Last updated: January 22, 2024
20 years ago, Beth Knight was living in Alaska, working in the business world and offering spiritual direction on the side. She knew the Lord had something more for her. So she began a secular degree in counseling. Yet she realized that a counseling degree didn’t exactly align with where her heart was. “That just wasn’t quite the match that I felt the Holy Spirit was up to,” says Beth. So she started an online seminary degree and, while working toward it, moved to Florida.
Beth’s vocational path really began to take shape when she attended a graduation at Asbury Seminary in Orlando, Florida. She took a brochure, and something stirred in her as she read it. Beth really wanted to do an in-person degree rather than the online degree she was working on at another school. But she didn’t know how she would do it. “I just took the brochure and started praying,” she says.
At the same time, she was studying a book called “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan. “‘Crazy Love’ just lit a fire in me. Like, my heart wasn’t just strangely warmed; my heart was lit on fire by that book. And I knew that God wanted me to move forward in some really brave ways.”
Between a Priest and a Therapist
Beth, remembering the brochure, looked into Asbury Seminary and enrolled in the M.A. in Pastoral Counseling on the Florida campus. “I loved going to the brick and mortar location,” says Beth. She considers her time at Asbury Seminary as one of the highlights of her life. “Everything there was just so loving, affirming, and of course challenging, you know, educationally and theologically.” She learned a lot from her professors and made many good friends for a lifetime.
Beth is now both a certified spiritual director and a pastoral counselor. In her view, pastoral counseling goes beyond spiritual direction; it requires sitting with people in the hardest places. While spiritual direction can be lifelong and broad – involving guidance for prayer, surrendering, getting off “autopilot” and going deeper – pastoral counseling is more time-limited and focused on a particular situation. “Pastoral counseling is more like solving problems under the umbrella of your faith,” says Beth.
One of her friends calls a pastoral counselor “a crossover between a priest and a therapist.” Beth enjoys the freedom of this hybrid. “I can talk freely with people about Jesus, and we can look at different healing resources that come with that.”
Breakfast with Jesus
Meditations are one of Beth’s favorite healing resources, particularly the meditation “Breakfast with Jesus,” based on John 21 and created by Asbury Seminary alumna Laura Baber. “I use that with a lot of clients where you walk them through imaginative prayer, and they bring the hardest thing they’re dealing with to the beach like they’re having breakfast with Jesus,” says Beth. She also guides couples in this meditation.
Beth offers spiritual services one-on-one and in group retreats. Her guided meditations sometimes overlap with hands-on projects such as making collages, praying with prayer beads, and walking through labyrinths. In the labyrinths, her clients are guided to imagine that Jesus was walking with them on their way in. Then, as they walk back out, they are guided to lean into the holy – to remember God and not run their own lives.
Beth’s pastoral counseling offerings include healing for relationship challenges, self-esteem, anxiety and stress, and family of origin. Yet her most treasured topics in the pastoral counseling setting are grief, forgiveness, and mindful aging.
God Isn’t Finished With Me Yet
Forgiveness is one of Beth’s favorite topics for redemption and healing. “You can’t escape being human and having something come up periodically where you have to process forgiveness. And sometimes it’s forgiving yourself,” says Beth. Grief is another important topic for Beth, who says she has seen more grief than ever before since the covid-19 pandemic. She is now working on a grief certification.
Beth draws from a Conscious Aging curriculum she once trained in and combines it with The Twelve Steps and the book “God Isn’t Finished With Me Yet” by Barbara Lee, which uses the Ignatian exercises. Through what she calls “Mindful Aging,” Beth helps people – most often in the second half of life – to honor their bodies and their callings in a new decade. This means addressing “all the things that come up with aging – self-esteem, grief, and loss of friends and family and identity,” she says. She helps her clients allow the Holy Spirit to be present in a new or different way so they can continue to live with hope, clarity, and peace of mind.
Pastoral Counseling at a Psychology Office
According to Beth, God has continued to open the way for her since He led her to Asbury Seminary. “There’ve been these miracles that just kept happening,” she says. One of these was an invitation to practice pastoral counseling at a psychologist’s office. She was invited by a doctor of psychology at her church to intern at his office while she was still in seminary. After graduating, she became one of their associates. The therapists there refer any clients with strong spiritual needs to Beth, who goes to the office one day per week. “Often pastoral counselors are found either at seminaries or they’re found in churches, or someone offers it wherever they’re doing their ministry. But to be invited to come on board at a psychology office – even the professors at Asbury said they had never heard of that.”
Beth also meets with clients at an Episcopal church, where she was invited a couple of years ago to come and offer pastoral counseling or spiritual direction.
When Beth is not meeting with clients at the psychology office or the Episcopal church, she meets with them online, a service that has grown by word of mouth. Because pastoral counseling and spiritual direction in Florida are not regulated by licensure, Beth can have clients around the U.S. and even the world. Through referrals, she has met with missionaries in Finland and Moldova over Zoom.
Whatever They Need to Bring
In addition to being a certified spiritual director and a pastoral counselor, Beth is also a trained chaplain and a commissioned ecumenical minister. She describes herself as open-minded, well-rounded, and non-judgemental, “a safe person, where it doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you’re on” when you talk to her.
Beth is committed to ecumenical ministry. She fell in love with Wesleyan theology while at Asbury Seminary and describes it as the core of who she is. Yet in periods of life when she was growing, evolving and seeking, she attended churches that gave her an understanding of other ways of thinking theologically as well. Beth perceives what we all share in common. “We didn’t have all these labels when Jesus walked the earth – not as many as we have today,” she says. “There are these basic human needs and these basic human challenges that come up. People know, when they meet me or hear about me, that I’m not narrow and that they can bring whatever they need to bring. And I feel like Jesus was like that.”
Working with clients from all theological backgrounds and watching the Holy Spirit show up is very meaningful for Beth. “And sometimes, when that is really palpable, I’ll just feel tears well up inside, or after a client leaves I’ll just sit there for a moment and think, ‘This is what I was called to do.’”
In addition to meeting with clients, Beth is an adjunct teacher at a spiritual direction training program in Pennsylvania, and she supervises other spiritual directors. For self-care, she spends time with family, including her three grandchildren, stays active in a contemplative women’s group, meets with her husband in a Methodist life group for married couples, and connects with her own spiritual director and a supervisor monthly.
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