I have been blogging about discernment recently. For this post, I though I would reflect specifically on discernment in groups. It is challenging enough to discern God’s will, but a lot of times we have to discern in a marriage, as a team, or as a church. Here are 5 ideas for discerning God’s will is groups.
1. The goal is to figure out God’s will- Often group discernment makes the process of discernment very unspiritual. It is easy to break decisions into choices or options. Think about how easily a decision becomes about “my way” versus “your way.” Even the way we vote in groups betrays this: “All those in favor signify by saying ‘aye.'” When we vote we are saying publicly that our goal is to vote our opinion. The goal of discernment is to find God’s will. Graham Standish at Calvin Church in Zelienople has changed his vote to the following: “All those who sense this may be God’s will please signify by saying ‘aye.'” This is much truer to the goal of discernment.
2. The Holy Spirit can speak through anyone and anything- The key to discernment in groups is learning to listen to one another. Since the Holy Spirit is within all of us, God can choose to speak through any one of us. Debate limits true listening. We need to be willing to hear what God is saying to the group.
3. Do not rush the decisions- Hurry is the opponent of good discernment, but this is especially important in groups. When we feel the need to rush decisions, we tense up. This limits listening and puts pressure on the decision. Sometimes our own tension can increase the tensions in others.
4. Make all decisions reversible- It is important that there not be too much pressure to make decisions final. This is what Graham Standish’s above vote call does so well. It says that this “may” be God’s will. That means that we believe it may be God’s will but it might not be. Sometimes decisive decision making is necessary, but sometimes groups like churches or families need to have the freedom to change their mind in order to be free to discern God’s will.
5. Be open to other options- We like to try to make decisions about choice– do you want option A or option B? We all understand that having a 3rd or 4th option makes the decision harder. But a 3rd alternative is sometimes the best choice and sometimes God’s perfect will. Sometimes there is an answer that solves the concerns of option A and option B. We cannot narrow our view to a small number of options but should widen our gaze to whatever and wherever God is leading.