Seminary Program Focuses on Spiritual Direction

Seminary students study at the Center for Spiritual Direction

CHICAGO, IL (March 6, 2009) – Neil Taylor learned he wasn’t as smart as he thought when he went through the Center for Spiritual Direction program at North Park Theological Seminary. But his hearing improved.

“I hate to admit this point of pride, but I gave myself far more credit than was due in my natural abilities to give spiritual direction to others,” says Taylor, a pastor at Jesus People USA Covenant Church, an intentional community in Chicago. “Spiritual direction training gave me a different ear to listen.”

His former method consisted of listening to others describe their circumstances and then offering his wisdom. Taylor was clinging to this technique, even though it didn’t work.

“For 30 some odd years of living in community, I’ve never been successful in fixing myself, and I’ve never been able to fix someone else,” he says. Over the course of the three-year program he learned a new approach. “It taught me to not offer a solution very quickly and to depend on God to do the work that needs to be done in a person’s life,” Taylor explains. “Spiritual direction training gave me a different ear to listen to the person and hopefully to God.”

The change represented Taylor’s new understanding of spiritual direction. Direction is a process by which individuals help others discern and respond to the movement of God in their lives. Those offering direction may introduce those needing guidance to various disciplines.

In addition to giving him ears to hear, Taylor says the spiritual direction program reenergized him and his classmates.

The program is made possible through a $1.6 million Lilly Grant for the Evangelical Covenant Church’s Sustaining Pastoral Excellence program. Applications are being accepted through March 31 for the next session, which begins in late July.