One way of overcoming this trap is to connect with persons trained and skilled to help your parishioners in ways that you are not able to provide. For example, you may already have a wonderful network of dedicated and trained lay persons such as Stephen Ministers, Eucharistic Ministries, Deacons, Elders, and so forth. Maybe you have a Parish Nurse who provides valuable resources for persons facing physical challenges or issues relating to aging and care-giving. Or you already refer persons to Christian Counselors or other therapists and offer to help them along the path towards healing and wholeness.
A specialty area which you may not have considered is spiritual direction.
Some of the most commonly realized benefits of spiritual direction are:
• deeper awareness of God’s presence, love, and grace in all things
• deeper connection to your true self, others, and creation
• learning new spiritual disciplines, prayer, meditation, etc.
• discerning God’s will in decisions you face
• renewal or deepening of faith, hope, life’s purpose
• support and encouragement in all life’s spiritual struggles with relationships, family, your work or calling, goals, dreams, loss, illness, recovery, religious teachings, etc.
• more silence, serenity, freedom, meaning, and wisdom in your life
Here's a way for you to extend the opportunity for spiritual direction to your congregation:
I recently completed work on a doctoral program in spiritual direction and formation at Houston Graduate School of Theology, hold a certificate in spiritual direction from the Formation in Direction program of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas (also teach in the program), am a member of Spiritual Directors International, and have been working with clients/directees since 2006. On my website I've posted background information, testimonials/social proof, as well as descriptions of workshops and talks available for congregational spiritual growth. My blog is available there also.
While I am located in the Houston area, spiritual direction does NOT have to be done “face to face” in person. I regularly work with clients via Skype, Facetime, and phone. This allows the person to have the session from the comfort and privacy of their own home or office, with no travel time and cost, and no traffic or weather to contend with. (Currently, I do not have an office space in a local congregation. For referrals who are local and want to meet in person, we can arrange this, with a few days of lead time.)
I’d love to be a referral resource for you and to help you be more effective and less stressed in your pastoral ministry. Please let me know what you need! If you’d like to get together for coffee or a quick lunch to talk about spiritual direction and formation or about scheduling something for your congregation, I’m always available!