Ministry Musings: Aim at Improvement

(Note: This is the final post on the subject of discernment.  If you want to review the entire series, go to “Ministry Musings” on August 30, 2012, where the first posting was made)….

A surprising discovery I have made in studying discernment is that those who practice it do not view it as any type of “closure.”  In other words, praying to know God’s will does not mean that once we know it, we have come to the end of our quest.

Rather, discernment is viewed as a step in a much-larger improvement process.  God’s will never comes to us in its entirety.  It comes as just enough light on the path for us to take one or two steps ahead.  Knowing and doing the will of God moves us forward, but it does not bring us to the end of the journey.

This is why discernment is often explored in relation to the fruit of the Spirit.  We have said this in previous postings, but it is a good way to end the series.  Take Love, for example.

Discernment is praying, “How can I (we) improve the quality of Love in this situation?”  As God reveals even small attitudes and actions to do this, we can know that we have discerned the will of God faithfully.

We could do the same for each of the nine dimensions of the fruit of the Spirit.  It is in aiming at improvement, not completion, that we find that discernment is a dynamic, never-ending thing.

As this series concludes, I ask you to pray for me.  I am in the process of writing a book on discernment.  It is tentatively entitled, Walking in the Light: Praying to Know God’s Will. Upper Room Books will publish it, most likely in the Summer or Fall of 2014.

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 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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1 Response to Ministry Musings: Aim at Improvement

  1. Cathy Thacker says:

    Praying for you, Steve! And I look forward to reading your new book on discernment. These posts are encouraging and helpful to me on my walk with God!

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