An Approach to Good Choices

The Ignatian approach to good choices rests on several presuppositions. First it assumes that the alternatives being considered are all positive, constructive, and morally correct. The person making the decision is someone who is spiritually maturing and who wants to make the choice that will lead to a deeper relationship with God. 

The Ignatian approach to good choices emphasizes freedom. Making a free decision means that we set aside our own preferences and preconceptions and strive to be free of social pressures and psychological strains. We carefully examine our motives and desires. This isn’t easy. Much of the prayer and reflection in Ignatian decision making has to do with achieving the detachment necessary to choose freely.

The Ignatian approach requires work. It asks that we make every reasonable effort to find God’s will. This involves a sincere commitment to pray and to achieve self-knowledge. We need to gather all the relevant information about our alternatives and carefully weigh all the circumstances and likely outcomes. Decision making in the Ignatian mode involves both the heart and the mind.

Key Ideas in Ignatian Decision Making

Three Circumstances for Making a Decision
Ignatius thought that decisions were made in three circumstances.

How Ignatian Spirituality Gives Us a Way to Discern God’s Will
By David L. Fleming, SJ
The key concepts of the Ignatian approach: knowing what we truly desire, seeking God first, and trusting our feelings. Ignatius’ “three modes of decision-making.”

Applying the Ignatian Approach to Good Choices

An Ignatian Framework for Making a Decision
11 steps for approaching an important decision prayerfully and systematically.

A Method of Group Decision-Making
By William Byron, SJ
How leadership groups can use Ignatian principles to make better decisions.

Links to More Resources

Making Ethical Decisions
A framework for ethical decision making.
“If you had to explain your decision on television, would you be comfortable?”

How to Discern the Elements of Your Personal Vocation (PDF)
By Peter F. Ryan, SJ
“A sincere and determined effort to discern will infallibly succeed.”

Finding God in the Hard Questions (Videos)
Series of videos of a talk by Fr. Pat McGrath, SJ, on making good choices by applying the lens of Ignatian spirituality. The talk was delivered to young adults during a speaker series sponsored by Charis Ministries.