I have been in an ongoing discernment process, and also sharing about that process here on the blog. For the most part, I have been following a process prescribed and laid out by St. Ignatius — the Spanish monk who founded the Jesuits. I think it is a great process and simply going through it has been a great experience — almost irregardless of what decision I end up making.
But there is one cautionary note worth making in it comes to DISCERNMENT and it is, in the words of Andy Stanly, THE PRINCIPLE OF THE PATH.
In short, here is his thesis: DIRECTION, not INTENTION determines our DESTINATION.
In other words, if you are heading north, you will end up north even if you intended to go south.
In fact, intentions are pretty meaningless when it comes to our journey. All that matters is really the direction we are heading.
This is a pretty important principle to remember.
My hope and prayer is that I am becoming a more fully devoted follower of Jesus every day. My prayer is that I am maturing in Christ and becoming more like Him. More important than my job or vocation to God is my character — how am I growing as a human being? How am I becoming all that God intended and created me to be? How am I living in the glorious reality of being a created creator in the imagine of the Great Creator?
Am I on the right path to such character development?
If not, whatever intentions or decisions I make are pretty irrelevant.
I know people who INTEND on becoming DEBT FREE but are still on the PATH OF DEFICIT SPENDING (loans, credit cards, car payments, etc). Until they change directions (the literal meaning of “repent” is to “change directions” — really a 180 degree change) — because DIRECTION, not INTENTION determines our DESTINATION.
I know people who INTEND on breaking certain habits or addictions, but keep going on the same PATH that got them into the habit or addiction in the first place. Until they actually
change direction, they will not experience victory — because DIRECTION, not INTENTION determines our DESTINATION.
I know people who dream of doing world-changing great things, but quite frankly are still on the PATH OF THE ORDINARY. And they will stay on that path until they change directions — because DIRECTION, not INTENTION determines our DESTINATION.
So part of the discernment process is an honest, in-your-face, ruthless evaluation of WHAT PATH ARE YOU ON? And where will it lead if you stay on it?
By nature, we are prone to be self-deceivers (or, at least I am). So it isn’t always easy to really see the path we are on. But see we must — because THAT PATH WILL DETERMINE OUR DESTINATION.
So if I don’t want to end up THERE, I better change the path I am on.
ARE YOU ON A GOOD PATH RIGHT NOW?