The Pastor as Spiritual Guide

by Howard Rice. Upper Room Books, 1998.

As congregations are increasingly compelled to revise their understandings of pastoral leadership, author Howard Rice believes that “spiritual guidance” is increasingly becoming the pastor's central task. A metaphor for ministry, “spiritual guidance” offers a unique focus and organizing principle. The image of the pastor as spiritual guide can reform how a congregation views itself—revitalizing worship, learning, pastoral care, social change, and administration. Through spiritual guidance, pastors assist persons who seek meaning in their lives and a vital relationship with God. Unlike the professional therapist, the pastor ministers to the soul and provides assurance of forgiveness and hope, so that people may discover what they need as a gift from God. Since spiritual guidance is the most important ministerial discipline, the task of spiritual self-care is crucial; every pastor would benefit from being in spiritual direction. This study of spiritual guidance as the central authority for ministry and church renewal offers pastors and those who train and support them a way to revision the office and the congregation.