November 28, 2023 -


Should I Get A Spiritual Director? A Conversation

Dr. Janet Hinds

Dr. Janet Hinds, spiritual direction
In this episode Chealsia chats with her spiritual director, Dr. Janet Hinds, to help you demystify spiritual direction so you can consider how it could help you grow in both your relationship with God and your calling. They chat about the origins of spiritual direction, how it’s different from counseling and how it’s been an impactful resource throughout Dr. Hinds’ life.

Episode Reflection

An Invitation to Explore: 

“Spiritual direction is the practice of discerning the activity of God in the life of another.” – Barbara L. Peacock, Soul Care in African American Practice

Dr. Janet Hindsdescribes spiritual direction as a process where someone comes alongside you  to seek the Holy Spirit and help you discern God’s presence in the details of your life. 

A Scripture To Cherish: 

“When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will be the one to tell you. He will be your one true spirit guide and will lead you down the path of truth. He will fully represent me and will tell you only what I have told him. The Spirit will show you what is coming on the road ahead. He will honor me by making known to you everything I have shown him. All that I am and all that I have comes from the Father. He has not held back one thing from me, and the Spirit will not hold back anything from you.”

 – John 16:13-15, First Nations Version

A Practice To Try: 

Lectio Divina translates to “divine reading.” It is a prayerful and reflective way to read scripture with an ear toward hearing God speak. Dr. Janet Hinds shared that “lectio divina” is not about gaining knowledge about God, but instead it’s about being transformed by Him. Here are some guidelines to help you:

Spend some time in silence and quiet yourself before God. 

Pick a story from scripture, for example, Mark 10:17-29. Read the passage out loud if you can and slowly. Linger on any words or phrases that catch your attention. 

Read the passage a second time, but this time listen for where that word or phrase connects to your life. Maybe there’s a scene that sticks out to you or sparks your imagination. Use your imagination to place yourself in the story. 

Read the passage a third time. How is God inviting you to respond to this passage? Respond to him in prayer. 

Give yourself some space to be still before God once more, taking this time with Him into the rest of your day. 

Key Things To Remember: 

Ancient Roots: Spiritual direction is nothing new, but comes from the model of the desert mothers and fathers, those who were set apart and sought out the presence of God. Dr. Hinds points to John the Baptist as an example of someone who spent time in silence, solitude and helped point others to the presence and purposes of God. 

Spirit Led: Instead of looking to a person to tell you what to do next, spiritual direction is about holding space and providing support for you to listen to the Holy Spirit and be directed by Him. Through reflective questioning, prayer and spiritual practices, the director listens with an ear to where God is at work in your life.  

Wise Counsel: Though you may walk through grief, disappointment and strong emotions in spiritual direction, it isn’t the same as counseling. Dr. Janet Hinds shared that spiritual direction isn’t a place for diagnoses but instead it’s a place for you to ask hard questions, have someone sit and intercede for you and leantoward God’s presence in community. 

Resources To Help: 

Invitation to A Journey: A Roadmap for Spiritual Formation by M. Robert Mulholland Jr. 

Soul Care in African American Practice by Barbara L. Peacock

Soul Reparations, offers one year of free spiritual direction for BIPOC women. 


Dr. Janet Hinds: [00:00:00] And so when you look, you might say to yourself, six years? But every month? Do you really need to talk to her every month for six years? It’s a time for me to check in and sharing things that puzzled me when I’ve been reading the word, going through grief with her in my life, with her kind of holding my hand as I went through it and reminding me of God and his promises to me. And it is well worth it. It has been well worth someone coming alongside with me.

Chealsia: [00:00:46] Welcome to the Created For podcast. A space where our everyday lives intersect with God’s redemptive story. I’m your host, Chealsia Smedley, and the voice you just heard was Dr. Janet Hines, who is my spiritual director, sharing about the impact spiritual direction has had in her own life. Mentorship and discipleship are common words in Christian circles, but what about spiritual direction? What even is spiritual direction? Who is it for? Where does it come from, and how can it help you walk closely with Jesus and live out your unique calling in the world? In this episode, Janet helps me answer these questions by sharing her own experiences as both a spiritual director and a spiritual director so that you can know how spiritual direction can impact you, too. 

Hi, Dr. Hinds.

Dr. Janet Hinds: [00:01:44] Hi.

Chealsia: [00:01:45] It’s so great to have you and talk to you and the Created For podcast.

Dr. Janet Hinds: [00:01:48] Yeah, I’m excited.

Chealsia: [00:01:50] Just for people who are listening. You are the Director of Spiritual Formation here at Sanctuary Columbus Church.

Dr. Janet Hinds: [00:01:59] Yes.

Chealsia: [00:01:59] And we’ve been doing spiritual direction together for nine months about.

Dr. Janet Hinds: [00:02:04] Yes.

Chealsia: [00:02:05] And it has just been such a joy and really encouraging. I so appreciate you and the ways that you have even, like, interceded for me in prayer and have been coming alongside me in, in life. And so I’m excited for people to hear from you and learn more about you.

Dr. Janet Hinds: [00:02:25] Oh my gosh, thank you so much.

Chealsia: [00:02:27] Yeah. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Dr. Janet Hinds: [00:02:29] Well, I’m not a native Ohioan. I come from Long Island, New York, and I’ve been here now almost 20 years.

Chealsia: [00:02:38] Okay,

Dr. Janet Hinds: [00:02:39] My background is elementary ed and leadership in education. I was an adjunct professor at Stony Brook University and then went into administration. And so I’ve taught from third grade to sixth grade and been a principal in three elementary schools. My doctoral work is on the effects of complex post-traumatic stress on children living in poverty and what it does to the teacher’s practice. But for the most part, I just, I just love people and I hurt when they hurt. I’ve committed my life to the Lord in ’78, which is a little over 40 years now. And so I’m certified in spiritual formation from Renovaré Institute. And then locally, I went to spiritual direction instruction as well, and have spent three years in spiritual direction school to learn how to come alongside other people in many different states: grief, joy, peace, confusion, disappointment, hurt, wounds. And, of course, you know, some of that I’m used to the research on it, but I didn’t take the road of psychologists or analysts or social worker. But spiritual direction, which is what I do here at Sanctuary, is come alongside with people who are being challenged or the world is just so dark with them and come alongside them, leaning on the Spirit of God to help them through hard times. And so that’s where you and I met, and I’m pretty excited to be where I am right now.

Chealsia: [00:04:36] That’s great. Can you share for people who haven’t been through spiritual direction, like a definition for spiritual direction or what is spiritual direction, actually?

Dr. Janet Hinds: [00:04:48] Well, first of all, it involves the Trinity. It involves a person like me, which would be called the director, and then a person seeking mentorship or someone to walk with them. And so in that triangle is opportunity for the director, the directee, and the Holy Spirit to begin to dismantle slowly, sometimes fast, dismantle their heartache, their grief, their pain, and bring them off that like shipwreck of where they are back to dry land. So, it’s a person that has a mentor. But with that mentor comes the focus of the Holy Spirit being the director, really. So there’s time spent in prayer together. There’s time spent in learning spiritual practices such as centering prayer, fasting, solitude, silence, and things such as that. How to become a mature Christian. Everything that happens to us in the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the things that we go through, and we come out on the other side stronger. It is for the sake of other people, not just for ourselves. So, spiritual direction strengthens Christians as they move through real life. To have a mentor to sit with you, listen to you, pray for you, help you through spiritual practices is, is a wonderful place, and I’m thankful that I’m here.

Chealsia: [00:06:30] Where does spiritual direction come from?

Dr. Janet Hinds: [00:06:33] Well, my history books talk about the Roman Empire and all that it did and so forth. And so when I was in school, we learned about the wise people that moved out of that environment and moved to the desert. They called them the desert mothers and fathers, and people would seek them for understanding of life as it was then. What’s going on? What should I do? Should I forgive my neighbor? Should I, you know, do this? Should I run away? Should I do that? And so, people would seek those mentors, which were early directors, male and female. And so they’re alive and well here on planet Earth, you know. So that’s our model.

Chealsia: [00:07:17] Okay.

Dr. Janet Hinds: [00:07:18] And then it further comes into the church.

Chealsia: [00:07:21] That’s cool. I didn’t know that. And I think even like seeing that it’s rooted in Christian tradition.

Dr. Janet Hinds: [00:07:28] Yes.

Chealsia: [00:07:28] That isn’t this like outside thing that came in.

Dr. Janet Hinds: [00:07:31] And and the last 15 years, I’ve learned about that. And I’ve told you how long I’ve been walking with the Lord. And so it came at a time in my life that I really wanted I was getting ready to retire and so forth, and, and I really wanted to move in an area that I knew God had previously used my life and mentoring people, coming alongside with them. Making a dinner, you know, reading the Bible with them and so forth. And now I’ve learned, you know, in practice by getting certified of what the desert Mothers and fathers did and how much they did. Did they solve the problem? Did they direct them to go and do something, or did they give them wise counsel? You know, and that’s what a spiritual director is. They give wise counsel according to the word of God.

Chealsia: [00:08:27] Okay. Yeah. So okay, just the desert mothers and fathers because you said that phrase. Can you give me an example of a desert mother?

Dr. Janet Hinds: [00:08:36] Yeah. Would be someone that, you know, if you look at all of these old movies and read the old books, they were separate. They didn’t buy into everything that all these different religions and spiritualists and so forth. They believed in the Word of God. They followed God, and they waited for God to speak to them before they spoke to others. And that’s a spiritual director waiting for God to speak to them before they speak to others. So, who do we know that was in the desert, and we know John the Baptist was in the desert. He, he lived separate and alone, but he knew Jesus when Jesus appeared. How did he know that? He knew that because he spent time with God, as we were talking about.

Chealsia: [00:09:22] Can you describe kind of what led you personally to spiritual direction?

Dr. Janet Hinds: [00:09:26] I think it has to a lot to do with my age and how long I have been committed to serving God. Like anyone else, I’ve been disillusioned and probably have hurts and pain that I cannot completely understand, but have through other people walking with me through some of the dark times in my life, I knew that that was what God was calling me to do, and I’ve always done it through mentoring or a Bible study that I taught. But when I looked into contemplative practices and started sharing them with people that I know and then of course, share them in workshops and retreats and things here at Sanctuary, it was exactly what I wanted. Not rules and regulations, but I wanted to know how do I really come along someone who is disillusioned or who even wants to grow. It’s not always disillusionment. How do I do that? What format do I do that? And do I make it up? And so when I found that there was such thing as spiritual direction and spiritual formation, I really just went to the schools for that. And so I’m certified in both spiritual formation and spiritual direction.

Chealsia: [00:10:47] Yeah. That’s great. Who should seek spiritual direction, or when should I seek spiritual direction?

Dr. Janet Hinds: [00:10:55] When we know and have a relationship with God, or we’re challenging our relationship with God? There’s so many things in the world has caused us to think that, you know, no, this is not the road I should be going down. For people that are they know they’re being challenged in their growth. They know the truth of the Word. But it’s just so hard and so hard to do it alone. Some people also are those that are afraid to tell someone that they need help, but to know that there is a place where they can be mentored through the Holy Spirit, through the ministry of God.

Chealsia: [00:11:43] Yeah. I don’t know why at some point, I thought that spiritual direction was just like, if you’re making a major decision and you need maybe because the word direction, but it sounds like you’re saying that it is for any period of your life, whether you’re making a big decision or you’re not, but you just need someone to come alongside you and help you kind of grow in your relationship with God.

Dr. Janet Hinds: [00:12:07] That is exactly right. You’re exactly right.

Chealsia: [00:12:10] Okay.

Dr. Janet Hinds: [00:12:10] And so it, it could be any of those things. And so here’s the, the thing also, if you look at a small thing where a person needs some guidance to find out what their next steps are, they may not stay with spiritual direction for a long period of time. This is the time that they needed that direction, and so they would come into spiritual direction. It may be a month or two. It may be one conversation. Yeah, and they’re fine. They know that they have a person that is experienced, that knows how to walk with them. And so it may be a short session, you know, and then there may be a longer session, or there may be a group session for spiritual formation as well.

Chealsia: [00:12:58] I know that you’ve had spiritual directors as well, and so I would love to hear how that has even impacted you.

Dr. Janet Hinds: [00:13:04] Oh, this is wonderful. When you go into training for spiritual direction, you, too, have to have a spiritual director. Someone that I knew personally told me about her spiritual director, and I called her, had my interview with her, and just knew that she was the one. And so she and I have been meeting now once a month for six years.

Chealsia: [00:13:28] Wow.

Dr. Janet Hinds: [00:13:28] When you look, you might say to yourself, six years? What? Every month? You really need to talk to her every month for six years? It’s a time for me to check in and check my thinking, sharing things that puzzled me when I’ve been reading the word, going through grief with her in my life, with her kind of holding my hand as I went through it, and reminding me of God and his promises to me. Situations with family members, situation with jobs, you know, those kinds of things. And it is well worth it. It has been well worth someone coming alongside with me.

Chealsia: [00:14:11] Can you share, like, maybe a story or an example?

Dr. Janet Hinds: [00:14:14] The one thing that comes to mind is the loss of my daughter in the last two years. And I didn’t talk to my spiritual director for about two months, and talked to much of anybody for about two months and calmed down enough to call her. She sent me a text, you know, wanting to know if everything was all right, and then I told her what had happened. So, she took me through some really dark times. Some negative things that I was thinking about. Did I do enough? Should of, would of, could of. You know, all of those things that kind of drive us into a dark place. But I had my spiritual director. I have people at my church, of course, but she knows me in a way that God has opened her heart and mind to who I am, and I trust her, and yeah, she just held my hand and, and I’m so thankful that I had her in my life. And she’s been through with me with a lot of things. But that’s the most recent thing. Yeah, yeah.

Chealsia: [00:15:38] Thank you for sharing that. Sorry for your loss.

Dr. Janet Hinds: [00:15:41] You’re welcome.

Chealsia: [00:15:42] So I think you’ve touched on this a little bit, but what is the difference between spiritual direction and therapy?

Dr. Janet Hinds: [00:15:48] Okay. So usually those people that are that are in the route of psychiatry or social work, and so forth, that’s usually for something that needs to be addressed right now, overcoming anxiety or depression or so forth that needs a medical doctor. That’s not something that you would come to spiritual direction for. And I would never minister to you to tell you. You know, I first of all, I can’t give you any medicine, but I am not here to diagnose anxiety, depression. Now, during that time that you have seen your doctor and may be in a level playing field, but you now can think clearly, and you say to yourself, you know, I’m really disappointed that God didn’t meet me here or meet me there. I tried to find him in the Bible. We can sit and have those conversations. We do have the Word of God. We do have the Holy Spirit. We do have spiritual practices that we can use that would bring a person out of the dark into the light.

Chealsia: [00:17:00] Is there any spiritual practice that you’re currently walking through?

Dr. Janet Hinds: [00:17:03] Oh yeah, I am, and I always use Lectio Divina. Once I found out that spiritual practice, I also recognize that what came with Lectio was reading the Word for knowledge versus reading for transformation. And so I grew up reading it for knowledge. I knew this scripture was about this was about this and was about this. But as I embrace contemplative practice and transformation, which is what we’re doing here, being transformed in the image and likeness of Christ that I now read for transformation, where you’re reading it for the first time, all right? And then you’re thinking about it, and then you may read it out loud to yourself the second time.

Chealsia: [00:17:53] Right.

Dr. Janet Hinds: [00:17:53] And then there will be some words that will kind of light themselves up. You know, I read Mark 10 once, and that was about the rich young ruler that came to Jesus in the night and wanted to know what he had to do to be saved. And Jesus, knowing, of course, who he is, said to him, go home, sell all that you have. Come and follow me. And the scripture tells you that he walked away. But the Scripture also tells you that not only did he know him, but the word says Jesus looked at him and loved him, even though he made the wrong decisions. He loved him, right? So he loves us no matter what, but he wants to touch our hearts as well. That changed my life. I still it’s like. It’s like as soon as I think about it, I remember the moment that in my heart transformed me to understand that Jesus loves me even when I make the wrong decision.

Chealsia: [00:19:04] I want to take a moment to just say, Janet, thank you so much for being here today with me, and thank you for sharing vulnerably about the ways that spiritual direction and spiritual practices, like how God has used that to show you his goodness. I just so appreciate your vulnerability with us and know that that’s something that has been just invaluable to me in our times together, that it’s not just me sharing and you asking questions, but that you also share. And I get to see how God has been faithful to you. And so it’s just been really encouraging to me, and I know that it is encouraging to our audiences as well.

Dr. Janet Hinds: [00:19:45] You’re so welcome, and thank you for having me here.

Chealsia: [00:19:48] Yeah. Is there anything that you think we might have missed or that you would want to leave our audience with when they’re thinking about spiritual direction?

Dr. Janet Hinds: [00:19:57] Well, when I found out that I needed a spiritual director, I thought about my personal life. And did I really want to share that deep part of my life with someone that I was just getting to know? Who I liked but I was just getting to know. And I really prayed about it, and I really, I received a release from God that it was okay to do that. And so, yeah, if you need someone to walk with you. Short period of time. Long period of time. Once every six months. Whatever it is, bring it. Trust. 

Chealsia: [00:20:42] For me, having a mentor to walk alongside me in the difficult and lonely places of transition and ambiguity has been such a blessing over the last nine months. So, I want to invite you into this process with me. Are you in a place in your life and faith walk where it would be beneficial to seek a spiritual director? Our team is in the process of developing resource to help you further think through that question and to find a spiritual director in your area. So, if you haven’t already, follow us on Instagram @_createdfor or subscribe to our newsletter at to stay in the loop and receive access to resources that will help you to be formed by Jesus and walk in wholeness with us. Thank you for listening.

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