6 Discernment Questions for Responsible People

In my last post, I shared a parable and made the point that we are not meant to do everything. But how do we discern when to say yes or no to opportunities for doing good? Jesus was frequently surrounded by hurting people, but he had only a few short years of ministry to activate systemic change. In order to focus and be effective, he regularly interacted with the Father to receive clarity of vision and direction (Mark 1:35-38).

We can follow Jesus’ example by discerning with God what responsibilities he is asking us to hold and what we need to release. Here are some questions to aid in that conversation:

  1. What is motivating my need to be responsible?
    Before taking on an added responsibility, ask yourself what is motivating you. Is it a need to feel…in control? secure? loved? worthy? Might there be something lurking underneath what appears honorable? Check those things and bring them to Jesus.
  2. What is God up to and how can I partner with him?
    Young leaders often want to know God’s ten year vision for their lives and how they will become world-changers. That is a lot of pressure! Jesus is the one changing the world. Our job is to partner with him. Ask yourself: What story has Jesus already been writing? Who is the main character?
  3. Who might I be overlooking in my immediate proximity?
    Jesus was aware of where he was headed, but he also was present to who was right in front of him (Mark 5:25-34). My church small group spent a night discerning ways we could serve our city. But it soon became clear that we didn’t need to go searching for service projects because a couple members of our small group were really suffering. Sometimes the people Jesus is calling us to be responsible to are already in our midst.
  4. How can I get some coaching to discern my vocational call?
    In that last couple years I have had a coach who has helped me to succinctly articulate my vocational call: My call is to teach, train, and coach so that young leaders thrive in their lives with Jesus. That vision statement now serves as a filter for everything I do. Is it an opportunity to teach, train, and coach young leaders? Then I will say yes. If not, I need to think twice. If you’ve never had a coach to help you discern your vocational call, I highly recommend it!
  5. What is in my job description?
    Whether or not you’re convinced of your vocational call, get very clear on your current job description. So many young leaders burn out because they feel responsible for things no one is asking them to do. Be on the same page with your supervisor about what is and is not your responsibility and it will save you a lot of pain. If you hate your job description, are their opportunities to change it? Obviously that is not always possible, but it is worth asking the question.
  6. Who can partner with me/ who else can do this?
    Before you commit to every invitation to serve, pause and ask: Would someone else be better at this? Who can share the load with me? As you partner with Jesus, you are partnering with the whole body of Christ! Remember that you are not alone!

Which of these questions is helpful for you? What else helps you in your own discernment?

Published by K.Aalseth

Kelly J. Aalseth is the Coordinator for Leadership Development for InterVarsity in Greater Los Angeles. She is an author, coach, preacher, and trainer.

2 thoughts on “6 Discernment Questions for Responsible People

  1. Kelly, Motive: why I’m doing things is a fine question to bring before the Lord. I’d like to engage in that exercise more often, though I’m a little afraid of what I might learn! Thanks for the post.


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