Thursday, May 12, 2016

Does the Pastor Have a Pastor?

Let your mind wander through your life, and let it notice what it hasn't noticed yet.
 L. Roger Owens

In his book, Abba, Give Me a Word (2012), L. Roger Owens tells the story of his journey in spiritual direction. The volume is one of a kind: I know of no other practicing United Methodist Pastor who has authored a book on his or her work as a directee.

Does the pastor have a pastor?
Let the tremendous benefits to personal well-being and ministry outweigh whatever barriers you have.  Begin, Owens, suggests, by writing a "longing list," noting what you want, the things you are longing for. Do this for three days, writing for five minutes each time without over-thinking. "Just write." Eventually, we will probably move from a new roof or car or suit to things like peace, quiet, healing, God.
The fuel for spiritual direction is our spiritual yearning for more of God. This longing is more important than the obstacles we might construct to seeking spiritual direction.

Thus, in the "Finding" chapter, Owens addresses the process of finding a spiritual director, what can make for a good fit, and whether or not we "pay" for it. This chapter may be the most useful in offering practical help to Protestant clergy who are new to spiritual direction.
The chapter, "Offering," covers the reluctance we feel in offering to God the messy fragments of our life. "Just bring yourself," God says. "I've taken care of all the rest." Owens counsels:
Where in our culture do we have a safe place to offer even our worst, where that offering will not be rejected? At church? Not many. At work? Certainly not. And that might be the reason you are longing for a spiritual director because you've heard someone say, "It's one place I can offer everything without fear."
Spiritual direction is that space where I can be myself,  where I learn to let God take what I have to offer, even if what I have to offer is a mess. How I need this space cannot be overstated, especially if I am charged with the care of souls. This care is impossible to offer when my default is to attempt spiritual formation and ministry all on my own. I can begin to see more wholeness and less fragmentation as I seek out spiritual direction.

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