This book is a basic overview of the discipline of spiritual direction and how to go about it. Smith makes the point that as Christians we do not need to be alone in life’s journey and expresses how spiritual direction can help people to navigate the journey of life in a more intentional way. As we think about the journey of leadership this is equally true – it is, in my opinion important that leaders take seriously the idea of spiritual direction for their leadership if we hope to overcome the obstacles that we can so often face in leadership e.g. pride, ego, misuse of power etc.
Spiritual Direction makes it clear that to be a good spiritual director a person needs to be in a relationship where they have a spiritual director and I think this is a very important point that Smith makes – we must role model what we are advocating.
There is a basic overview of spiritual discipline and would be good for those who have not engaged with the discipline at all. For those who have been involved in this kind of ministry in the past it might be considered a little superficial.
It examines the theological perspectives of spiritual direction, as it helps to put the discipline in a theological framework and I think those who have been involved in spiritual direction in the past will find this very useful – there are some interesting insights into the Trinitarian nature of the character and work of God, as well as examining the character of religious experience and the impact this can have on individuals and the church. For someone who is involved in mentoring, coaching and spiritual direction I think this chapter will be very useful. However, one of the weaknesses of the book is the author’s definition of mentoring and coaching and how it differs from spiritual direction. I felt the definitions were a little superficial and anyone reading the book that had little understanding of these disciplines would in my opinion not get an accurate view of what they are and how they differ.
There are chapters on the importance of focused conversation and of listening. These chapters are very practical and give a variety of examples of what a Spiritual Director should do. There are also very helpful guidelines for the Directee as well and I found this particularly useful as it could be used during a preliminary meeting of Director and Directee, as the expectations for the relationship are discussed and set out by each party.
Due to the nature of the book – it is an easy read book – it would be good to encourage all leaders both experienced and new - to read the book in order to help them see how spiritual direction can help them in their own discipleship and leadership.
Sharon Prior is a freelance trainer and Chair of the Trustee Board.