In the last few weeks 7 1/2 month old Grace…
– – – shredded a roll of toilet paper, transforming the bedroom into a picture of a snowy day,
– – – unwound rolls of pet waste bags, littering the apartment with streams of plastic strips resembling snakes, and
– – – scattered various clothing pieces and shoes throughout the apartment, nibbling on tantalizing fabrics; unfortunately a few socks didn’t survive intact.
I endeavor to keep a close eye on Grace, after all she is just a puppy, but at times when unsupervised, Grace chooses her own way; creating disorder, disregarding discipline, and generating destruction. Grace needs supervision.
Likewise, when I learned to drive a car as a teenager, began teaching elementary school, painted a room in our first home, learned to preserve grapes from grape vines, tiled a kitchen backsplash, took Grace to puppy class, became a spiritual director, and so much more; I required supervision. I needed wise individuals, other than myself, to came alongside me, showing me the way and helping me learn. I continue to need supervision today to stimulate me toward godly, holy, and biblical living.
Supervision – to watch over; to observe and offer direction; to guide, monitor, and oversee.
One of the ways I serve Denver Seminary’s Spiritual Direction Certificate program is by offering supervision to enrolled students. These students represent decades of ministry experience. It is a privilege to journey alongside incredible men and women who serve as cross-cultural ministry coaches, pastoral and church staff members, ministry leaders in non-profit organizations, and individuals desiring growth to encourage the spiritual formation of those within the Church worldwide. I learn from these Christ-followers and they learn from me. I offer supervision for their development into the ministry and practice of spiritual direction.Their commitment to growth refreshes my soul. I delight in and experience life in Christ when serving the Lord in this capacity.
Similarly, each month a group of fellow spiritual directors and I gather for supervision. We meet to support and strengthen one another as we live out our vocations as spiritual directors and soul care providers. As peer supervisors, we collaborate and offer silence, prayer, discernment, correction, and encouragement to one another. Through supervision we practice, learn, and grow as ministry partners.
Supervision creates space to grow professionally, spiritually, intellectually, and relationally. Professionally, supervision might occur through an apprentice-type relationship or coach. Spiritually, supervision takes the appearance of discipleship and soul care. Supervision for the mind, the intellect, occurs in small groups, book clubs, classroom settings, webinars, and tutoring. Lastly, relational supervision takes place through accountability partners, mentors, and counseling. Although the shape and dynamics of supervision adjust to the unique circumstances involved, the aim remains similar – to observe and monitor a supervisee, while offering direction, guidance, and oversight.
What are some ways you experience supervision? Professionally? Spiritually? Relationally? and Intellectually?
When I ponder examples of supervision in the Bible, four different biblical accounts come to my mind: Elijah with Elisha, Naomi with Ruth, Priscilla & Aquila with Apollos, and Paul with Timothy. Each of these relationships offer insight into the practice of supervision.
The prophet Elijah anointed Elisha as a prophet and he immediately joined in the work with Elijah. Elijah offered supervision as he and Elisha walked together and served God as prophets (1 Kings 19-2 Kings 2). As mother in law to Ruth, Naomi supervised Ruth’s approach to Boaz, offering keen insight and direction (Ruth). Priscilla and Aquila came alongside Apollos providing a wide breadth of instruction to expand his knowledge and understanding of the Gospel (Acts 18). Paul and Timothy companioned together over 20 years and during this time Paul often supplied supervision for Timothy as a younger co-laborer in the Gospel, providing wise and practical counsel for the ministry opportunities he encountered (Acts 15, 1 & 2 Timothy).
Where else in Scripture do you notice examples of supervision? Maybe read the account and notice principles to encourage your own journey with supervision.
While many principles surface by looking into these four biblical examples of supervision, three guidelines stand out to me.
First, for supervision to occur, those involved must commit to spend time together. Unfortunately, disingenuous patterns may last for a while, but time eventually reveals whether growth and understanding authentically develop. Time allows the relationship to develop and deepen so that supervision occurs genuinely and effectively.
Secondly, when we enter into a supervisory relationship, humility and teachability become foundational. In each of the above examples, Elisha, Ruth, Apollos, and Timothy demonstrate respectful submission to a wise other individual. These God-fearing people accepted instruction with open hearts and revealed a willingness within their soul to learn and grasp new and unfamiliar ways to engage their journey.
Lastly, in order for supervision to impact the individual and the kingdom of God, the supervisee must follow-through with the insights, corrections, challenges, and encouragements of the supervisor. These individuals didn’t stop at learning what must change or what new practice to engage, they took intentional steps toward imaginative, new, and unfamiliar rhythms and ideas. Continuing in new approaches and actions promotes development and expansion.
How well do you submit to the process of supervision? Pick an area in which to grow (time, humility, follow-through) and ask God to transform you.
We all need supervision. Ultimately, God supplies the best supervision; and we also need others, a community, to support and spur maturity. Allow others to speak into your life. Be willing to receive feedback which offers the potential for growth and transformation. Thank God for the wise people in your path that co-labor with you in your formation in all of life.
Restrain from choosing your own way which creates disorder, disregards discipline, and generates destruction. Let’s live our lives embracing supervision so that we live in alignment with God’s beautiful design. We all need supervision.
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Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
Philippians 4:9 – Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Read these recommended books to fill your soul.
Maureen Conroy. Looking into the Well: Supervision of Spiritual Directors. Chicago, IL. 1995
Macrina Wiederkehr. Seasons of Your Heart. San Francisco, CA. 1991.
Sprinklings of Truth: Soak in meaningful songs. Check out these music videos to lift up your spirit.
Chris McClarney. Speak to the Mountains. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qn99VPVQDzc
Hillsong Worship. This I Believe (The Creed). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtUNQpu2b7Q