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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Soulful conversations

Talking is the mentoring work of spiritual directors and life coaches

Where do you turn to seek guidance about life's spiritual questions? Perhaps you're a parent who seeks God's presence amid diapers and dirty laundry. Maybe God is calling you to a new career. Or you're nearing retirement and fear empty days ahead. Many parishioners seek assistance from their pastor or a counselor. Two other opportunities for guidance for the Christian life, now growing in recognition, are spiritual direction and life coaching.

Spiritual direction is an ancient practice that grew out of monastic life in the deserts of Egypt. Life coaching began in the early 1980s when founder Thomas Leonard, an accountant, began supporting his clients in planning their lives as well as their finances.

Safe spaces

Both spiritual directors and Christian life coaches offer a safe, objective place for their clients to ask questions and seek support as they try to understand God's presence in their lives.

Ann Bergstrom, an ELCA pastor and spiritual director who serves at Walker Methodist Health Center, Minneapolis, and Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, St. Paul, Minn., says spiritual direction "is about creating a hospitable space and time in which to notice the promptings of the Spirit. In a sense, I'm providing a nest for another person, a safe place. For me, spiritual direction is dealing with the ordinary stuff of life and noting where the holy mystery is and may be leading."


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