Walking with Sacred Companions

We were never intended to make the life pilgrimage alone. And attempting to make the spiritual journey on our own is particularly hazardous.

Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship & Direction (David G. Benner)

In this blog series, I am launching an attack on the common idea that Christian leaders are somehow expected to go it alone. A false hierarchy has emerged, partly due to a bogus clergy-laity divide. It places ‘ordained ministers’ in a separate category of constant helper possessing special powers, the one with all the answers, and not the fellow traveller on the same spiritual journey that every pilgrim of Christ undertakes. The resulting pressure is too much to bear and one that God never intended. Loneliness, isolation, depression and burnout are never far away.

One significant corrective for Pastors and leaders (and indeed every follower of Christ) is to have what David Brenner calls ‘sacred companions’. We all need one or more companions with whom we share regularly in a spirit of mutual openness and trust. God is at the centre and the sole motive is to help each other become everything that he intends us to be.

One of the hallmarks of the Spirit’s presence in our personal and communal life is submission. Not submission to some institutional or hierarchical structure. But submission to one another in the fear of Christ. The awesome longing to be like him, and the total lack of resources in ourselves to make it happen. This is why we need each other. Sacred companions connect at a level of depth with no judgment but in total confidence in the Spirit’s power to bring mutual transformation. 

But first, we must clear the way. Obstacles include fear, suspicion and self-protection. These things are real. Many church leaders close up when invited to be vulnerable. Who can you trust? I know many Christian ministers who fear losing their status or their job if they were ever to open up about their inner struggles. There are many spiritual policemen ready to prosecute a weakness or a failing. But we have few fellow soldiers who are prepared to stand with us shoulder to shoulder in the trenches to help us fight our battles.


If you are making significant progress on the transformational journey of Christian spirituality, you have one or  more friendships that support that journey. If you do not, you are not. It is that simple.

Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship & Direction (David G. Benner)


Despite the intense need, the reality of connected spiritual relationship runs counter to the culture of much contemporary church life. Superficiality, from the pulpit to the pew, has led to pretend community rather than the Spirit-led, cross-forged and Father-facing common unity of connected relationships. Surface-to-surface communication must be replaced by in-depth, heart-to-heart focus on genuine spiritual companionship. It must begin with the church leadership who set the tone and establish the pattern of true Christian fellowship. 


Colin is always on the move, so keep up to date, interact with him and pray for him.