Personal Spiritual Formation is a class that teaches ministers- and theologians-in-training how to address their own spirituality so that they are able to address the spiritualities of others. Like every Bible, ministry, and ICS major at Nyack College, I am required to take Personal Spiritual Formation. Being that it’s my last semester and I haven’t filled that requirement yet, I’m taking the class this semester. I heard mixed reviews about PSF; some said it was the most enlightening class they had ever taken, but others said that it was silly and pointless. To be honest, I had been dreading PSF ever since I first heard about it. I thought that it would be a group therapy session where we would be graded on how much we cried. After going to the first class session I realized that I was completely wrong about PSF. For those Bible, ministry, or ICS majors who are not looking forward to this class, let me explain what to expect from Personal Spiritual Formation.
Each class session consists of two halves: the lecture and the small groups. The lecture addresses subtopics of Spiritual Formation, gives biblical perspective on the issues addressed, and provides techniques to help solve these issues. For the first week the lecture was conducted by Ron and Wanda Walborn, the primary instructors for the class. The subjects that they addressed were the role of God and the individual in Personal Spiritual Formation and the requirement of honesty in the process of Spiritual Formation. I was surprised at how much content and educational material there is at the base of this class. Clearly it is much more a group therapy session. Though I disagree with a few assertions made by the professors, their class notes were well put together, well thought out, and based on Scripture. I appreciated the amount of scholastic effort put into creating the lectures.
As explained by the leader of my small group, the small group portion of the class is meant to take what we learned about in the lecture and unpack it on a personal level. Normally I am very selective about the people with whom I share my personal issues, but I decided on the way to my first small group session that I would be open and transparent in order to make the most out of the class. I was afraid that I would be expected to share my innermost thoughts on the first day, but my spiritual director explained that we would simply get to know the members of our group and establish trust before delving into the “heavy stuff.” Needless to say, I was very appreciative of this. From what I could tell, the spiritual directors are trained to be tactful and attentive during small group.
If I had known the truth about what to expect from PSF, I would have looked forward to enrolling in the class. It is a great opportunity to develop the ability to address those things from your past that will negatively affect your life, relationships, and ministry. It also equips you to face future problems with firm faith and a sound mind. Now that I know what a great experience it will be, I am actually excited about taking Personal Spiritual Formation this semester.