Discernment and Decision

Every day, decisions demand our attention.


The sheer amount — and resulting decision-fatigue — can result in a desire to move quickly through a decision.


However, some choices need time, discernment, and prayer.


How do we discern crucial decisions in a way that honors Jesus?



discerning with desires


St. Ignatius of Loyola gives us an imposing model for processing decisions.


Ignatius' insight to pursue a holy detachment from outcomes is a critical insight for our day. Commenting on this idea, Jim Manney writes:

"Pray for an openness to God's will, and freedom from prejudgment and addictions... This means to ask to be free enough to be influenced only by this one value: which alternative will give most glory to God and be expressive of my own deepest self, my authentic self?" - Jim Manney

Jesus exercised this holy detachment with the hard-worked for "... not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).



Discerning through the Imagination


If Ignatius' 11 step process overwhelms you, here's a shortened alternative.

  1. Pray for a holy detachment and the Spirit's leading.

  2. Prayerfully imagine saying yes to option A and no to option B.

  3. Pay attention to the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that you experience.

  4. Sit with this imagined decision for several hours (or days if possible). See if they change.

  5. Repeat the process, but this time say yes to option B and no to option A.



Discerning in Community


Grab your pastor, spiritual director, family member, or close friend.


Preferably, these companions will display a holy detachment for you, desiring that you glorify God and live into your most authentic self in Christ.


Share your discernment journey, and open yourself to their input.


Warning at this point — Truly listen.


It's too easy to make knee-jerk or emotional decisions in isolation, only to bring those pre-made decisions into the light of community.


This stage of listening to others is part of the discernment process, not a public service announcement.


Christ is with you

As you discern life's decisions, remember that Christ is with you.


He's alive. He reigns in power. He's near and desires that you glorify Him and live into your true self in Him.


And be thankful because what Christ forms in you through the discernment process is as important as the decision itself.

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