The Fine Art of Discernment

     Do you ever get confused by the wealth of information available out there on the internet, in books, in magazines, on TV, not to mention advice from friends and relatives?  One source says we should let our child sleep in bed with us so that he feels secure; another recommends letting baby cry himself to sleep in his own crib.  One expert warns that spanking may teach a child to be violent; another expert teaches that spanking can be an effective means of training when applied correctly.  One of your friends seems to think that a parent should never show anger toward a child; another friend feels we shouldn’t try to disguise our anger at all when we are frustrated.

     It can be overwhelming to take in all of the various opinions and recommendations, and then wonder if we’re doing the right thing as we attempt to apply some of them as we parent our kids.  Another problem we can encounter is the possibility of learning wonderful things from some parenting class or other resource, and later hearing criticisms of the same resource.  What’s a parent to do?  How can we be sure we’re doing the right thing as we seek out resources to help us in our parenting?

     In the hopes of shedding some light on this subject, I thought we could talk a little bit about discernment this month.  Webster’s defines “discernment” as:  an act or instance of discerning; the power of discerning; keen perception or judgment; insight; acumen.  Discern:  to separate (a thing) mentally from another or others; recognize as separate or different; to perceive or recognize; make out clearly.

     From these definitions, we can see that the ability to discern gives us, basically, the wisdom to recognize the difference between things, to have good judgment, and make things out clearly.

     I feel we don’t have to be afraid to check out as many parenting resources as we possibly can.  We may not agree with every single point in a book that we read, but we can glean good, effective advice and disregard the rest.  If a friend gives her opinion on a parenting issue, we are free to follow that suggestion or forget about it if we feel it won’t be effective with our own family.

     How do we learn to discern?  By comparing all that we read and hear to what the Bible says.  If something obviously goes against what God tells us in the Bible, then we definitely need to disregard it.  I don’t think we need to completely dismiss some person or ministry just because we don’t agree with a few points they teach.  Remember, God works in each person’s life…all of us are in the midst of a process of becoming more mature and holy.  You may not agree with everything you read here at The Robyn’s Nest.  That’s OK!  I’m sharing what God has taught me so far in my walk with Him.  I feel that most of it is accurate and biblically sound, but some of my own opinions may have crept in here and there, and some of those may not be so sound.

     The Bible says that when we become mature… “Then  we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.”  We can be discerning – the key is in going to the Lord for wisdom and guidance as we check out different parenting resources.  We don’t have to be inconsistent, flip-flopping back and forth between different suggestions from the experts.  The Expert (God) will speak to us through His Word and other sources and He will show us how He wants us to parent the children He has given us.

     Parent in faith, confidently applying the truths that God leads you to.  When you are uncertain about a certain practice, resource, or suggestion, then pray about it and wait for God to make it clear to you.  If you do this, you will find yourself growing in wisdom and you will master the fine art of discernment.

      “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.  For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding.  He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.

     Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path.  For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.  Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.”     (Proverbs 2:1-11)


© Robyn Mulder 2000,

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