QUALITIES TO REFLECT UPON FOR SPIRITUAL
Although it is not possible to establish absolute objective criteria for "good" spiritual directors, the following qualities may be of value for processes of evaluation and feedback:
1. FAITH AND TRUST: An underlying awareness of graced life happening through the directee and oneself, and in the direction relationship, calling forth both sincere appreciation and discerning response. Confidence and faith in the mysterious, loving way of the Tribune God, as contrasted with insecure, narrow defensiveness or ambivalence of faith. A capacity to turn to God in trust rather than either overconfidence in one's own abilities or being paralyzed by lack of self confidence.
2. HUMAN LIMITATIONS: Awareness, acceptance, and willingness to confess one's own and the directee's sinfulness, blindness, woundedness, incompleteness, and limitations of understanding and knowledge. Attentive patience and willingness to wait for visible effects of grace that cannot be forced.
3. HUMAN POSSIBILITIES: Seeing, hearing, and caring beneath the surface to the unique expression of the image of God hidden within the directee; praying for its emergence in fullness, and for oneself as an open channel for the grace that will enable this fulfillment. The capacity to "hang in with" the directee through times of resistance or seeming stagnation.
4. HUMAN SPECIFICS: Discerning attentiveness to the circumstances of the directee's life (e.g. age, sex, personality, culture, tradition, life situation) and to the ways grace is helped and hindered through such circumstances. The capacity to notice patterns in a person's growth. Awareness of feelings and psychological dynamics within oneself, the directee, and the relationship without allowing this awareness to change the focus of the relationship from the directee's life with God to problem-solving or ego-coping counseling. The ability to distinguish one's own desires and fears from those of the directee, and to focus on God's activity and invitations in the directee's life.
5. COMMUNICATIONS: The ability to speak of God, Christ, Spirit, grace, prayer, etc. sensitively and without emptying them of their mystery, in language that is clear and meaningful to the directee. The capacity to be a good listener; to hear, reflect, and summarize what the directee is saying, to help the directee remain focused, and to be relatively free of one's own preoccupations while with the directee. An intention toward innocent, clear, prayerful presence with directee.
6. RESPONSIBILITY: Maintaining a serious personal spiritual life and authentic spiritual direction for oneself, as well as ongoing support and supervision for one's ministry of direction. Clarity of the accountability for one's agreed-upon covenants with directee, including time and length of meetings, mutual expectations and intents, evaluation processes, prayer with and for each other, etc. Ability to keep confidences shared. Reverent dedication to the protection of the directee's personal freedom for discernment, and the avoidance of any subtle or overt behavior that might compromise this freedom (e.g. fostering dependency or excessive personal attachment, sexual or psychological controlling behavior). Willingness to risk displeasure by saying something "hard" that needs to be said, for the sake of the directee, and to refer the directee for professional help in any area of life that goes beyond one's own competence or is inappropriate for a spiritual direction relationship.
7. CALLING: A sense of real calling to attend with others to their spiritual discernment and discipline, as evidenced by being spontaneously sought out for help in attending to the spiritual life, as contrasted with a feeling that spiritual direction is something special one wants to be able to do. A consequent attitude of humility and service rather than pride, superiority, or self-service.
8. KNOWLEDGE: A familiarity with the basic Scriptural and theological interpretations and disciplines of the Christian community that apply to spiritual nurture and experience. A basic familiarity with the dynamics of spiritual growth and of interior phenomena as understood in classical Christian spiritual tradition as well as in modern science, and an awareness of where to turn for further resources in these areas.
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