In the context of “spiritual direction”, Teresa says we “should be most studious to render obedience.” “Obedience” to another person sounds scary, yet we do it all the time. After carefully selecting a doctor, an accountant, a mechanic, or a financial planner we listen to their expertise and execute the plan.
When I go for my annual medical check-up, I don’t go because I’m sick. I go to ensure my health. Going into the check-up, I already know the basics of eating right and exercise along with a number of other things. I also have helpful information from health conscious family and friends. But my doctor still adds value. She can run blood work, consider family history, age, and gender. She can identify focus areas I might not have considered and also let me know if I’m expending effort on areas that will only bring marginal results. I can leave with high impact activities and an economy of effort. Executing the plan is “participatory obedience”.
It is frustrating for “experts” to have people not follow their plan. These individuals treat expert advice as a cafeteria plan or only give half-hearted effort to the critical dimensions of a plan. Then these individuals blame the expert when the plans don’t work. (Is it really the accountants fault we didn’t save our receipts?)
When it comes to our spiritual condition — we already know the basics. Our spiritual friends can add a great deal of information to help us. Accountability partners can challenge and assess our commitment. But the spiritual director can help us identify what God is doing in detail and the next steps. While a spiritual director can assist people struggling spiritually, they’re not primarily concerned with problem solving or counseling. They’re concerned with God’s activity in the life of an individual. Spiritual direction is particularly helpful for those already attentive to their spiritual growth.
Teresa’s says we should be “studious” in obedience. After we identify what God is doing along with the next steps we study: We study the plan in detail, execute the plan, review the outcomes, and make adjustments. This is how we get better at anything, including spirituality.
For Spiritual Direction Part One: Click Here
For Spiritual Direction Part Two: Click Here
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