Spiritual Guides, Directors & Mentors: What’s the difference?

What’s the Difference between Spiritual Guides, Spiritual Directors, and Spiritual Mentors?


Good question! Depending upon the source of training of the spiritual director, there are different types or titleds of those who offer spiritual direction. For instance, a number of movements in the Church offer training for lay people so that they can provide spiritual direction. These organizations often make a distinction between ordained (men) or spiritual guidesconsecrated (men and/or women), referring to them as “Spiritual Directors,” and laypersons who might be called “Spiritual Guides” or “Spiritual Mentors.” The distinction is usually a reflection of the level of training and education possessed by the one providing the guidance. When these distinctions are made, it is likely that those with the title “Spiritual Director” have received a level of formation that is higher than those who might be called “Spiritual Mentors” or “Spritual Guides.”

It is important not to get caught up in the specific titles. Nor would it be appropriate to assume that someone with a lower level of formation would be less equipped to help you with your spiritual life. Spending time with another soul that is aggressively pursuing Christ and has some experience that exceeds yours can be very beneficial. The goal is to understand and pursue Christ in the process regardless of the specific titles that may or may not be applied to the individuals available to help you do so.

P.S. This post is an excerpt from Dan’s book on spiritual direction and spiritual growth. His book “Navigating the Interior Life – Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God” is available by clicking here. If you would like to have Dan Burke speak at your parish or Catholic group, please send an email to inquiries@myavila.com


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Art for this post on spiritual guides, directors, and mentors and the differences between them: Christ and Saint Mina [or Menas], iconographer unknown, 6th-century icon from Bawit, Egypt, PD-US author’s life plus 70 years or less, Wikimedia Commons.

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