Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Discernment in Decision Making

Leadership Journal, Summer 2008

An interesting article by Ruth Haley Barton on discernment in decision making in churches and as part of spiritual leadership.

Can You Hear God Now?
Your most important leadership role: discerning and obeying God's voice. Together.
by Ruth Haley Barton

What is it that distinguishes spiritual leadership from other kinds of leadership?
At the heart of spiritual leadership is discernment—the capacity to recognize and respond to the presence and activity of God both personally and in community.

The Israelite journey is really a story of ongoing discernment—learning to recognize the presence of God and then following that Presence wherever it went. For Moses as their leader, this involved entering into God's presence regularly, asking God what he should do, and then leading the people in that way. Moses' ability to trust God and listen and respond obediently to his instructions was so crucial to the Israelites' survival that the one time he failed to follow God's instruction fully, there were grave consequences (Num. 20:10-13).

Unlike Moses, we don't get to talk with God face to face. We must listen deeply.
It is no wonder that when Moses recapped the Israelite journey, he emphasized how important discernment had been to the whole operation. He reminded the people of the time God told them to choose leaders to serve as judges under Moses and that the heart of their spiritual leadership was the ability to be wise and discerning (Deut. 1:13). Later he spoke about wisdom and discernment as defining characteristics that distinguished them from other nations.

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