In an earlier post I talked about the difference between decision making by analysis and decision making by discernment. I believe that Christians are called to discern God’s will rather than analyze our choices to make the most logical or beneficial one. As I continue this series of posts, I want to share 5 common misconceptions that people have about discernment.
Misconception #1 Discernment should be obvious. Most people believe that when God shows us His will that He will make it really obvious. That is simply not true. One time, as I was looking at seminaries and got a scholarship in the mail. It was like God was saying, “Jordan, here is $30,000. Is there any doubt anymore?” That was really the only time God’s will was so obvious. Every other time that I have had to discern God’s will it has been a slow and messy process. Perhaps God does that so that we can rely on Him instead of on ourselves.
Misconception #2 Discernment should be logical. We like things to add up and make sense. God does not care about that. In fact, God has a tendency to not make sense on purpose. He picks younger brothers, small armies, and broken people. He gives His work to fisherman. God likes the underdog and the illogical because there can be no doubt who the source is. Discernment is not very logical. God asks us to do crazy things sometimes.
Misconception #3 Discernment should feel right. People that I talk to about discerning God’s will almost always want a certain feeling to go with the discernment. They want a sense of peace, contentment, or joy when the right decision is made. That feeling is never promised us in scripture and rarely if ever happens. From the Bible it might be more accurate to expect that discerning God’s will should be accompanied by a certain amount of freaking out.
Misconception #4 Discernment should be an open door. Most people believe that when God has a door He wants you to walk through He will swing that door wide open. If there are multiple paths to choose from then people expect the open one to be God’s will. Christians will sit passively and wait for God to open that door. My experience, however, is that there are often many choices and options available in a time of discernment. My theology of discernment is one of closed doors. I am going to knock on any door and travel down any path and expect God to close the wrong ones.
Misconception #5 Other people should agree with what I see. We do not like to feel alone, weird, or outside of the norm, so it makes sense that we want others to verify our discernment. The challenge is that this affirmation is not always promised us. Job’s friends tell him to curse God. Jesus’ friends tell Him not to die. Sometimes God’s will does not make sense to other people.
Be the kind of Christian that will boldly follow wherever God leads you.