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Program Requirements & Curriculum

Program Requirements

The Nebraska Synod offers a two-year program of development for people sensing a call to be spiritual directors for others who are seeking to deepen their spiritual lives and personal relationships with Jesus.

Participants will meet in regularly scheduled residencies, study materials to deepen their understanding of the practices and principles of spiritual direction, and develop skills in both listening and speaking to others about matters of spiritual development. Participation in every residency is essential for the successful completion and certification for this program.

Curriculum

Term 1

Spiritual Disciplines: Various spiritual disciplines and practices will be introduced and experienced in the interest of being able to know and understand more than the individual’s preferred practices.

The Sacred Art of Listening: Listening is indeed an art, and to effectively communicate with someone, you must first understand them. Methods for empathic listening, Faith Café, Listening Stone, and other techniques will be learned and practiced through this two-year program of training. Learn when and how to use simple listening techniques to satisfy one of the deepest needs of the human heart… to be understood.

Diversity: Learning to know individual thinking preferences and the composite composition of the cohort. This helps us to understand not only ourselves but differences we may have with other people.

Theology of the Cross and of Love: Participants are expected to have a solid theological grounding, and more specifically, they will reflect on how these two areas of theology relate to the ministry of spiritual direction.

Background in the Ministry of Spiritual Direction: The classical literature in the realm of spiritual direction is rich and varied. Learning what others with more experience have to teach us about this ministry informs our understanding of the role of the director in the journey with others who seek to grow in their relationship with God. Authors will be selected from Rose Mary Daughtery, Gerald May, Janet Ruffing, Tilden Edwards, Henri Nouwen, Margaret Guenther and others.

Anatomy of Peace: We study this text and related materials in order to see and understanding how finding a heart at peace and seeing others as people are keys to resolving conflict. Understanding these concepts leads to being more fully present and available to those we minister to through spiritual direction.

Term 2

The Christian Mystics: The Christian mystical tradition is key to discovering language for the spiritual journey and understanding the common experiences people might have on that journey. We will explore some of the classic ways of describing those experiences through the works of some of the Spiritual Masters of the Church.

Psychological Issues of Spiritual Direction Ministry: When we care for our “Mind and Spirit,” we become more aware of the stirring within. This compels us to move and explore our being further as we allow God to bring us to spiritual growth. Contemplative theology and psychology interface well as it enhances the understanding of the human longing for God. A study of personality theory is critical to being able to have more clarity in relation to the psychological dimensions of spiritual direction.

Prayer and Spiritual Practices: Participants will continue to broaden their understanding of the many ways to pray and to be present to God through spiritual practices.

Continuing Learning of the Ministry of Spiritual Direction: Learning what others with more experience have to teach us about this ministry informs our understanding of the role of the director in the journey with others who seek to grow in their relationship with God.

Sacred Trust and Boundaries: Presentations that identify potential problem areas, responsibilities, appropriate boundaries of relationships within one-on-one ministry of spiritual direction.

Ethical Standards: Spiritual Directors International Ethical Standards, Confidentiality, and Anonymity required of all spiritual directors who minister with integrity.

Term 3

Spiritual Practices: Continuation from Terms 1 and 2, growing in personal spiritual formation.

Stages of Faith: It is helpful for spiritual directors to be aware of the psychospiritual developmental issues which affect how people relate to and interpret their relationship with God. Class participants will read Paul Smith’s book, Integral Christianity, and engage the stages of faith development through practical scenarios.

Dreamwork: Research indicates that all people dream. To pay attention to one’s dreams gives us access and information we would otherwise miss. Biblically, God often used dreams and visions to communicate with those called to various forms of ministry. Through Seeking the Spirit Within, participants will be introduced to some effective methods for not only remembering but also understanding the meaning of one’s dreams.

Enneagram: This ancient psychological and spiritual instrument helps individuals to both understand their own inner experiences, and to understand the challenges that can arise in director/directee relationships.

Practicum and Supervision: All participants will be expected to find and meet regularly with directees in the second year of the program and participate in supervisory group at residencies.

Term 4

Spiritual Practices: Continuation from Terms 1-3.

Continuing Learning of the Ministry of Spiritual Direction: Learning what others with more experience have to teach us about this ministry informs our understanding of the role of the director in the journey with others who seek to grow in their relationship with God.

Practicum and Supervision: Continuation from Term 3.

Discernment: All of spiritual direction aims to discern God’s presence and will and is more than a method of decision making. Some specific processes of discernment will be presented that are useful in individual and group processes.

The Process of Forgiveness: Father William Meninger says that forgiveness is that most complex but necessary facet of spiritual life. Through this study, we learn to make the act of forgiveness a part of our spiritual practice.

Enneagram Companions: Learning how instincts, gifts, and compulsions of people within the various triads may impact relationships within the context of the ministry of one-on-one spiritual direction.

Certification: Dedication and celebration of completion of the two-year program of preparation for the ministry of spiritual direction.