Courage’s Role in Discernment

person shows courage by leaping over mountains

When it comes to discernment, sometimes another word for faith is courage.

We ask the Holy Spirit to lead us to the best decision:

  • the choice that honors God
  • the choice that makes use of the gifts God has given us
  • the choice that does the most to further God’s kingdom on earth.

We go through various steps and processes through which discernment can take place. For instance:

  • We explore the pros and cons of each option.
  • We seek counsel from those equipped to help.
  • We notice how our emotions and bodies react when we imagine making this choice or that one.
  • We ask God for guidance through persistent prayer.

However, in going through discernment we are also saying, to God and to ourselves: “I am willing to relinquish my preferences if that is necessary to follow God’s leading.”

Relinquish my preferences?

  • What if God asks me to do something I’ve never done before?
  • What if God leads me into a period that tests my skills and my faith?
  • What if following God means moving away from my places of comfort and familiarity?
  • Or what if God leads me precisely where I want to go? And now I must embrace and own this decision and take responsibility for how I carry it out?

We discern because we know that our knowledge is limited and that divine wisdom is not. We trust that, because God loves us, divine wisdom will lead us to a place that is, ultimately, the best place. We have faith in the guide even when we don’t yet know the territory.

But just a glance at God’s people in Scripture and throughout history shows us that the best way to go often leads through difficulty, sadness, and danger. Thus, our faith during discernment must be mixed with courage. For instance, God leads you to leave a town or to leave a job. You are being drawn toward the next stage of your life’s work in God’s kingdom. You have faith in this journey, but it takes courage to let go of a home you’ve loved or a job that’s provided steady income.

The Holy Spirit shows us the path but not a preview of what we’ll encounter on the path.

So, while praying for a good discernment, ask also for a courageous heart.

Photo by Sammie Vasquez on Unsplash.

About Vinita Hampton Wright 181 Articles
Vinita Hampton Wright has served as senior editor at Loyola Press for 16 years and recently became managing editor of the trade books department. She has written various fiction and non-fiction books, including the novel Dwelling Places with HarperOne, Days of Deepening Friendship and The Art of Spiritual Writing for Loyola Press, and most recently, The St. Teresa of Avila Prayer Book for Paraclete Press. Vinita is a student and practitioner of Ignatian spirituality, and from 2009 to 2015 she blogged at Days of Deepening Friendship. For the past few years, she has co-led small groups through the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises. She lives in Chicago with her husband, three cats, and a dog. In her “spare” time these days, she is working on her next novel.

6 Comments on Courage’s Role in Discernment

  1. Vinita, you gave a great short summary of steps we use in discernment. I like this “quick reference guide.”
    It does take courage to carry out what we discern God inviting us to do.
    Best wishes!

  2. A difficulty,with discernment and gifts can be complicated by having a wife or husband who does not have the the same view of say the principle and foundation. There are many mixed marriages.

    • So true, Alex. I do believe God works with us as we are, in our real situation, and thus discernment can still happen, although the more people involved, the more complex the decision. There is always grace. Thanks for making this point.

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