To discern is to scrutinize a situation requiring that you observe and perceive what is going on in order to gain an understanding. Discernment is used in distinguishing between right and wrong but also in discriminating between good, better, and best. You detect what works and what doesn’t, making a judgment. In essence, to discern you must make an assessment of the situation that should ultimately lead to making wise choices.
Sometimes we Christians don’t like the word “assessment” for the church as though it is a worldly idea. To be sure, if we aren’t careful our objectives and means of assessing can take on a worldly slant but assessment is God’s idea. He did it when He created the world. Read through Genesis 1 and you will find God stepping back at different stages to look over what He has made. – “And God saw that it was good.”
God continues to keep tabs on His creation, particularly the people He created. Notice the words I’ve capitalized below in Psalm 139:1-3.
O LORD, you have SEARCHED me and you KNOW me. You KNOW when I sit and when I rise; you PERCEIVE my thoughts from afar. You DISCERN my going out and my lying down; you are FAMILIAR WITH all my ways.
God doesn’t merely observe us dispassionately from a distance. He becomes thoroughly acquainted with us and what we are doing. He scrutizes us because He cares about us, His crowning jewel of creation. Psalm 139 goes on to communicate how precious His thoughts are toward us.
Clearly, God is our role model for learning to be more discerning. From Him we learn some do’s and don’ts about the discernment process:
- Do so because you care. Don’t take what you do lightly.
- Do a thorough assessment. Don’t miss something important that should be taken into consideration.
- Do a regular check on things. Don’t take a hands-off approach.
Read more: Church Leadership Skills: Assessment