Discernment is understanding the deeper reasons why things happen. It’s all about getting to the heart of the matter, the root cause. The opposite of practicing discernment would be shooting from the hip, being hasty or making a snap judgment, and we don’t want to do that.
Why is discernment important? If you think about it, discernment is important in every area of life. Parents use discernment to determine what forces are at work in their children’s lives. Law enforcement uses discernment in making decisions on a daily basis. And governmental leaders use discernment in making decisions and recommendations. I’m reminded of how the nation of Israel was blessed under the wise leadership of King Solomon.
So how do we practice good discernment? The first step is to get the facts. My father was influenced by a businessman in Oklahoma City named Gene Warr, who mentored a lot of people. He would always say when making a decision, “Get the facts!” So get the facts. Don’t make a decision based on emotion, on just what you want to do, or how you feel. Get the facts.
The second thing is to recognize your own bias. We all have a bias, and the key is to recognize it and not to let it to affect the decision.
The third thing and maybe the most important is to listen, and not just listen, but to listen WELL. Especially if it is a relational issue, there may be charged emotions that can distract from the real issue. Listening well will help us determine what is really at the heart of someone’s concern. If it is an investigation, then we have to pay close attention to the evidence.
Once we have done all of these things then we are better able to make a conscientious decision.
The good news is we can all grow in Discernment. Hebrews 5:14 talks about having “their senses trained to discern good and evil.” Discernment is something that we can grow and train ourselves in. I’ve heard it said, “Often experience comes just after you need it, but if remembered it can help you in the future.”
Get the facts, recognize and overcome our own bias, listen well, and grow in discernment.