This is my final blog about discernment. One of the things that all Christians and pastors have to do from time to time is help someone else discern. Most of the time, all they want is our advice. But our goal needs to be to have them wrestle with God and discern God’s will. So, here are 5 tips for helping another person with their discernment:
1. Ask a lot of questions.– When people ask for help with discernment what they sometimes want is advice so that they don’t have to discern. The best way to help them is to ask a lot of questions. Ask detail questions. Ask about feelings. Ask about what their prayer time is life. Ask for options. Remember this great phrase: “Tell me more.” When you ask people to tell you more you invite more conversation. It may feel sometimes like you are muddying waters
2. Give advice sparingly if at all.– The temptation is to give advice. I suggest not doing that unless it is clearly warranted. What you want is the person to seek God’s will and God’s opinion. Keep pointing the person to God’s voice and not yours.
3. Pray with them and for them.– Praying with and for them has many benefits. First, it can be a comfort. Second, it can lead to answers. But most importantly, it helps reinforce for the person the spiritual nature of discernment. We are not just here to talk and analyze, we are here because we are seeking God’s will. Praying makes this statement.
4. Connect to larger issues of trusting God and loving others.– Most of the time when people have trouble discerning there is a larger problem. Often they either have trouble trusting God or they are thinking very selfishly. One of the best thing you can do for someone in discernment is to take the conversation to these two issues. Ask them if they are having trouble trusting God. Ask them about how their options might impact other people.
5. Follow up with them over time.– When you talk to someone in discernment you are only getting their thought and feelings at a particular moment. These can change over time and can even swing quickly in a short period of time. Check their discernment pulse every once and a while to se where they are, what they are thinking, and if they are still pursuing God’s will.