Years ago at Willow Creek, we realized that our small group leaders wear many hats—vision caster, encourager, disciplinarian, discussion leader, and shepherd, to name a few. We agreed that one hat leaders must wear to help people grow is the Spiritual Director hat, but this raises several questions in a leader's mind: "What exactly is spiritual direction?" "What role can the leader play to foster it?" "How much responsibility does a leader take for group members' growth?"
What is Spiritual Direction?
John Ortberg has often taught that spiritual direction is setting aside time with another person to pay full attention to what God is doing. This idea is based on a few assumptions: First…that God is always speaking and acting among us. Second…that each person is unique and requires personal attention. And third…that the goal is to help people listen to God and obey his voice, not to always tell them what to do. But how do leaders do this?
I am accountable to help people grow as a shepherd of the flock, at least at some level (Heb. 13:17). It is easy to feel overwhelmed by this responsibility. But we need to remember that this is spiritual direction. That means it is the work of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:6-16) and we rely on Him. We want people to hear the voice of the Spirit and then obey, or take a step of faith. Any wisdom we offer is rooted in Christ's work and the Spirit's power, and we faithfully and diligently plant and water the seed. God causes the growth…so the pressure is off.
The Leader's Role in Providing direction
Spiritual direction is analogous to being a doctor, a coach, and a parent. As a doctor, we diagnose someone's condition and suggest the next steps. As a coach, we encourage ...