silent retreat setting for different training purposes. The group setting in spiritual direction is seen as preventive toward self-absorbed spirituality. Both also serve as a long-term spiritual maintenance for individuals and groups for their spiritual growth.
Spiritual direction is not: Christianized psychotherapy; a submission to a religious authority; modern-day Christian friendship; the latest repackaging of mentoring or disciplining; guidance for moral advices; spiritual counseling for one’s devotional life; and so forth.
Theological Assumptions of Spiritual Direction
Spiritual direction is defined as a help given by a director to a directee(s) that enables the latter to pay attention to God’s personal communication to him or her to respond to God, to grow in intimacy with God, and to live out the consequences of the relationship. Such “initiatives” of God and “responses” of the directee(s) are experiential in their human-divine relation. A director focuses spiritual direction on these experiences of human-divine interactions with directees.
The goal of spiritual direction is to foster directees’ spiritual formation into the image of Jesus Christ. Such spiritual formation cultivate the love relationship with the Jesus Christ, which consequently and spontaneously are extended into love of one’s neighbors (Matthew 22:37-40).
The Bible serves as a “roadmap” for one’s spiritual experience with God in spiritual direction. The Bible will progressively give life guidance for directees to grow into the true life of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Spiritual direction is an invitation to God for divine communication and for involvement in an individual’s spiritual being.
A Contemplative Stance for Spiritual Direction
A spiritual director is seen as “a spiritual companion”(1) or “a spiritual mid-wife”(2) who helps a directee to explore and interpret the latter’s spiritual encounters with God. These spiritual encounters are a directee’s daily reality of their human-divine interactions. Their spiritual encounters with God include prayers, participation in church sacraments and worship, daily happenings, circumstances, events, human interactions, and all aspects of everyday living. The presence of God can be uncovered all along the entirety of a directee’s life (cf. Acts 17:24-28, Romans 11:36).
As a preference of ministry in GSCCC, a director may primarily focus on the prayer experiences of the directees. In such way, the directees are cultivated with a healthy and dynamic prayer life as their life style.
The imagery of “a spiritual midwife” or a spiritual director denotes the fact that the directees are the ones who ultimately “seek, find, and deepen this human-Divine relation.”(3) The imagery of a “spiritual companion” presumes an egalitarian relationship of a director with directees. In either imagery, the practice of a director walking along with directees in the latter’s spiritual journey, and quietly supporting the directees to figure out themselves directly with Jesus Christ.
The human director is really a co-director, serving as an agent for Jesus Christ who is the ultimate invisible Director to the directees. A director, directee(s), and God compose a basic triad in the ministry of spiritual direction. The very purpose of this triad is to keep seeking, finding, and deepening the human-Divine relationships of a director and his or her directees.
Spiritual direction is a formation primarily for a human spirit to be attuned attentively to the presence of God. While one enters into the presence of God and tries to hear the small voice of God, one can be misled by his or her own needs, preoccupations, emotions, and illusions, which are incited by one’s own fallen humanity or by the evil forces. It is quite easy to feel one’s emotions as convictions of the Spirit of God; to think of one’s desires and willfulness as if they were God’s; to see one’s human successes as a sign of God’s approval; or to interpret one’s failures and hardships as God’s imposed redemptive sufferings. One’s claim that “we can teach or master ourselves in the spiritual life” is the worst kind of self-deception.(4) Through spiritual direction, the awakened and Spirit-led human spirit is fostered to discern and follow divine convictions faithfully. Anyone who desires an intimate relationship with Jesus through prayer is one who most needs to be directed, precisely when he or she is with God and God alone.
(1) Maureen Conroy, Looking into the Well: Supervision of Spiritual Directors (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1995), 3.
(2) Margaret Guenther, Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction (Cambridge, MA: Cowley Publications, 1992), 88-91.
(3) John Horn, Mystical Healing (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Co., 1996), 140.
(4) Chan, Spiritual Theology, 225.