The Christian Way to Make a Decision (Discerning God’s Will)

Highland is in the middle of an elder-selection process. As we approach elder-candidates, I prepared a handout to help them better discern whether God is calling them to join our eldership or not. These points and exercises come from St. Ignatius and Ignatian spirituality, which majors on helping people discern God’s will in decision making. I’ve cleared the document of “elder” language so that it’s more general and could be used for any decision you’re currently facing.

A Little Handout on Discerning God’s Calling (Compiled by Chris Altrock)

  1. As you consider this invitation, strive for the spiritual state of “indifference” – “not what I will but what you will” (Matt. 26:36-44).
  2. Creation: How would you answer this sentence? “Some ways in which God has uniquely created me and equipped me for service in his kingdom are _____________________.” How might that creation and equipping inform the decision you’re trying to make right now? That is, which decision seems to best fit your creation/equipping/talents/purpose/design?
  3. Community:
    1. Imagine saying “no” to this decision and then sharing your decision with two of your most trusted spiritual companions. How would they react? What would they say?
    2. Imagine saying “yes” to this decision and then sharing your decision with two of your most trusted spiritual companions. How would they react? What would they say?
  4. Calling:
    1. Pray-Dreaming.
      1. Imagine saying “no” to this decision. Picture what your life would be over the next few days, weeks and months. Imagine how you would feel, what you would do, etc. Consider even spending a whole day as if you had said “no.”
      2. Now imagine saying “yes” to this decision. Picture what your life would be over the next few days, weeks and months. Imagine how you would feel, what you would do, etc. Consider spending a whole day as if you had said “yes.”
      3. Which imagining—no or yes—led to a greater sense of peace with God, a greater sense of hope, a greater sense of alignment with his purposes, a greater sense of passion for his kingdom, etc.?
    2. End of Life:
      1. Imagine yourself as a very old person reflecting on the course of your life. Imagine you said “no” to this decision. How would you feel about that at the end of your life? Would you feel glad or sad?
      2. Imagine you said “yes” to this decision. How would you feel about that at the end of your life? Would you feel glad or sad?
      3. Which imagining—no or yes—led to a greater sense of peace with God, a greater sense of hope, a greater sense of alignment with his purposes, a greater sense of passion for his kingdom, etc.?

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