Three Case Studies

A

A relatively young ordinand who has come to spiritual direction because they were told they should have a spiritual director while training. The conversation is rather stilted with some awkward pauses. What should I talk about? What do I say now? After a bit you get into exploring their prayer life. You get asked ‘What do you advise? Tell me what I should do?’ When you turn the question back to them they look surprised. ‘Aren’t you meant to guide me?’

  • What would this experience arouse in you?
  • How would it challenge your understanding of your role?
  • What ‘gaps’ are you perceiving between their understanding / expectations of this relationship and yours?
  • What might you explore or offer to help things?

B

You meet with a middle-aged ‘searcher’ (their self-description) who was suggested to talk to you by a mutual friend. They have no significant Christian experience, but describes themselves as seeking deeper meaning and purpose in life. They are quite chatty about themselves and their journey. The talk has many new-age and spiritualist words and phrases – crystals, asking the universe, messages from the other side… As you listen you have a sense of deep unclarity about what they are talking about and how you might help. It all feels rather self-absorbed, if not self-obsessed.

  • What would this experience arouse in you?
  • How would it challenge your understanding of your role?
  • What ‘gaps’ are you perceiving between their understanding / expectations of this relationship and yours?
  • What might you explore or offer to help things?

C

A vicar has been coming to you for several sessions, and you’ve found yourself listening to a great deal about their parish, their ministry, long stories about pastoral cases, challenges with relationships with members of the church and community. ‘but God is good’. You have made several attempts in each meeting to shift from their ministry to their personal sense of self and relationship with God, but have not been able to see any shift in focus. They seem to really appreciate the space you give, but you are left uneasy.

  • What would this experience arouse in you?
  • How would it challenge your understanding of your role?
  • What ‘gaps’ are you perceiving between their understanding / expectations of this relationship and yours?
  • What might you explore or offer to help things?
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