Learning Loyalty to Loyola

When I asked my future teammate almost two years ago how we could possibly function as a team, he couldn’t think of anything. He teaches at the local Christian University and didn’t see any open doors or reasonable fits with his work there. I remained puzzled over this misfit with my philosophy of ministry until we got here and I learned a secret about this man. He helps lead a new movement within our mission to teach the Church how to become more intentional in Spiritual Formation as the grounding for everything the Church is and does.

Just like with coaching, I had pretty much no clue what Spiritual Formation is, but it sounded cool. Over the first several months of our life here together, I was able to wrench out of him enough clues to start to get really interested. I’ve been spiritually mentored by several very godly men over the years, but there was always a nagging sense that there was more to it than I was seeing, even though I had no idea what that would look like. What Bill was describing was systematic (I like systems), yet organic (I like organic), and coaching driven (what are we saying?).

I started to pressure him to lead me through a three day “Discovery” retreat that was designed to help someone understand God’s history of working in you for spiritual growth and how to cooperate more fully in that process. We finally made it happen in February, but it was the right time for me in my spiritual journey.

The workshop, created by a team of people at CRM’s Imago Christi, is described as a:

“three-day (24 hour) Discovery contain[ing] 15 Modules which can be used together or separately in retreat, network, or personal coaching settings. Together, they make up a personal movement of discovering (1) the need for personal intentionality in spiritual formation, (2) one’s own longing for deeper intimacy with God, (3) where one is in the process of spiritual growth in the context of a spiritual formation paradigm, and (4) gain insights into key ways the participant can cooperate with God in ongoing realization of their longing for deeper intimacy with the Trinity. The process concludes with a spiritual formation plan which compiles one’s discoveries and insights and identifies specific next steps that can be taken to cooperate with God.”

My takeaway was more than just new insight into my own journey with God. More importantly, Bill helped me form a plan to follow to take my relationship with God to another level. What does that look like right now? I’ve begun an intensive devotional plan that was developed by Ignatius of Loyola. It’s a bumpy ride, getting used to prayer that is more focused on intimacy with God and hearing His voice. It’s something I have tried to grow in for years, having used another methodology with some success. God seems to have used that to prepare me for this next step of growth.

The key is the commitment to spend an hour a day, seven days a week, for 26 weeks in prayer and journaling. That was daunting, but I was desperate. I’ve had days where nothing seems to happen, days where I have no idea what happened, and one day so far where God blew me away with a new vision of His love, care, and leading in my life.

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