Weekly Devotional

The Gift of Discernment

Reflection by John Hargrave

 Look beneath the surface, so you can judge correctly. ­­


Several months ago, I was faced with a big personal decision, which I shared with Rev. Pam Emslie. Pam listened to my situation, then suggested, “Why don’t you bring this decision to our discernment group?”

I knew about the Village Church Discernment Ministry, that the group held these matters in the strictest confidence. Perhaps that’s why I had the impression that it was a highly secret organization, like the Illuminati. I pictured them meeting in an underground cave, by torchlight.

“Where do they meet?” I asked Pam.

“In the Parlor.”


A few weeks later, I found myself in the Parlor (no torches) with several of my fellow Village Church members: Dorothy Patton, Tracey Wood, Kristin Mawhinney, Ken Sipe, and Pam Emslie. Everyone was dressed casually (no robes).

This is how the Discernment Ministry works: for the next two hours, they simply asked questions and listened. They didn’t offer any advice. It was such a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere that I found it easy to open up. Before long, I had discerned the truth for myself.

Discernment means “the ability to judge well,” and it’s one of those words that has a uniquely Christian flavor. However, judgment is something we need in every area of our life: deciding on a college, whom to marry, whether to have kids, where to work, when to make life changes.

When friends ask us for judgment, our instinct is to offer advice, to make the decision for them. I found there is an incredible power in simply asking questions and listening. The Spirit can be far more effective when we simply create space for the other person to find their own truth.

My experience with our Discernment Ministry was incredibly positive. I not only arrived at the answer to my decision, but their questions opened up surprising personal insights. I discovered a few truths about myself that literally changed the way I view life.

Perhaps the group’s confidentiality makes you feel that it should only be used for a major life crisis. That’s not the case: everyone is welcome, with decisions of any size. And they don’t bring up your discussion again outside the group: what goes on in the Parlor, stays in the Parlor.

I am confident there is some life decision facing you right now. I hope you’ll consider our Discernment Ministry. They’re available any time, and you won’t even need to bring a flaming torch.

Devotional Archives