Seeking Spiritual Direction: A Conversation with Skip Cochran

By Toby Rowe |  March 5, 2015

Skip Cochran and I recently had a conversation about his training through the Southern Methodist University (SMU), Perkins School of Theology in its Spiritual Formation Program.  Skip, as many of you know, began attending St Margaret’s eight years ago and in that time has served on the Vestry for a number of years.  He has also served in other ministries within the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas, including two discernment committees for individuals exploring their call to ordained ministry.  What you may not know about him is that on at least two occasions he felt called, or as he told me, received holy invitations to deepen his relationship with God and possibly to serve in an ordained capacity.  The first time he felt the pull was when he was a young boy growing up in Houston, Texas, and the second was fairly recent.
 
Based on this, Skip reached out to St Margaret’s own Mary Vano for guidance on his call.  After considering the possibilities, he and Mary came to the conclusion that he wasn’t called to the ordained ministry, but that he was called to something.  After further exploration he came upon the idea of training and serving as a Spiritual Director for St Margaret’s and beyond.  Skip explained to me that there are a variety of programs available to any interested individuals.  He chose SMU, due to his familiarity with the Seminary located in his high school town of Dallas. SMU offered a two year program near Clinton, Arkansas at the Mount Eagle Retreat Center. 
 
So, just what does a Spiritual Director do, one may ask?  According to Skip there are three main goals for someone seeking or undertaking Spiritual Direction.  It really is a partnership seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit for all parties involved in the conversation.  The first goal is to discover what is our particular calling.  Can spiritual direction from and with another person help us to discern this invitation to serve God in a more meaningful and deeper way?  Has this guidance helped us to parse out what is true calling from what may be our wants and desires?  The second point explores what practices and disciplines work best for us.  There are a variety of ways to approach prayer in order to connect with God.  Not all are suited to one’s particular personality type, but there is most certainly one or more for everyone.   Lastly, how can spiritual direction help you to grow closer to God?  In the end that is what Spiritual Direction is: finding a way to grow closer to our creator and helping others along the same path. 
 
Skip and I talked at length about the different aspects of Spiritual Direction – too much to mention here – but one thing he said resonated.  We may be in a particular ministry, but we are not necessarily called to the same one for the rest of our lives.  We should instead ask ourselves what is God’s call today. 
 
I would encourage anyone who feels that they too are being invited into this or any other ministry to contact Skip, Mary Vano, or Diane Hobson.  Diane has been offering spiritual direction for 17 years, and is also available to those who may be interested.  You can reach Skip at 501-221-1607, or simply ask him about the program one Sunday after church. 


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