Nurture for Pastors and Leaders—A Spiritual Direction Story

Many leaders find that meeting regularly with a spiritual director is essential for ongoing spiritual growth.  Being able to talk and pray with a trained listener/guide helps them pay more careful attention to the ways God is at work in their lives.  Meeting with a spiritual director is especially useful during times of discernment or spiritual struggle.  Sherah-Leigh Gerber, who works for Ohio Conference of Mennonite Church USA as half-time Coordinator of Volunteers, writes about her experience of receiving spiritual direction below.

HopeBy Sherah-Leigh Gerber

I couldn’t tear my eyes from the statue my spiritual director had added to the small table in the room where we met. The comfortable room in her home is unadorned, so this small addition stood out.

Usually, I find the small statues beautiful. But this one was different– Stumpy legs, upturned face, wire….it stirred up such unpleasantness within me. I tried to not look at it, but I could hardly look away.

That week, I didn’t even address the issue this brought to mind with my spiritual director, but we did talk about the dark-night-of-the-soul I was experiencing. She suggested that I find a word or symbol to help me focus over the next month. I knew the haunting figure would be my token.

I placed it near the kitchen sink. Every time I went to wash my hands it stood there, mocking me—how could I be dancing? How could I have my face upturned towards God? How could I hold on to hope when all that was available to me was a thin thread? What was encouraging about seeing hope floating above me, just out of reach?

Yet day after day, dirty dish after dirty dish, I was reminded to hold on to hope. My heart was softened as I was challenged to change my posture—flinging wide my arms instead of covering over my heart, turning my face towards God.

Coming through that tough time, I realized that hope is a slippery thing. It can be the greatest gift and a terrible consolation prize. Being hopeful means that we accept that we live in the already and not yet. My commitment and work in spiritual direction assists me in this ongoing journey.

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For a list of Spiritual Directors within Mennonite Church USA follow this link.

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One thought on “Nurture for Pastors and Leaders—A Spiritual Direction Story

  1. Wish my father had lived to see this one ~ M. Morrow-Farrell, Philadelphia, PA.

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