9 Actions for Increasing Your Discernment

Discernment: a beautiful gift that can bring value to so many in our wake! But what exactly is discernment?

We’ve all heard leadership experts talk a lot about knowledge and wisdom, but we seldom discuss the value of discernment. I think it’s because it so hard to explain, figure out and teach… if it can even be taught.

The differences between knowledge and wisdom



Acquired through data, facts, and information Acquired through time, experiences, and awareness
Challenges: Waiting for all the facts before making decisions; Having inaccurate information; Treating knowledge as power Challenges: Wanting wisdom now. Wisdom is only gained in the journey; it can’t be taught.
Benefits: Use knowledge to help others Benefits: You get to use your experiences – both good and bad – for the benefit of others.
Based on information Based on understanding

The Depth of Discernment

Discernment goes deeper than knowledge and wisdom. It’s an intuition. In fact, I think that discernment is a gift that matures itself through life experiences. It’s a profound perception of what is occurring inside a person.

It’s critical that good leaders have both knowledge and wisdom, but I’ve found that discernment is what separates good leaders from the truly gifted ones.

While discernment isn’t unlike wisdom in that it grows and matures through our experiences, there are actions we can take to bring out this gift of discernment.

9 Actions for Increasing Your Discernment

  1. Pay attention to how others think. Try to understand the thoughts behind their decisions. Ask “why” in an effort to learn, not to debate.
  2. Expand your experiences. Stop looking for the highest paying job and instead look for the opportunity to gain the experiences you need to grow.
  3. Analyze your successes. Focus on finding the heart of the matter.
  4. Listen to your gut! Allow your head to consult with your gut. Intuition starts as a feeling, and it’s a God given talent. Honor it more.
  5. Learn to listen to God’s voice. Quiet your thoughts. Read scripture with a receiving mindset and reflect on the mind of God.
  6. As you listen to others, know that something inside is driving their outside. Don’t be judgmental. Forgive others so you can see their inside.
  7. Put the electronics down. You won’t learn discernment with your nose in social media. Experience communicating with people in real life.
  8. Be observant. Watch characteristics. Be sensitive.
  9. Connect the decision making process and actions to the final outcome. There should be synergy in that stream. Logical to the head but approved by the gut.

What actions do you need to take to grow in your discernment?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Petra says:

    This is exactly what I needed. I was looking for something like this because now with the plethora of news and noise we get and so many opposing voices, I wanted some tools that i could possess to improve my discernment.

    Thank you for this!

  • John W. Burnett says:

    I was referred to this blog by a friend and boy am I thankful for that! I completely agree with your characterization of discernment. Im always studying the leadership skills military leaders possess and after reading this, a quote by Colin Powell came to mind. In his book, “It worked for me: In life and leadership” he said”good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgement.” In my humble opinion, I believe he was describing discernment.