Thursday, April 2, 2009

Seriously? Discernment?

A few weeks ago, I spent a weekend on a retreat that was dedicated entirely to Spiritual Gifts. I have taken Spiritual Gift inventories before, but this was a new format for me. Also, it has been several years since I last did one, so I was curious to see what, if anything, might have changed. The last four years of my life have been spent in a very unexpected place for me, spiritually, and I had not been using my gifts (or so I thought) for some time.

Upon taking the test, the same gifts - yes - did manage to work their way to the top of the list. Not to toot my own horn, by any means, but discernment is one of my highest gift results. It so happens that I don't like this gift at all....not really, anyway. One time, years ago, before I really knew or understood this gift, I was praying for an unnamed youth at my church who had tried to commit suicide. For no reason, with no hints from others, this child's name came to mind while I was praying. I thought it was my imagination, continued to pray and found out later that the name that came to mind was in fact the person who I was praying for. I didn't tell anyone except my best friend at the time. I thought I was nuts.

Years later, as this gift developed, I found that I could sense the difference between lies and truth. Some stuff came up in my church leadership; I realized- or discerned- these things and knew that I really did not want to know. Unfortunately, the things I "had a hunch" about proved to be true. Whoa is me. I know now that I did not handle that situation in the way that God would have liked. This particular lesson was a very difficult one, a painful one, and cost me a few friendships along the way. God showed me how He desires these things to be handled, but I also found out that there are some people (even in the church) who do not want to know the truth when it is not "good". I was told by one fellow church member to put on rose color glasses and only speak positive. This comment was made when I went to the financial leadership regarding misuse of funds, dishonest mileage reimbursement and outright lies that had been told (by the pastor) to the two teams who were to approving the expenses. Whew. It was heavy stuff.

Time moved on and so did my family. I avoided any situation where I thought I would have to put discernment to use. It was my hope that God might see fit to take this gift away. Although it did seem to go "dull" for a time, I have noticed that opportunities have presented again. Not in ways that are so controversial, but situations that provide opportunity for me to speak truth to a situation.

And then my recent inventory results. There it is - discernment. Right there at the top.

The description of Discernment is: the divine enablement to distinguish between truth and error. It is able to discern the spirits, differentiating between good and evil, right and wrong.

Traits: Perceptive, Insightful, Sensitive, Intuitive, Decisive, Challenging, and Truthful.

  • May struggle with how to express their perceptions, feelings, or insights.
  • Could be harsh when confronting others, instead of speaking the truth in love. (here is where I have lost friends.)
  • Need to confirm their perceptions before speaking
God has shown me that the main reason for this gift is so that I can intercede. I don't need to spend my time trying to get others "right" with God like I thought in the past. That makes me nothing but a hypocrite. My business is to be about worshiping my God and walk closely enough that God is able to convey His mind to me over those who He puts in my life for intercession. My discernment is not for the purpose of judgment, ridicule or criticism, but to lift whatever that situation is up to God in prayer.

So, as I move ahead in my relationship with God and move ahead in how He has gifted me, I pray for sensitivity and wisdom in the use of this scary gift. I have fallen trap to the cautions and have been afraid. Even when God has given me the timing and the words, sometimes the truth is not what others want to hear. I must remember that the rejection is not personal and I must choose to be speaking when God directs and in interceding in the behalf of others.

This spiritual gift stuff is serious business. God means for us to use these things to honor Him.
I have to say, I was a little disappointed that this gift is still hanging around. But, okay...I choose to go with it.

In His perfect love,


Letters From Midlife said...

Discernment is also my strongest spiritual gift. It's a mixed blessing at times because sometimes people perceive it as me being overly sensitive. My other "gift" is teaching which surprised me because I really don't like to get up in front of others and teach, but then the moderator of a spiritual gifts class I took told me that being a writer is a form of teaching so that's when it clicked for me.

Carol said...

Interesting Liz. I took the spiritual gift assement, and discernment was high on my list too. I've put the test in a book and never pulled it out again.

I keep hearing this topic of gifts and using them. Maybe God is trying to reach my thick skull.

I wanted to thank you for your comment on Brinn's adoption post. It's been a blessing to me. I read it to Brinn and she liked knowing that she wasn't the only one :). We do stay in touch with her other Grandma's and Aunts and Uncles. It's her biofather he doesn't keep in touch with anyone. It's a very sad situation.

Much love, and thanks for the push on looking at that list again.


Sue said...

Hi Liz,
I am trying to catch up on my blogging. I found this post interesting. I am transferring my membership to a different church, and there is going to be a class on spiritual gifts they want us to go to this summer. I haven't done one of those for awhile, either.

I can usually pick up on whether something is in the Bible or not, and if someone is changing parts of a passage or story. I can't remember how high my discernment score was. I'm not decisive, though. It's good God has shown you how he wants you to use that gift.

Happy Easter!