Finding Seekers: How to Develop a Spiritual Direction Practice from Beginning to Full-Time Employment
by Bruce Tallman
Berkeley, CA: Apocryphile Press, 2011
Reviewed by Greg Richardson
Bruce Tallman is a spiritual director in London, Ontario, Canada. He has been a full-time spiritual director for nearly ten years. Finding Seekers: How to Develop a Spiritual Direction Practice from Beginning to Full-Time Employment is based in Tallman's authentic core values and spiritual depth, as well as his practical business ethics and experience. As a spiritual director who is developing a full-time ministry, I find Tallman's insights refreshing, honest, and encouraging. His recommendations have strengthened the ways I am building my own spiritual direction ministry and service.
Tallman estimates that 90 to 95 percent of people who complete spiritual director training do not become full-time spiritual directors. A large part of the initial challenge to becoming a full-time spiritual director is the time it takes to build a ministry. Finding Seekers is an excellent resource to help spiritual directors discern, prepare, and appreciate the costs of building a full-time ministry.
Tallman recognizes that becoming a full-time spiritual director is based in consistent spiritual practices and business practices. He identifies the two basic mistakes people make in building a spiritual direction ministry as either doing everything and expecting nothing from your Higher Power or, conversely, doing nothing and expecting everything from your Higher Power. The calling is to a partnership.
The first point Tallman makes is that spiritual directors are called to help people satisfy their deepest want, need, longing, and desire: that spiritual direction is, by definition, spiritual. My spiritual direction ministry grows out of my relationship to my Higher Power, and it reflects my own spiritual values. Good business and financial results are based in spiritual values and practices. Ethical behavior, managing time and money effectively, treating people fairly, giving good value, and providing excellent service all reflect our core values and help build a spiritual direction ministry.
Finding Seekers is filled with helpful, tangible suggestions about many different aspects of building a spiritual direction ministry. Tallman includes helpful ideas about finding seekers through networking, through giving workshops and retreats, and through social media. He also writes about the challenges of developing a full-time ministry, including discerning the ongoing calling as well as finding spiritual and emotional support. He gives specific, encouraging suggestions about the nuts and bolts of developing the structure of a full-time ministry, determining fees, and growth in the number of spiritual directees. Additionally, Tallman includes a chapter about making certain that one enjoys offering spiritual direction full-time.
Finding Seekers is a tremendous resource if you are interested in building a full-time spiritual direction ministry, whether in the near future or in time to come. It reflects, with honesty and encouragement, the practical challenges and opportunities you will face.
Greg Richardson is a spiritual director and leadership coach in Pasadena, California, USA. He is also a lay oblate with New Camaldoli Monastery near Big Sur, California.