Discernment for Making Decisions

Last week I made a decision that turned out to be the wrong one. When deciding what to do, the people of old cast lots or consulted an oracle. Some fortunate ones heard God speak directly, telling them what to do. Then they simply followed whatever was indicated. For us, decision-making is not so easy. Especially for major decisions, we might feel as though we’re lost in a dark forest with no clear path to follow. Here are eight tips for finding our way out.

1. Pray, of course. Pray for wisdom and openness. Then listen to God in silence.

2. Talk to people you trust and who really know you for insight and guidance.

3. Imagine the outcome for each possible choice. Let it play out in your mind. Are the consequences good?

4. List the pros and cons of each choice. Then assess them, remembering that the longer list may not be the weightier one.

5. Consider what you would advise someone else to do in your situation.

6. Reflect on how your values and responsibilities come into play in the decision.

7. Take your time if possible. Snap decisions are not always the best ones.

8. The bottom line is what your heart tells you to do. God has a way of planting desires in us to steer us in the right direction.

If we find that we’ve made what we think was a bad decision, we can take comfort in knowing that in God’s grand scheme of things, perhaps it actually was the right decision. At least our all-loving God will be able to draw some good out of it!

What else have you found helpful in making a decision?





  1. Michelle on October 23, 2013 at 9:16 am

    I recently signed up for a Discernment and Decision Making Retreat at the Jesuit Retreat House nearby where I live. So far I love it! I’ve gotten alot of material and “homework” to look over everyday to learn more about Ignatian Spirituality and decision making. I especially like the Examen and praying in that way (I like things organized so praying in a certain order is helpful).
    Thanks for posting these tips as well. It’s very helpful, especially #7. I’m always a believer in going with your gut instinct right away…but sometimes that’s not always best to make a snap decision like that. Thanks for that reminder. 🙂

    • Kathleen Glavich, SND on October 23, 2013 at 9:20 am

      You’re welcome. It’s amazing how much there is to learn about our faith . . . and life!

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