SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

Spiritual Direction Is NOT a Boss-Employee Relationship

The director/directee relationship is not analogous to a boss/employee relationship. This is an area where the language of spiritual direction can be a bit confusing in our culture. In normal for post on spiritual direction is notusage of terms, the “Director” tells the one who is directed what to do. Implied is an authority that has punitive power – the power to punish or withhold rewards in the case of disobedience. This is not at all the case with healthy spiritual direction. The directee in this case would be better compared to an athlete and the director a personal coach; specifically, a spiritual fitness coach. Just as with a coach in any sport, the athlete is the one that is ultimately in control. He or she hires a personal coach to help them achieve otherwise elusive goals and perspective. In the end, the level of influence the director has over directee is based on the directee's free choice rather than any position of power. Another helpful comparison common in the East is one of a spiritual healer or physician. Either way, the directee always has the free choice to seek out and follow, or not to follow, the healing and growth available to them through the spiritual physician or coach.

This is an excerpt from Dan Burke's 2012 book Navigating the Interior Life – Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God. To learn more, click here.


Art for this post on what spiritual direction is not: spiritual direction is not a boss-employee relationship: Christ and Saint Mina [or Menas], iconographer unknown, 6th-century icon from Bawit, Egypt, PD-US author's life plus 70 years or less, Wikimedia Commons. Feature image art: from the cover of Dan Burke's book Navigating the Interior Life – Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, used with permission of Dan Burke, all rights reserved.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, the High Calling Seminary Preparation Program, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. In 2018, he launched the annual Avila Summit held at Hanceville, Alabama. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband, father of four, and grandfather of one, the President and Chief Operating Officer of EWTN News, Inc., a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer, speaker and pilgrimage director who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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