You may have heard about Tabor’s Graduate Diploma in Spiritual Direction, but you may not know much about the ministry of spiritual direction (SD) itself. If you have spent most of your life in evangelical churches, that’s probably not surprising. SD has a long history in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions, but has only really been ‘rediscovered’ in Protestant circles over recent decades. I thought, therefore, that an FAQ about SD might be helpful.
What is SD?
SD is an ancient practice of a spiritual director accompanying you in your spiritual journey. Three words, I think, characterise the SD encounter.
- Hospitality: SD is built upon imago Dei—whatever your story, as someone created in God’s image you are precious and your journey will be honoured. Therefore, hospitality—the creation of space to both be and become—is foundational. In this ‘grace space’, in being deeply present to you, your director seeks to ‘listen into speech’ the real stuff of your life—joys, hopes, prayers, griefs, weariness, questions, worries, work, play, relationships, failures, and so on—without you fearing judgement or being told what to do. This fosters the movement towards spiritual authenticity.
- Discernment: SD is built upon missio Dei—there are no ‘no go’ zones for the incarnate and redemptive God, who in Jesus has entered into human experience and is thus already present and at work in yours. Therefore, discernment is less about future-orientated, outcome-focused decisions, and more about a journey in contemplative, slow and deep listening and responding to that Presence. In SD we often say that we live our lives forwards, but understand them backwards. Hence, as you tell your story, together you and your director ponder significant points of connection and divine movements in your life. This fosters the movement towards spiritual insight.
- EnCOURAGEment: SD is built upon the ministry of the Spirit, the True Encourager—we need God’s animating life to respond. Therefore, in light of what has been discerned together, your director offers the gift of courage to faithfully live out your life in God. A director will hold you prayerfully as your reengage with what you are being called to, whether that is incremental or monumental. This fosters the movement towards spiritual engagement in your world, your reality.
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Our intercultural studies lecturer, David Turnbull, came across this resource. I thought it was an interesting attempt to address an important need in the church. You can click on the picture to go to the website.
Dr Aaron Chalmers- Head of School, Ministry, Theology and Culture. Tabor Adelaide
Tabor Adelaide is pleased to host Dr Andrew Shepherd, co-director of A Rocha in New Zealand, who will be delivering a lecture entitled “Living in an Age of Overconsumption” on Tuesday, 3rd June at 7:30. This is part of the free public lecture series run by the Graeme Clark Research Institute at Tabor Adelaide. It promises to be a good evening.
If you are unable to attend, we will endeavour to provide a link to the video recording later in the year.
Dr Rick Lewis was at Tabor Adelaide in February to lead a postgraduate intensive entitled “Mentoring for Ministry and Mission”. Rick served for over 30 years as a local church pastor and now works as an itinerant mentor and consultant, serving around 50 senior Christian leaders in Australia, the UK and South-east Asia. He holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Theological Seminary, having conducted action research into mentoring processes for pastors.
We video recorded the lectures from the first day and have made them available (along with the accompanying powerpoint) on the Tabor Adelaide website (http://taboradelaide.edu.au/schools/school-of-ministry-theology-culture/media). There is a lot of good stuff here!
As the Israelites journeyed from Egypt to the promised land they encountered numerous difficulties: an “uncrossable” sea, a limited supply of drinkable water, a lack of food, and hostile forces. Each and every time, however, the Lord provided for his people, whether in the form of a passage through the waves, potable water, manna and quails, or victory.
The School of Ministry, Theology and Culture at Tabor is committed to helping meet the needs of God’s people today. And although these resources hardly come from the hand of God (as editor, a point to which I can safely attest!), our hope is that, in some small way, the videos, articles and reflections we provide will contribute in a positive way to the life of the body of the Christ, and the various ministries we are all engaged in. Our prayer is that as you read these articles, watch these videos and digest this material, you will receive sustenance and nourishment for your journey.
Welcome to our blog!
Dr Aaron Chalmers
Dean of the Faculty of Ministry, Theology and Culture