The Christian Century looks at the growing popularity of spiritual direction among mainline Protestants, especially pastors:
More and more pastors have made spiritual direction a central part of their ministries. The spirituality shaped by spiritual direction might be of special importance to pastors, Reed observes, because the demands of ministry are such that pastors often function out of a “false self.” They may put on masks to hide their true struggles and opinions rather than risk displeasing those they serve. For many pastors, that false self becomes habitual, and they lack a safe place in which to take off the mask.
Spiritual direction offers a way to attend to God’s presence in one’s life in the context of a trusted relationship. Spiritual direction “is not about what we do, but about who we are,” says Reed. “It helps us see how we’ve been operating falsely and begins to move us to the center.”
To unmasked ourselves is to expose the way our wrong way of proceeding works and also the way the good works in us. I agree completely with the article that a third part is needed.
I don’t know the situation in the USA. But I can tell how it is in Germany. And here it is not only a problem of protestant pastors that many of them put on a mask and function out of a “false self”(as you write in your article). The same problem exists among priests in the Catholic Chrurch. And it it is a big problem. There are too many who get ill, who have psychological problems, who depend on alcohol … because the demand of the ministry (or said better: their own or other false demands) overwhelms them. What I write is not just a feeling. I worked myself for several years as a pastor in the protestant church. And since I am in the catholic church I have worked closed enough with several priest to see the problems they have, too. And I think what will help is not only a safe place where you are able to take off the mask, to be yourself for that moment … what helps is when you get the chance to deepen your faith in God, when you really make the experience that He loves you as you are … then you are mor and more becoming yourself … it is not possible from one moment to the other … it is a process … but it happens: I learned a lot, I felt it during several experiences in exercises and spiritual company (and it were always Jesuits who accompanied me and “teached” me to become a more spirtual person and more and more open-hearted for God who is love)
Excuse the faults in my comment, especially “teached” instead of taught 🙂