The reformed tradition emphasizes the autonomy of an individual's relationship to God. Therefore, spiritual leadership, direction or guidance sounds negative at first. When individuals submit to the authority of another on their path, are they not giving the responsibility for their spiritual growth to another person? Such a concern is justified. At the same time, however, spiritual journeys are paths on which the goal of sanctification – growing into the love of God – is experienced in very individual ways, but are also risky for people. Something about this seems hazardous. We are people always bound back to the world by our personal capabilities to seek God. Since the beginning of Christian living, Christians have sought advice from others about the Christian life. Critique of authority and the necessity of leadership are thereby limited to the central question: how can spiritual leadership or guidance be lived, taught, and thought, in for instance the reformed environment? What matters is the ability and competence to describe spiritual leadership/guidance and to trust that others have these. How do teachers manifest along the path of salvation? They do so through their experiences and through their reflection about it, through their own practices and the knowledge of their failures. Such people have the gift of discretio, those who seek the path of others, not to impart their own ways. One fixed appointment is enough. Wanting the advice of another also means accepting their authority. Perhaps we could speak of it as "voluntary submission" (Corinna Dahlgrün), which does not release one from personal responsibility when two are on the journey of emersion.
Rev. Brigitte Becker