Do you have a spiritual gift of discernment and would like to know how to grow and develop it more?

The Apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to grow in the gifts God had given to him, and the same is true for us today.
‘Do not neglect your gift…’ (1 Tim 4:14)

Knowing and Growing in the Gift of Discernment

A prophet visited our church in Auckland, New Zealand. He pointed me out in the congregation and said, “You have a gift of discernment.”

A few years later when we were living in another city, the same prophet visited our church there. He again pointed me out and said, “Has anyone ever told you that you have a gift of discernment of spirits?” I said, “Yes, you did several years ago.”

We all had a good laugh—but he remembered neither the earlier prophecy nor me. He ministered throughout New Zealand and overseas and had prophesied over hundreds of people in the interim.’[1]

A Time of Trial

It is one thing to know that you have a spiritual gift of discernment—it is quite another thing to know what to do with it, and how to use it!
A short time after this prophetic confirmation, I began to struggle in church life. I had not been taught the principle of honoring leaders and accountability in the use of my revelatory gifts.

I thank God that He allowed a time of trial to teach me and bring me through repentance to a place of fruitfulness in the use of my gifts. [2]

Discernment is a powerful gift and a good gift from the Father! (Luke 11:13) Through good stewardship, we can reach our potential and our gift can be used to bless and grow the church.

8 Ways to Grow Your Gift of Discernment

Here are 8 ways that you can grow your spiritual gift of discernment of spirits. And yes, some of these I have learned the hard way—through trial and error!

1. Source It

True discernment comes from intimacy with the Father.

It is vital that we understand the difference between discernment that is from the Holy Spirit and suspicion, which can masquerade as discernment but is actually sourced in our own human nature.

This is a danger that can trip even mature discerners up. The best means of preventing this is our intimate relationship with God.

When we get to know our Father more intimately, we gain the first-hand experience of His love, and that helps us grow in our gift of discernment.

2. Plant It

‘Planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God.’ Ps 92:13

The Biblical context for growing in our gifts is the community of a church (1 Cor 12).

As with all prophetic people, discerners need to be cared for and pastored in a church environment.

Just as plants need the right environment to grow, we need to be nurtured in order for us to grow and sharpen our discernment gift.

When we are planted in the life of a healthy church, we can flourish and grow in our gift. However, we must remember that it will not always be smooth sailing in community life—even in the healthiest of churches.

3. Submit It

It is vital, and a matter of protection for others and ourselves, that we operate in our spiritual gift of discernment with accountability, and under God-given leadership.

It is important that we encourage our insights to be weighed up (1 Cor 14:29). As the Apostle Paul said, ‘For we know in part and we prophesy in part.’ (1 Cor 13:9)

The discernment that we receive is incomplete without the insights of others, who will have different pieces of the puzzle and complimentary gifts. (1 Cor 12:12-27)

Feedback is also a great tool to help us grow in our discernment.

4. Purify It

It is possible for the expression of a discernment gift to be affected by our response to negative experiences that we have had in our lives.

I had prayer ministry to help me break free of fear associated with early experiences of demonic encounters. I also received ministry in relation to difficulties with authority. As a result, I have a much more useful gift.

I have also had to grow a great deal in my character—a journey that is ongoing!

As we develop in our character, in wisdom, and holiness, our gift of discernment grows and becomes sharper.

5. Study It

Another vital source to help us develop our spiritual gift is to grow in our study and understanding of Scripture.

Find out what the Bible has to say about the gift of discernment:

  • Read examples of people who encountered unseen spiritual realities—how did they respond? What did they do as a result of their experiences?
  • How and when did Jesus use the gift of discernment to minister to people?
  • What does the Apostle Paul say in his epistles about how spiritual gifts operate in the context of church life and ministry?

6. Develop It

As with other gifts, discernment can be developed and strengthened.

The ability to receive a revelation from God is only one aspect of this spiritual gift. Other aspects include:

  • Having the wisdom to know what to do once you have received the discernment,
  • How and when to share your insight
  • How to weigh up what you have received against scripture
  • Procedures for submitting an insight, and so on.

Seek to be trained or mentored in the context of a Christian community, where you have safe people who can give you feedback and encourage you on the journey.

Look for good training, along with books and other resources on the topic of spiritual warfare and related areas.

7. Use It

Don’t hold back. Even if you are starting out and tentative, God can use you powerfully. Use your gift of discernment to help guard and grow your church.

If you discern warfare or have a warning, remember that God’s heart is always to redeem and restore. Seek the Father for a promise and His prophetic outcome.

The gift of discernment can also help give you insight as to how to respond and pray for a breakthrough in any situation.

It is only through stewardship and practice that we can grow our spiritual gift of discernment.

8. Persevere With It

In the development of every spiritual gift, there are times of trial.

In some testing times, God may be allowing us to lose confidence in our own ability to perform in our gift. For example, we may have a period when our discernment becomes cloudy, or we may make an assumption that turns out to be in error.

During these times He is calling us to become more dependent upon Him and to grow in humility.

You may have true discernment but have been misunderstood or feel as though you have been set aside for a season.

These are times to persevere, and not to allow offense or discouragement to divert you from your calling. Wilderness seasons are allowed by our Heavenly Father to help us grow in our character or to direct us into new areas of fruitfulness.


  • DISCERNMENT Front Cover SmallAre 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 to help you grow in your gift of discernment.

Related posts:

A Checklist For Developing Your Spiritual Gifts

3 Levels of Discernment and Signs of Each

8 Signs You May Have The Spiritual Gift Of Discernment

[1] This is quoted from my book,
Grow Your Prophetic And Prayer Gifts
[2]I tell the full story in
‘Prophetic People In A Changing Church.’ For a brief testimony check out the Enliven Publishing ‘About’ page.

© Helen Calder 2010

Enliven Ministries: Prophetic Ministry for a Revival Generation

26 thoughts on “Discernment: 8 Simple Ways To Grow Your Gift of Discernment”

  1. Hi Helen, i agree with most of what you say here but just one point re: “When we are planted in the life of a healthy church, we can flourish and grow in our gift.”

    what do you mean by church? cannot the same development happen in a home-group or were ever Christians get together to fellowship and pray together. Does it have to always be in a church? For me this gift stared to develop when i was in a small church who did not move in the gifts. At first i was not sure why i felt certain things but as time went on i began to understand this was from the Lord.

    I found the gift of discernment functioned both in the negative as well as the positive and over the yeas has been a very valuable to gift for me to function in.

    the points number 4 and 6 that you raised are very important points to be aware of.

    1. Hi Charlie,
      I guess that depends on what definition of church you and I are using 🙂 I do agree with you that development can happen in small groups (church!). The key, I believe, is Godly leadership. Will get back to you later as I’m on the way out the door…

  2. Hi again, Charlie,
    ‘church’ is a very broadly used term. On one end of the scale, it can be used to define an institution, and on the other, to define any group of ‘2 or 3 gathering together in Jesus’ Name.’
    I do agree with you that growth of a discernment gift can be nurtured in a small group environment. A prayer group is an example of that. However, and this I believe is the key issue, even with a small group there should be relational accountability and/or oversight outside of itself in the wider church body.

    Here is a definition of a ‘healthy church’ I have used in my book ‘Prophetic People in A Changing Church:’

    ‘A healthy local church, generally speaking:
    · Is under governmental and relational accountability to mature Christian leaders both inside and outside of the church
    · Has a biblically-mandated vision, both in principles that apply to all churches and those specific to that particular church. Its leadership is teaching and preaching from a balanced scriptural perspective
    · Whilst always aiming for maturity, is not a perfect church—and leaders of a healthy church will readily admit to this imperfection, and
    · Has an evangelistic outlook, seeking to influence the surrounding community and win people to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.’

  3. I have as described above, always had an ability to know if someone is genuine or not. I never really thought much of until a few years ago, when i started feeling the outcomes to situations. On one occation i was told by my Lord that something would happen, a few years later it did happen. Since then i have felt many things, my biggest problem is me, i expected instant results and this is not my Lords plan. My Lord’s timescale is not the same as mine, and i must wait on him. I do get times when i feel redundant. I often fear i miss judge the feeling. I am learning my first instinctive thought is the genuine one. Learning to excercise this gift (if i really do have it) is something i pray for.

  4. Hi Victoria,
    Thank you for sharing!
    It does sound as though you have a gift of discernment that may also be combined with a prophetic gift ( a sense of what is to happen in the future).

    You are so right about our timing and the Lord’s timing often being different. That can be difficult, can’t it? I know there have been times when I have felt a warning with urgency but the actual timing was not for then. The urgency was a prompt from the Spirit to pray.

    The gift of discernment is a valuable one; as you grow and are faithful you will certainly learn how to exercise it–the Lord will honour your desire to honour Him in the use of your gift. 🙂

  5. Thank you for having such a blog. I have always been extremely sensitive to what is going on around me. Seeing things way before other people see them and of course, not really knowing what to do with the information that I have. I come from a back round where of course I had to be pretty hypervigilant and I think sometimes that some of my old hurts get mixed up with how I should handle the discernment ability that God has given me. I am a sold out believer and definately not a mainstream Christian. I live in a small town where people are definately more religion minded than kingdom minded and I oftentimes feel very alone in what I see. One of my issues is that I was never encouraged to trust what I see and as a result, my confidence level is low and my fear of making the wrong decision is pretty heightened. I have to say, though, that reading this information has been so healing because I thought maybe I was giving myself a little too much credit for my sensitivity. I truly want what is in the Heart of God for my life and those around me, but I cannot deal with the “stuff” I see sometimes in the midst of the church. I love my pastor, but I have also been exposed to many more things than this town could imagine and I also know that God is far bigger than the box that people try to place Him in. Thank you. I am encouraged and will use the resources on this site.

    1. Hi Shelley,
      I’m glad you have found the articles helpful. It can be challenging when you have a spiritual gift but feel isolated in it (as often happens with the gift of discernment). I pray that you will continue to find encouragement and learn to grow in your gift. You may find a couple of my e-books helpful in your journey too. If you have any specific questions, leave a note here and I’ll do my best to answer them. Blessings, Helen

  6. Dear brethren
    Greetings to you in the mighty and blessed name of our lord jesus
    christ.Iam Nathan nyabutofrom kenya,..Iam a servant of the truth
    and the gosple.Brethren! its today that i have been brevelleged and
    blessed to have visited you web site and i have found it teaching and
    so much touching in spritual matters up to have reached the point that
    iam filling to partner up with you so as to teach me this truth deeper
    and also to expand the kingdom of God to other brethrens.
    Hope to hear from you as soon as you are able.
    Yours in the lord.
    Nathan nyabuto

    1. Hi Nathan, thank you for leaving a note on my site, I pray that you will find much material here to encourage and empower you in your ministry.

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