- Neo-Youth Ministry Series Introduction
- Neo-Youth Ministry Part 1: “Youth”
- Neo-Youth Ministry Part 2: “Ministry”
- Neo-Youth Ministry Part 3: The Youth Minister
- Neo-Youth Ministry Part 4: The Youth Minister as Theologian
- Neo-Youth Ministry Part 5: The Youth Minister as Pastor
- Neo-Youth Ministry Part 6: Youth Minister as Spiritual Director
- Neo-Youth Ministry Part 7: The Youth Minister as Prophet
- Neo-Youth Ministry Part 8: The Youth Minister as Youth Advocate
- Neo-Youth Ministry Part 9: The Youth Minister as Interpreter and Synthesizer
- Neo-Youth Ministry Methods: Education and Teaching
- Neo-Youth Ministry Methods: The End of Bait and Switch
- Neo-Youth Ministry Methods: Local and Contextual
Continuing with my series on Neo-Youth Ministry that began months ago, we now turn to yet another facet of a Neo-Youth Minister: spiritual director. Above all else, a spiritual director is one who listens. In traditional spiritual direction roles, a directee comes and shares with his or her director in a formal, one-on-one setting, similar to a counseling session. The spiritual director listens attentively, asks questions, prays, and offers gentle guidance to the directee how God might be moving in his or her life. In order to be a spiritual director, a few traits are necessary:
- Spiritual Maturity. It is already difficult to discern the working of God in the complexity of someone’s life. It is impossible to do it if your relationship with God doesn’t receive the proper care.
- Patience. Spiritual direction usually does not produce any brilliant “ah-ha!” moments instantaneously. Instead, the value of spiritual discipline can usually be measured by its cumulative effect over a period of time. Hoping to radically change someone’s life in a few sessions is not spiritual direction.
- Attentiveness. First of all a spiritual director must be attentive to the person whom he or she is directing. The director must listen deeply. Paying attention not only to the words that are said, but also to the words that are not said, the inflection of one’s voice, breathing habits, and mannerisms will allow the director to truly hear what a person is trying to communicate. And within that attentiveness to the other person, the director must also be attentive to God. In reality, a spiritual direction session is a prolonged time of paired prayer. The director will be in a spirit of prayer as he or she listens. This will allow the director to discern where God might be active in the lives of those that he or she directs.
Now, I am not saying that a youth minister must be a spiritual director to every youth in their church. There will be times when you play the role of spiritual director in the life of an individual person. But I am talking about being the spiritual director for the whole ministry. Our goal should be to see God at work and shape the ministry in the direction he is leading. In order to see, hear, and discern God at work, we must be spiritually mature, tending to our own lives. We must be patient and realize that success will not happen overnight nor is it measured by overnight success. We must be attentive and notice when God is moving in a new direction in order that we may follow him.
This is a far cry from copying the latest methods of successful youth ministries. Such a youth minister will lead a contextual ministry that follows in the footsteps where God has already been walking.