Encouragement From The Word

Discernment: it’s for everybody!

This week, I have been participating as a counsellor at a discernment event for potential ministry candidates within my denomination.  It truly is a privilege to get to know these people and to hear their stories of God’s call on their lives.

In my tradition, The Presbyterian Church in Canada, we require that people seeking to be ordained to the ministry of Word and Sacraments not only attend seminary and learn their intended craft, but that they spend time figuring out what their sense of call really means.  What saddens me is that in most branches of the church, we limit this discernment process to future pastors.

What if all of us were to engage in discerning God’s call on our lives?  After all, at least among Protestants, our theology is pretty clear:  God doesn’t just call clergy, he calls every believer to his service.  But do we all stop to ponder what it is that God is calling us to do?

Often, we let others – or the church’s needs – dictate what we do in the service of the Lord.  We give in to the “warm body” syndrome, taking positions of service or leadership in areas where the need is made known.  But does this always align with how God has equipped us to serve him?  I encourage everyone to take an inventory of their spiritual gifts.  (I offer seminars on this for those interested.)  Take a look at Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12-14, Ephesians 4, and 1 Peter 4 to get a sense of what the Bible says about the array of spiritual gifts that God gives to believers.

The Lord wants us to serve the way he wired us up to serve.  Yet too often, we don’t take the time to consider what that may look like – we just barge in where the need arises.  Frankly, sometimes we need that ‘barging in’ approach, but it’s always best if we examine how we are equipped by God to serve before we volunteer.

Discernment can be challenging, because it often requires that we say ‘no’ to something good, in order to say ‘yes’ to something better.  And God always desires us to say ‘yes’ to the better thing that he sets before us.

How are you serving the Lord?  Is it energizing or draining?  If it’s draining, consider discerning your gifts and praying over your service to God.  If it’s energizing, congratulations.  Continue doing what God has planned for you!

Then I heard the Lord asking, ‘Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?’  I said, ‘Here I am. Send me’” (Isaiah 6.8, NLT).

2 thoughts on “Discernment: it’s for everybody!”

  1. There is a difference between using discernment in a group process and having the spiritual gift of discernment I have it and often wish I didn’t.

  2. Too true, Ray. The spiritual gift of discernment of spirits is sometimes a scary gift, and we need to use it with great care and humility. There have been many times it has served me well, including at this past Guidance Conference. Continue to enjoy your trip!

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