I found this on the Missional Church Network blog I thought worth posting after my brief thoughts on spiritual friendship. This is by Georges Boujakly.
“A couple of years ago I attended a week-long retreat called a 5-Day Spiritual Academy. This particular retreat was a ministry of Upper Room Ministries and was held in Wichita at the Catholic Life Center. After the retreat I completed a writing project and received credit for a course in doctoral work I was doing at the time. (They have a two year Spiritual Academy in case you are interested in training in spiritual friendship.)
From that experience I became more aware than ever before for my need of a spiritual director. I asked one of the leaders of the retreat and he recommended a spiritual director where I live. I see this person monthly and am thankful for the help I receive. I now return the favor to several people.
Spiritual friendship has gained more ground among evangelicals of late. It’s not that it was not happening before; it just was not the norm. It is still far from being the norm but I am convinced it is heading in that direction.
Another way of speaking of spiritual friendship is to use the term spiritual direction (considered a Catholic term by many). We in the evangelical camp are reluctant to speak in terms of spiritual direction because, among many other reasons, we fear giving any one person that much authority in our lives.
Therefore, some are more comfortable with the term spiritual friendship where we receive and give some direction for the spiritual life. One drawback to this terminology is it tends to be more of an accountability (This is beneficial but it’s not the point of spiritual friendship) session than listening to the voice of God in the life of another. My contention is that there are gifted people in the body of Christ who are especially called to listen to what God is doing in the lives of others and input significant direction for the future. “Why?” I can imagine someone asking. “Why can’t I listen to my own life and give my own direction to my own life?” Short answer: Spiritual growth in the Christian way is a communal project.
So when do I need a spiritual friend most? And why?
- When I realize that I am but one person and I have limits. Do I hear an Amen? All kinds of limits: Physical, intellectual, spiritual. Although I know a lot about theology, I can’t make sense of all the tragedies of life. Another’s perspective is priceless.
- Although I may consider myself in shape spiritually there are times when I experience fatigue.
- Although I may be fit spiritually, I need help to get to the next level where I have never been with the help of one who has.
- Although I can see progress in my spiritual life, I can get stuck spiritually and need help getting unstuck.
- I have at times prayed to a prayer proof ceiling and needed help to get beyond it. When prayer seems like an unbearable chore and a royal waste of time, I need a spiritual friend.
- I have had times when my eyes could not see but ink on the pages of my Bible. Ink without life is darkness. Another’s light can do wonders.
- I have had the spiritual wind knocked out of me when I was running full stride in faithful service to God and others.
- When the promises of God seem too future and too heavenly to be any earthly good.
- When the connection is unplugged I wonder if someone with broad band fiber optic spirituality might help to reconnect me.
Enter spiritual friendship.
Finally, here are a few assumptions about spiritual friendship.
First: Spiritual friendship should be sought by everyone since it is a character trait of God. He is the friend of Abraham, David, the disciples, the sinner. Friendship has a divine address before an earthly one.
Second: Spiritual friendship assumes that the Spirit of God resides in my spiritual friend.
Third: Openness is characteristic of God and openness is the bedrock of spiritual friendship. Jesus, the Son of God, is called the Word of God. My preferred way of understanding this concept of the Word is Revealer. He opens up God to us. He opens the heart of God to us. A spiritual friend helps open our heart to God.
Fourth: I assume my spiritual friend is as flawed as I am but have sufficient humility that God uses broken eikons.
What then is the end of spiritual friendship? Growth into the likeness of Jesus Christ. Spiritual friends help us remain on the path of spiritual growth.
Spiritual friendship cannot stop at unburdening ourselves from sin. It must direct us toward godliness. In a spiritual friendship relationship, the object is not to dump all that has been happening in my life since the last time I talked with my friend. Rather, if my friend has been listening carefully to the movement of the Holy Spirit within and with me, he or she will understand better what I am going through and be able to suggest a path for growth.”