What is Spiritual Direction?
Spiritual direction is an ancient practice – which “most generations of Christians have agreed is essential” (Eugene Peterson) – intended to facilitate personal awareness of God’s presence, voice, and activity. At its centre, spiritual direction holds two main convictions. First, that God is Immanuel which means that he’s always present, communicative, and involved. Second, that the typically frenzied and cacophonous nature of our lives numbs our spiritual sensitivity to this reality. In other words, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God” (Gerard Manley Hopkins) and we need help attending to this grandeur.
Spiritual direction offers this help. We often don’t know what we are experiencing – especially as it relates to God – until we’re given a safe opportunity to reflect, are asked precise yet gentle questions which invite sharing, and are compassionately listened to. In spiritual direction, a “director” provides such an opportunity so that a “directee” may more deeply understand how God is at work in their life and subsequently decide how they want to respond.
I desired spiritual direction long before I came across it. As my involvement in church and pastoral ministry grew and I became more preoccupied with others’ needs and lives, I realized I had little to no idea about what God was doing in me. I was active, but not contemplative. Where was the time and how did one embody this perspective, anyway? My ignorance was concerning. I longed to maintain a vibrant, interior life with God amidst the exterior activities in which I was engaging. I also knew enough people who burned out because of an imbalanced life and didn’t want to become another casualty.
Through the guidance of God masquerading as happenstance, I got a spiritual director early in 2015. It was entirely life changing. More than ever, I became aware of what God was doing in my life, and how and what he was communicating to me. And I also became far more aware of what was beating in my own heart – hope, fear, weakness and all. Naturally, and perhaps most wonderfully, my intimacy with God deepened. And with intimacy came greater freedom and (as St. Ignatius calls it) “holy indifference.” Now I often tell people that I can’t imagine how I lived without a spiritual director for so long, and that I imagine I’ll have a spiritual director till I die.
Biography and Training
- I was born in India, grew up as a missionary kid, and have lived in seven countries. My wife, Jennifer, and I have a beautiful daughter named Anaya and we live in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
- I did my undergraduate studies in English Literature and Philosophy at Wheaton College and completed my masters in Community Leadership and Philanthropy Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
- I’ve been part of the Vineyard since 2001 and serve as a National Catalyst (Vineyard Engage) for Vineyard Canada. Previously, I pastored at Winnipeg Centre Vineyard, and served as a worship leader at both Trinity Vineyard Christian Fellowship in St. Charles, Illinois and at Kowloon City Vineyard in Hong Kong.
- I am the founder and director of Sustainable Faith’s School of Mercy and Justice and teach school cohorts. I also teach in Sustainable Faith’s School of Spiritual Direction.
- I love film, music, reading, writing, travel, good conversation, and football (FC Barcelona!).
I’ve always found immense joy in being with people as they experience God. Propelled by this joy and realizing that it’s a significant part of my vocation, I began Sustainable Faith’s two-year School of Spiritual Direction in 2015. In addition to actually seeing directees during this time and receiving peer supervision, the most rewarding experience was making the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius in the 19th Annotation.
After I completed the program in 2017, I continued seeing directees for spiritual direction, though I never called myself a “spiritual director.” I didn’t feel I was ready despite wanting to be so. Just before the summer of 2018, as a result of some interior clarity and outward confirmation from my supervisor and my wife, I felt it was time to finally call myself a spiritual director.
I have regular (monthly) appointments with my own spiritual director, am in regular (quarterly) supervision, and am a member of both the Evangelical Spiritual Directors Association (ESDA) and Sustainable Faith Affiliates.
- My approach to spiritual direction is informed by Ignatian spirituality and the tenets of Christian orthodoxy.
- I meet with directees for spiritual direction in person and online (via Zoom, FaceTime, Skype etc.).
- Each spiritual direction session is around an hour.
- Sessions usually feature:
- An opening prayer for the directee.
- Space for silence which the directee breaks whenever they’re ready to begin (I’ve had some directees who begin after ten seconds and some who begin after 15 minutes – either is fine with me).
- A closing prayer for the directee.
- The “body” of the session is directees sharing about their experience of God. During this time, my role as a director is to listen attentively and compassionately, to ask good questions (i.e evocative and contemplative questions – the former to nourish further understanding of something and the latter to facilitate attention to God), and to provide an unhurried and contemplative space – often featuring silence – for directees to deepen their awareness of God’s voice, activity, and presence in their lives.
- At present, I charge $50 per session. Payment is by cash, check, Stripe (including an additional fee of 3.5% + $0.3 of the total), or (if you’re in Canada) Interac e-transfer.
- I encourage directees to choose a rhythm of spiritual direction that feels desirable and doable. Most directees book appointments once a month, and I have seen directees twice a month. Anything more frequent is usually not beneficial.
- I recommend that new directees try spiritual direction for at least six months before deciding whether to continue or not.
The following are excellent albeit brief articles on spiritual direction that provide a more firm grasp on what spiritual direction is and what to expect of it.
- Spiritual Direction in Daily Life (William A. Barry) (PDF)
- Finding a Spiritual Director (Eugene Peterson) (PDF)
If you would like to have some conversation about spiritual direction, or would like to see me for spiritual direction, I’d be happy to talk with you. You can use the form below to get in touch: