by Lester Lind, Spiritual Director in Philippi, West Virginia
The Men’s Retreat had just ended, and the men were preparing to return home. One of them approached me and asked if we could meet on a regular basis. The theme of the retreat was letting go of our masks and claiming who we are in God, apart from what we do. This young man wanted a spiritual director to join him as he listened to God’s invitation to let go of the superficial ways we identify ourselves. He was trusting God to be present as he responded to the vulnerable words of Jesus, that “those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it” (Mk. 8:35).
We were pedaling through rolling country on an Mennonite Central Committee bicycle fundraiser. A man I didn’t know was riding beside me, and we began talking. I mentioned that I am a spiritual director. He said he is a pastor and is interested in finding a spiritual director!
We have been meeting monthly for several years. I mostly listen as he reflects aloud on his life. He uses words like “noticing inner voices” and “holding things in his heart and gut”. Together we explore whether these inner noticings and holdings are God’s voice or other voices calling for his attention. He takes seriously his ministry of paying attention to the spiritual welfare of his community. He likes to notice and prayerfully reflect on things before he speaks or acts. I wonder if this is somehow similar to Mary, Jesus’ mother, who pondered things in her heart. And also perhaps like John’s description of discerning the spirits: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (I Jn. 4:1).
When persons contact me regarding spiritual direction, they are usually interested in deepening their spiritual life. Some need encouragement to let go so they can find deeper meaning, some desire assistance as they listen for the voice of God in their life, and others simply want an accountability relationship that provides a time to reflect on how their devotional life and spiritual disciplines are producing growth in their spiritual life and everyday vocation and ministry.
To find spiritual director near you, check out the spiritual directors listing on the Mennonite Church USA website.