Yoori Shen should have been in her spiritual sweet spot. Shen became a Christian after coming to Canada as an international student. Since then, her faith had been maturing. She found a church home at New Westminster Christian Reformed Church (Burnaby, B.C.), and she even began serving in International Student Ministries at nearby Simon Fraser University.
It seemed as if she had found a calling that perfectly matched her own story. Yet Shen sensed something was wrong.
“I was stuck in many ways,” Shen said. “I was burned out. I felt like it was time to restore my foundation with God.”
But Shen recognized that she “did Christian ministry” professionally. She was supposed to be the one who helped other people with their faith. Who would help this helper?
Shen, like an increasing number of Christian Reformed members and ministers, found help by meeting with a spiritual director for monthly sessions of spiritual direction.
In spiritual direction, the director “gives 100 percent of their attention to listening along with you to what the Spirit is saying,” said David Deters, a CRC minister and one of about 40 CRC spiritual directors. “A director doesn’t give advice,” said fellow director and minister Carol Muller. “A director listens with you to the voice of God in your life.”
That’s what Shen needed. In her monthly meetings, her director helped her notice there were parts of her life that she resisted letting God enter. “Direction helped me see that God was in (those parts) too. He was present in all those moments. Direction gives me space to bring my real struggle. I don’t have to pretend everything is well.”
Spiritual direction has proven to be so helpful for ministry leaders like Shen that Pastor Church Resources has leveraged grants to form a cohort of regional pastors across the U.S. and Canada to receive direction themselves. Regional pastors are active or retired pastors who provide pastoral support to active clergy and spouses in a classis. Often referred to as “pastors for pastors,” they have been grateful for the opportunity to obtain spiritual direction.
One regional pastor, Jon Huizinga, said, “I’ve had coaches and supervisors. But (my director) is a person who helps me not with my performance but just with me—how am I doing in the presence of Jesus. … It’s been so delightful to come to a meeting where it’s not my job to perform but just to rest in the presence of Jesus.”