Ministry Musings: What If I Get It Wrong?

We’ve completed our review of what discernment is not, and what it is—even though there is more we could have said and more we could have explored.

We’re at a place where we can ask a very important question, “What if I get it wrong?”

This question sometimes paralyzes people as they seek to know and do God’s will.  Fear of failure can shut the whole thing down.  But it shouldn’t, and it doesn’t have to.

We should look at discernment like we do everything else—namely, as living to the best of our ability and walking in our best understanding of truth.  Consider how we do this in almost every other area of life.  If we didn’t, we’d probably never get out of bed in the morning!

We err when we think that we can have a “sliding scale” of accomplishment in the rest of our lives, but must have a “perfect score” when it comes to discernment.

Instead, we must understand that finding and following God’s will inevitably brings us to moments when we realize we have failed to “get it right.”  It’s in that moment we must understand that discernment is not about complete accuracy, but rather about complete devotion.

And God is gracious with us in a missed discernment like He is gracious with us in everything else.  God allows us to make a “U-Turn” on the holiness highway, go back to the starting point, and try again.  There are almost no moments in life when a decision cannot be reversed and a new course of action chosen.

Part of being humble is being willing to say, “Oops!”  And when we do, God receives our confession, allows us to relax and recover, and then re-engages our will in a renewed pursuit of His will.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 31 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church
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1 Response to Ministry Musings: What If I Get It Wrong?

  1. Patrick says:

    A good one to keep with us at all times. It makes me wonder about some earlier discussions as to whether or not we will always hit the “target” and the importance of aim, but in this context it is like all things lead to the “target” if our heart is in it.

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