What is My First Session of Spiritual Direction Like?
I was on the fourth grade playground in the middle of a soccer game when it happened. My teacher stopped the game and called out my name, “Steven Nickles, the Principal needs to see you in his office!”
I was a pretty good kid. For five years I had avoided walking through the door most of my friends had walked through at one time or another. My worst fear came true. I finally was going to see what happens on the other side of the big white door with the black letters “Principal” painted on it.
As I waited in the fluorescent lit hallway my mind jump from one question to another:
- “What would he be like?”
- “What would he ask me?”
- “Will I be embarrassed?”
- “Will I feel stupid?”
If you have never been to a spiritual director you might have similar questions as you wait in the lobby:
- “Will I be tested on the Bible?”
- “Will the spiritual director act like Yoda?”
- “Will the office smell like incense?”
- “Will he ask me questions I don’t want to answer?”
Thankfully meeting with a spiritual director is more like meeting a new friend for coffee than like going to the Principal’s office. So, what happens in your first spiritual direction session?
First, I will meet you in the lobby and ask you if you want a cup of coffee. Second, we will go into my office; sit down and I will say a short prayer. Third, I will tell you a little about myself and what spiritual direction is about. Fourth, I will ask you a few questions like:
- What led you to make the appointment?
- What is your family like?
- Where do you work?
- What ways do you like to connect with God?
- What do you think God is doing in your life right now?
You will do most of the talking. I will occasionally ask you a clarifying question like; “Where did you sense God in this? How did you feel when that happened?” “What do you think God was saying to you?”
I will never tell you what to do, or make you answer a question you don’t want to answer, but I might make a few suggestions about prayer or a book you could read.
Unlike waiting outside the Principal’s office, the time passes quickly. At the end of our session I will pray again and ask you if you want to make another appointment. Before you answer me you might have a few thoughts: How did the time pass so quickly? I didn’t realize God was so active in my life. Why did I wait so long to start meeting with a spiritual director?
– Steven Nickles, M.Div.