‘Do not neglect your gift…’
(1 Tim 4:14)
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.’
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 honouring 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. 
Through good stewardship we can reach our potential and our gifts can be used to bless and grow the church.
The gift of discernment is a powerful weapon in times of spiritual warfare and of great assistance when breakthrough is needed in our personal or church life.
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
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. Other ways we can keep our gift on track are below:
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.
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 complementary 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!
5. Study It
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 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 outcome.
The gift of discernment can also help give you insight as to how to respond and pray for breakthrough in any situation.
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.
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.
 This is quoted from my book, ‘Grow Your Prophetic And Prayer Gifts‘
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 Publishing