Discernment is a process, undertaken by an individual or by a group. The two principal foundations of discernment are:
- A trust that God has a plan for each one of us
- An openness/willingness to follow God's plan for us.
The goal of the discernment process is twofold:
- To discover who God is calling me to be. Who am I as a follower of Christ?
- To discover what God is calling me to do. How am I to live out the call to Christian discipleship in the secular world or in ecclesial ministry?
While these questions are oftentimes interrelated and both need to be answered, they are two separate responses. For discerning God's call in relationship to vocation and ministry, there are a few questions that are incorporated in any decision:
- What do I feel called to do?
- What am I gifted to do?
- What does the church need me to do?
These answers to these three questions offer important clues for discerning what God may be calling a person to do. Time needs to be spent in reflection upon where are answers are leading us. Frederick Buechner describes vocation as, "The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."
Although each of us hopes to discover the exact intersection of the sense of our calling, the understanding of our gifts, and the needs of the church, in the reality of life, we strive to respond to God's call as faithfully as we can.
There are numerous resources to help a person discern God's calling in his or her life. Several are included below.