"In book 2 of the Pastoral Rule, Gregory describes the tension between action and contemplation (reminiscent of the divide between the clerical and ascetic pastoral traditions) as a healthy pastoral balance. The pontiff disqualifies those who are unable to balance the two. Essentially, the priest must commit himself to the administrative obligations of office without sacrificing contemplatio "[T]he rector should not reduce his attention to the internal life because of external occupations, nor should he relinquish his care for external matters because of his anxiety for the internal life. Otherwise, either he will ruin his meditation because he is occupied by external concerns or he will not give to his neighbors what he owes to them because he has devoted himself to the internal life." Gregory suggests a number of methods to maintain the proper equilibrium, including the reading of Scripture.
As noted, most organized ascetic communities in late antiquity imposed a spiritual father/spiritual disciple hierarchy. The spiritual father or abba identified the unique spiritual condition of each subordinate and then laid out a path of correction accordingly. Gregory anchors his Pastoral Rule in this approach. The text not only serves as a sourcebook of spiritual profiles (see book 3) but develops many of the techniques employed by the abba." pg. 135
Last night I read the above to my wife. Over the years I have written here and said to many people that in your average evangelical church there is no spiritual direction. Notice the sentence above "the spiritual father or abba identified the unique spiritual condition of each subordinate and then laid out a path of correction". In the churches we have attended over the years no one has ever sat down with us and sought to discover our present spiritual condition. The idea seems to be if one who claims to be a Christian and goes to church on Sunday and sits under the preaching of the Bible God (the Holy Spirit) will apply the Word of God to the him or her and give him or her spiritual direction. There is no need for him or her to have a personal spiritual direction/pastoral care. The ministers job is to preach the Bible and visit the sick and dying. For example my wife's minister has never sat down with her personally and asked her about your spiritual condition. My wife's minister has no personal contact with my wife. He knows nothing about her prayer life for example. My wife has a ruling elder who visits once a year with another elder for 30 minutes to see if she has anything about the church that is bothering her or prayer concerns. My wife's elder knows nothing about my wife's spiritual state ("identified the unique spiritual condition of each subordinate and then laid out a path of correction").
One of the several reasons I stopped going to church was that no one really cared about my spiritual state/no pastoral care/no spiritual direction.
I could go on and on but I have shared my thoughts on spiritual direction many times here over the years so I won't repeat myself.
"Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you" Hebrews 13:17.