I am currently preparing to go to Sydney for a ‘School of Healing and Impartation’ with Bill Johnson and Randy Clark.

It’s a funny thing, that there are ‘Schools of the Prophets’, ‘Prophetic Conferences,’ ‘Healing Schools,’ and so on. But whoever heard of a discernment conference? There are books a-plenty on the topics of healing and prophecy—but few on the topic of discernment.

When I first started to navigate my way through the mysteries of encountering the spiritual realm, I had few resources to help me. It seemed that I had ‘marched off the map.’ I did have some prophetic mentors, but not all of the advice I received was healthy. For the most part, I was alone.

Over the next few posts I am going to discuss how to grow in and exercise the gift of discernment.

Seeing the Way the Father Sees

Discernment of spirits is the Spirit-given ability to distinguish whether Divine, human or demonic origins are the source of what is presented—whether it be in an atmosphere, encounter, event, or prophetic message.

Our goal in discernment is twofold: firstly, to see what the Father would have us see, and secondly, to communicate that in such a way that we represent His viewpoint as closely as possible.

When He shows us something—even if it is demonic in nature, it is because He has a purpose for us in revealing it. His heart is always to redeem and restore people and for His church to be purified and made holy (Eph 5:25-27).

Whatever I perceive in the spiritual realm, I do not want my impression or communication to be coloured by my own viewpoint, prejudices or fears. This is a danger common to all who have the gift of discernment of spirits, and one that I have struggled with continually. [1]

The Discerners Heart

‘In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself… he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.’ 2 Tim 2:20-21

I have come to realise that the most important thing, as I seek to grow in the gift of discernment, is to prepare and guard my heart, and to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in cleansing myself from those things that endanger the clarity and purity of His gift in my life.

Here are some qualities to seek after if you would like to grow in the spiritual gift of discernment:

1. Love for God

We need to have a passion for God and His intimate Presence. As I have said, the highest use of the gift of discernment is not to see what the enemy is doing, but to discern what the Spirit of God is doing.

When we love Him, we will desire to know His heart and to faithfully represent Him in the expression of our gift.

2. Love for People

There is a reason why 1 Corinthians 13—the love chapter—is sandwiched between Paul’s two chapters on spiritual gifts.

I realise now that it is vital I do not jump to conclusions about a person, situation or anything based on my perceived discernment without first moving into Jesus’ position of love.

When I step into judgement, I inevitably get it wrong. I grieve over times in the past when I have formed opinions about people based on ‘discernment’ and missed Divine appointments.

Love for people will also keep us in Christian community. Our gifts were never meant to operate in isolation but in the environment of a local church (1 Cor 12-14).

3. Faith.

I want to learn to respond in faith and not fear, no matter what I perceive taking place in the spiritual realm.

It is important for us to always look for God’s positive outcome, not just to focus on the negative. God’s plan is to overturn every strategy of the enemy! I want to grow in faith and to place increasing value on looking for His redemptive purposes in the things He allows me to see.

4. Humility ( Teachability)

I have learned to be open to being adjusted about my discernment and to present and release my insights with ‘no strings attached.’

We will not always have similarly-gifted people around us to guide us in our gift. Pastors and leaders who do not have the gift of discernment themselves may be leading us.

As with other prophetic ministry, our leaders will not always respond to or act upon our revelations. God has graced them with the ability to see the bigger picture and we need to trust Him—and our leadership—in their response.

Even when we have been misunderstood or unfairly treated, it is important to keep a right heart attitude. I know that these are the times that I have learned and grown the most in my gift and character.

4. Wisdom (Balance)

All revelationary gifts need to be balanced with wisdom. Wisdom instructs us how to share what we are receiving, and also when to share, or when to hold back and pray.

People who are ‘flaky’ in their gifts are usually those who do have a gift of discernment, but have not developed the wisdom to use and communicate the gift properly (another reason is not receiving instruction on how to operate in the ministry in a way that honours God and people).

5. Purity (Wholeness)

The things that cloud my discernment often relate to areas of past hurts or circumstances that I have not responded well to. I want to grow in wholeness, so that old fears, temptations, judgments and wrong beliefs lose their hold on me (Eph 4:22-24).

The degree to which I can see clearly, and be sensitive to how the Holy Spirit would have me respond, is the degree to which I become more like Jesus—having cooperated with His Spirit in experiencing restoration in my heart.

I am still a long way from seeing what God sees, and perceiving how He sees, but my desire is to draw ever closer to that place when I am reflecting Him in my heart, thoughts, life and gifts—and that includes the gift of discernment.

Now, gotta go pack my suitcase…..

[1] This is one reason why, as in all revelatory gifts, it is vital that whatever we perceive is given to the opportunity to be assessed by others who are leaders or mature in the gift of discernment. As Paul said, “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”  2 Cor 13:1-2


DISCERNMENT Front Cover Small$5.95 AUD e-Book

Are you sensitive to what is taking place in the spiritual realm? Have you ever been adversely affected by a negative atmosphere?

You may have the spiritual gift of discernment.

The gift of discernment of spirits is a powerful weapon in times of spiritual warfare, and can be of great assistance when ministering freedom to individuals.

And yet many who have the gift of discernment have difficulty knowing what to do with what they are feeling or sensing.

‘Unlocking The Gift Of Discernment’ incorporates wisdom from Enliven Blog as well as additional valuable material on how to be protected as a discerner in times of spiritual warfare.

To view ‘Unlocking The Gift Of Discernment’ in our e-store, click here

Related Posts:

8 Signs You May Have The Gift Of Discernment

8 Ways To Grow Your Gift Of Discernment

6 Tips For Exercising The Gift Of Discernment In Church Life

©  Helen Calder   2010   Enliven Publishing

16 thoughts on “The Heart Of A Discerner”

  1. you are right that discernment is really needed. I don’t think it is the prophetic gift or the gift of discernment that is the issue, but rather knowing the Father’s heart, this comes from intimacy with Him. Out of this will flow the real discernment and the prophetic and genuine love for others. There is too much emphasis on the gifts and trying to define them and make them work rather than knowing the Father, intimacy with the Father reveals His heart, His love, his voice and we learn to discern what is from Him and what is not. Faith, wisdom all flow out of this relationship, the gifts are not packages separate from our intimacy with Him. So many pastors and people in ministry struggle in this area, it is reflected in their lives and in other areas. One thing I strongly believe, ministry is not what we do but what we are, this flows from knowing the Fathers heart. to sum up prophecy, discernment, wisdom, faith all flow from the one who spends time alone in the presences of the Lord, discovering the Father’s heart. There are many who have been given these gifts but they are not effective, (and some have been misused and hurt others) because they have not learned to lay aside their own ambition, self abilities and be still in the presence of the Lord. This is what we need to be teaching. agree? disagree?

  2. Hi Charlie and thanks, you are absolutely right, the ministry of the Spirit begins and continues with intimacy with the Father. Teaching this is a personal passion of mine.

    And how true, your observation of those who are hurt and ineffective in their gifts, does often relate to unfulfilled ambition and lack of intimacy with God (not getting the order right). There are, however, many complex reasons why people can be derailed in their ministry and gifts.

    I do believe there is value in identifying and stewarding the gifts we have been given. The Apostle Paul identifies them and encourages the church to grow, operate and steward them. But always in a context of our relationship with the Giver of the gifts.

    I love your heart and emphasis in intimacy. We have quoted you in our spiritual warfare training. Intimacy with God really is pivotal to our life and from it springs everything we do that is of eternal value.
    Thanks Charlie! (feel free to continue the conversation 🙂 )

  3. thanks for the reply Helen, just a couple of extra points. I believe the need of intimacy with the Father is vital for the prophetic to function as it should. A prophet has absolutely nothing to say if he does not hear what thew Lord is saying. If he does speak and does not hear from the Lord the source of what he is saying is coming from either the flesh or worse, demonic. This will caused much hurt in the body. Secondly from being in the Fathers presences we learn His heart and are then able to discern what is from Him and what is not. I have heard a lot of prophetic words lately and I feel much is wishful thinking and the flesh. I long for the day when there will be men and women released in the body who know the Father and will speak his word in power and humility.

    The other point for discussion, you talk about identifying the gifts, I understand what you are saying but for me my whole understanding in this area has changed, I would be interested in your comments on this. I believe that the gifts list given in the Bible are a list of examples, not the complete list, there are far greater range of gifts than listed. The context in Corinthians is not about teaching about the gifts themselves but the right usage of them, so Paul gives some examples and explains the usage of them.

    Secondly the Lord will release whatever gift we need according to the circumstances we are in if we are open to Him to do that. For example I did not feel I was an evangelist therefor when in India I always looked for others to preach the evangelistic message. Last time the Lord rebuked me on this and said, when you stand to speak i will release that annoting and gift, and He did. Since then I have seen this in a number of situations, He releases what is needed. The gifts are the gifts of the Holy Spirit, belonging to Him. As we walk in the power of the HS he gives what is needed. Yes we will be more use to operating in some gifts that others, maybe a core gift mix, but maybe that is because of experience or faith to use them. How many people are open to the Lord to continually release new gifts into their lives? or do we limit ourselves to what we have and become comfortable in them? comments?

  4. Hi Charlie, and thanks for the comment… wow, lots of points to respond to. I love your thoughts and will get back to you asap. Just back from Sydney yesterday avo, will get back to you soon 🙂 Helen

  5. Beverley Williams

    Helen, this makes alot of sense re: those who god has graced with the spirit of discernment, and how we walk in that, how I need to operate and conduct myself with the gift that god has placed on my life, and how to release the discerning insight to the leadership of the local church having no strings attached, even sometimes how a discerning person may come across flaky when they have not received instruction on how to operate in the ministry in a way that honours God and people, because this has occured with myself in my local church, constantly you step out in faith discerning this is what is really going on, and trust that god will take care of things.
    Dear helen if you have any more thoughts I would be grateful to receive, also helen it is true that not enough people in the body are discerning what the lord’s heart is, this takes humility, and it is imperitive to identify what the holy spiirit would like to say to us as a company of believers, to humble ourselves and for our motives to stay pure, in the whole process, a discerner must keep their heart pure and clean before the lord.

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