Listening Hearts Ministry
"God, what are you calling me to do next with my life?"
Listening Hearts is a lay spiritual discernment ministry which attempts to assist parishioners answer such questions.
Discernment, which comes from the word “discern,” means to show insight, keen perception and good judgment in separating one idea from another. Spiritual discernment means to understand and separate God’s voice or call from all the other voices or calls competing for attention in our lives. It is a focused endeavor to identify God’s Spirit in a situation and to determine where it may be pointing.
All of us work to achieve success, prosperity and respectability with family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, fellow employees, and those at church. We all face emotional crises. There are cultural and social expectations we set for others and expect ourselves to meet. All of us face serious issues with all these competing goals, needs and emotions. Through all these competing influences, how is it possible to distinguish God’s call from all the other competing calls?
Spiritual discernment recognizes that:
Listening for God’s call, and separating it from other voices, is not easy, and is much more than an intellectual exercise.
Trained people can help others discern and identify God’s spirit and voice.
Michael Battle, in “Practicing Reconciliation in a Violent World” pointed out that St. Paul recommended a similar process:
While inner work is a deeply personal matter, it is not necessarily a private one. There are ways to be together in community to help each other with that inner work. Quakers, in particular, come together in a way that is supportive but not invasive, asking a lot of questions but never rendering judgment or giving advice. Their togetherness respects the mystery of the human heart but still allows people to challenge and “stretch” one another in that work.
Many issues invite spiritual discernment. Below are just a few examples:
Personal relationships - husband-wife, parent-child, or those with friends
Professional relationships - boss-subordinate, or those with co-workers or professional colleagues
Priorities for use of time and energy
Specific work situations
Personal-professional time demands
The call within the call (e.g., "I am called to serve in this place, but how is God asking me to focus my efforts at this time?)
Career options (Is God calling me to persevere in this place or to seek out new possibilities for moving on?)
Issues related to race, culture, gender, sexuality
St. Peter’s now has seven people of faith trained in spiritual discernment. They are called “discerners,” and they are available to parishioners who are interested in participating in this process.
A discernment session takes about three hours. It involves appropriate preparation, followed by a discernment session with three discerners. No records are kept of any discernment session. All communications are strictly confidential.
If you are seeking to understand what God’s direction or call is for you on an issue or question in your life, you may wish to consult with one of the clergy to see if a discernment session may be helpful for you. Please contact Frank and Eva Kear, 858.481.3832 or SBFEK@roadrunner.com