Rev. Andy Frazier, pastor at Bonner Springs UMC in Bonner Springs, KS., writes the first in a series of blog posts of clergy testimonies about Spiritual Direction. The Office of Clergy Excellence is sharing some resources—including grants—about Spiritual Direction and Soul Care.
I started spiritual direction about 6 months after I became a pastor, which is about 8 years ago now. In the grand scheme of things, 8 years is not all that long...but, oh has it been an eventful 8 years! Three appointments, 2 kids coming into this world, 1 parent leaving it.
I have endured countless critiques and ideas floated on my leadership and preaching style, on my clothes and personality. I have experienced a whole host of pastoral care situations that have left me speechless and heartbroken, wounded and wiser. I have entered the covenant of marriage which even just by itself has asked of me to dig deeply within myself. The vulnerability of being in the spotlight and newly married, gave my soul the option to adapt and flourish or regress and grow bitter and hardened.
With or without spiritual direction, I would have likely survived those things. Without it, though, I often wonder how much worse off I might be. I wonder if and how well my career and close relationships would have made it through. I wonder if my soul would have been able to work through and integrate those disappointments, critiques, and losses as well. I wonder if the joys, too, might've been more muted. I wonder what kind of dad I would be without all those intentional hours I have spent unpacking my angers and anxieties and deep insecurities. It's not magic or rocket science, but without a doubt, it is a means by which I have experienced God's grace profoundly in my life.
TO be truly seen and heard. TO be known. TO be reminded that it's okay to be broken and limited. TO be reminded that God's grace extends to me, too. TO be shepherded...when I spend so much time doing that for others.
Yes, I am still a hopeless pain in the behind sometimes – I lose my temper with my family, I say something less than ideal from the pulpit, and EVERY time I neglect to offer those elusive perfect words that magically take people's pain away in pastoral care situations. BUT I do honestly think spiritual direction has made me suck at those things a lot less...and frankly, that in itself makes it pretty worth it.
An investment of an hour or two a month can make those other 700-something hours much more centered and whole. If you're on the fence about it, just give it a try. I reluctantly said yes – even though it was way outside my comfort zone – and it has paid dividends in my spiritual, emotional, and relational health.
– Rev. Andy Frazier