Courage’s Role in Discernment    By Vinita Hampton Wright


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.



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