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Spiritual Discernment and Vocational Counseling

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This paper starts with a description of how to make godly decisions through prayer, the Holy Spirit and reading biblical scriptures. It will explore spiritual discernment using the bull’s-eye method. The literature will discuss my past and present experiences of discernment, a counselor and clients experiences and my comments on my personal position of this client’s supplication. Spiritual Discernment and Vocational Counseling

Segment 1: Personal Position
When making career decisions that are in harmony with one’s self and with the will of God (Christian, 208) one should be praying for wisdom to make godly decisions, sensing inner peace from the Holy Spirit and referring to bible scriptures (Horton, 2010). Prayer is being in the presence of God. It is being in the position where the ego is put aside, hope is elevated and requests are made. One admits his needs, accepts humility, and asks God for help. Prayer is having the opportunity to be in touch with God being able to confess sins and touching the heart of God via his son, Jesus Christ our savior (Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry, 2011). When one prays, prayer is love, devotion, and a walk that allows one to participate daily to keep their thoughts positive (McMinn, 1996). Prayer is like a foundation, one need to pray for strength, understanding, help, peace, love, guidance and gratitude. When one prays, he is conversing with God, walking closer to him, talking and listening to him. One who believes can pray from his or her heart on anything that they want to talk to God about. Another reason to pray is because God told us to pray. Being obedient is a result of discipleship.

In Luke 18:1 it states “then he spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (New King James Version). Ephesians 6:18 states “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests with this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (New International Version). Praying for guidance is trusting in God for him to direct or lead one in the right direction. Some people will not pray and make their own decisions in the power of their own will for the things that they want; for example, their own goals or anything they wish to happen for them. God is a supreme being; he loves us and knows what is best for us. Proverbs 3:5-6 states “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding: In all your ways acknowledge him. And he shall direct your paths” (NKJV). Praying for specific guidance and hearing from God can be confirmation of a correct choice. It may come instinctively by way of peace bequeathed by the Holy Spirit (Horton, 2010).

The Holy Spirit is one’s inner connection to God. It is part of one’s mind, and one’s sprit that is connected to the mind of God (Kaiser, 2010). Its job is to act as the voice for God to let one know the truth of who he is. Its function is to guide and direct one in the way to go and to re-establish one’s thinking to Gods way of thinking to enable him to triumph over the world. The Holy Spirit will bless or judge everyone by the criteria of God’s promise and his will (Kaiser, 2010). The Holy Spirit is powerful and it is one spirit that can give gifts at the same time to different people. In 1 Corinthians 12:7-8 it states “But the manifestation of the spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same spirit” (NKJV). The dogma of Jesus was not created by humans and the Holy Spirit can not be bought. A person can not produce what the Holy Spirit can with its awesome resources. The incentive is to offer people a chance to see how the Holy Spirit is used to spread the love of Jesus (Kaiser, 2010). The bible is instigated by God; it is flawless and has no misrepresentation of its facts.

It has authority with its teaching. It is a record of redemption of the history of Israel, life, the death and resurrection of Jesus. Its scriptures are used as the declaration of God’s word. The bible scriptures give clear guidance for most of one’s decision making. No one has to spend a lot of time brooding if God would be satisfied with the choice that he or she will make about career or any type of decisions. The confusion comes when one can not perceive a direction from the biblical scriptures that is God’s word (Barnes, 2010). Biblical scriptures give one strength, understanding and confirmation for most problems, decisions, faith, a repetition of history, understanding of today’s time, and predictions. The bible gives a universal standard for ethical behavior (McMinn, 1996). Horton (2009) suggests that people who support biblical understanding for spiritual discernment the root of their decision making should be based on biblical standards because the bible is sound, reliable and it is God’s holy word.

Macdonald, (2010) suggested that the bible is a cultural work of art because it is used in storytelling, preaching, drama and visual posters. The bible tells God’s story in how he created the world, the fall, redemption and the new creation. The bible has a sequence of events, songs, proverbs, prophetic books, writing of wisdom and letters. In the bible there is a comparison between connecting scripture and constructing culture. It is able to change one’s life and one’s culture because God still converses from beginning to end in the bible today. Scripture promises occur when the scripture connects one with the Holy Spirit, stimulates the content and causes the written word of God to turn into the spoken word of God (Macdonald, 2010). Approach to Spiritual Discernment

The spiritual discernment approach that I would follow would be the bull’s-eye method (Horton, 2009). I believe that God has a personal living word for everyone (McMinn, 1996). Through prayer and when one taps into the power of God, he will reveal his plan to the seeker. Christians on the path to maturity should have a worldview centered on Jesus Christ and the best way to discern that is through the scriptures and praying (Horton, 2009). Prayer is the way one communicates with God. With sincerity, when one prays for guidance God will reveal to the seeker the right decision. Affirmation of one’s decision may show up instinctively by the Holy Spirit as a feeling of serenity, or come through a person confirming the decision. The affirmation may come by way of scripture, or any way that is unprovoked (Horton, 2009). This could be one step or a road map to praying to God in order for him to reveal his will for one’s life. Maturity is a part of growing and this growth births wisdom which will help one in making decisions (Horton, 2009).

A study done by Hankle (2009) revealed that feelings are an important trait that is implied in discernment. Feelings can cause a blur in decision making. It necessitates that one distance himself from emotions in order to decipher of what is being offered is something of ultimate happiness or pleasure that may be misleading and not godly. They key is to understand if ideas and feelings that are emotionally involved in decision making is simply the result of one’s mind. Soothing theories and despair are involved in the discernment practice and needs to be reflected upon. Deciding where the thoughts are really coming from is essential in the discerning method and one can be moved by an impression of faith to make the decision.

Having respect for God and his word could help one counteract his excuses for following his own schema. Spiritual development should be promoted to everyone to develop their spiritual roots. Christians should extend their spiritual core through obedience so that they may become advanced followers who are being converted into the likeness of Jesus. Becoming more like him students will find it easier to recognize their options that are in agreement will God’s will. The scuffle moves from discernment to becoming aware of this knowledge and understanding how to make wise decisions. The most important lesson for Christians to learn about discernment is that their decisions should be expressed through this discerning energy (Horton, 2009). Segment II. Past & Present Influences

The past and present factors that could have influenced my approach to spiritual discernment would be that I was baptized at the age of 9 at the Smith Chapel Baptist church in Pelham NC. At this young age, against my will, my mom made me go to Sunday school and church. The church bell would start ringing at 9:45 am on Sunday morning. It was my calling, it was a reminder of respect, God was calling, and it was time to worship him. Now I understand the significance and I appreciate my upbringing. Proverbs 22:6 states “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it” (NKJV). My past experiences of being used and deceived by some people took its toll on me. I went to God and prayed for spiritual discernment. It did not come over night it came through experience and training. Taking a personality course in psychology also helped me to learn about different personalities and about the attachment system. Then I continued to pray and realized that I needed God’s forgiveness, to forgive my trespassers and love others as I loved my self which gave me a healthy sense of myself (McMinn, 1996).

Going through these times of hardships have given me hope and guidance. Psalms 119:105 states “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path” (NKJV). From that point I remembered the church and my upbringing and it made me grow in Christ. One can never help someone else until he or she has matured and learned how not to react to someone else’s carnality. I am presently visiting the church that I was reared in and understanding sermons on forgiveness and salvation. I have learned that when I am discerning about something it has to be directed by love, Jesus Christ has to be in the center of it, it leads me to scripture, it helps me build someone up, it brings unity, and has a keen gist of sin. True discernment is marked by one’s ability to love others through God’s salvation.

God’s son Jesus Christ has enabled me to have peace, love, and has humbled me greatly through his love. God has comforted me through all of my hard times and I am willing to share his greatness with others. To discern one has to look at his or herself first and not look down on other people. Some people will argue or say things to people to hurt them. It is better to surrender those feelings to God and listen to hear from the Holy Spirit or a scripture to ease his or her feelings. My understanding of genuine discernment is stated in 2 Timothy2:24-26 that says “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil” (NKJV). III. Practical Application

Before the client comes to counseling the first thing I would do is pray for my client before the session. I would find out the background of my client, her culture, and belief system and the various reasons that inspire the client’s academic interest. I would ask her what she really wants to do. I would tell her to pray and will pray with her asking God for wisdom to make godly decisions (Horton, 2010). I would find a scripture to help her with her faith in God. In Matthew 7:7 it states “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find, knock, and it will be opened to you” shall (NKJV). Prayer is dependent on the Holy Spirit to lead and guide the healing session used ethics responsibly and in a sensitive way for the client to benefit in spiritual development (Siang-Yang, 2007). The next step would be to help the client with future planning using the tasks of crystallization that would help the client to simplify the type of work that gives her pleasure.

I would need information from client like her values, abilities, and interests. The next step would be to assist my client in translating all of the career information she finds and develop a career plan that will allow her to make associations between her school activities and her future prospects. I would encourage her to participate in school activities, volunteering, maybe part-time employment or job shadowing in order to motivate her (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2009). Hopefully this will also help the client to make connections between school activities and her future. I would try to teach the client skills like self-assessment, job search, and career information that is important for successful career planning and career decision making. Past decision making experiences is a key feature in career counseling (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2009). Personal Stand

My personal stand would be to be competent in multicultural and career counseling. I would want to increase my client’s life satisfaction and turn this knowledge into career alternatives for her (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2009). Hopefully the Holy Spirit will be ministering to the client. At the end of the session the counselor will ask the client to pray and the counselor will pray at the end of the session. If the client agrees the counselor will give the client exercises and scriptures to read at home (McMinn, 1996). The theme that emerges from these narratives is that the client’s relationship with God is perceived as being personal, vigorous, and encouraging. This will allow for the client to become optimistic in screening, responsible and clarifying the events of her life story (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2009). In the narratives God touched her heart to become a helper. As Christians it is all about giving glory and being thankful to God. Psalm 119:105 affirms “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light unto my path” (NKJV).

It is about me having the opportunity to help others make modifications in their lives; helping others help themselves (Corey & Corey, 2007). I am God’s creation and he has known me infinitely from birth. Psalm 139:13 states “for you formed my inward parts you covered me in my mother’s womb” (NKJV)”. He has given me talents that he chose just for me. Romans 12:6 states “Having the gifts differing according to the grace that is give to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith” (NKJV). I feel that it is God desire for me to use the gifts that he gave me. Working out of one’s calling will bring one fulfillment. The consequences will be to treat other people ethically and worthy. This will bring praises to God and will glorify his name. In order to make or have good career options one must be aware and realize his or her values, interest, skills, and personality. Without this awareness one is not capable of making good career choices (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2009.


Barnes, M. (2010). Cloud and fire. Christian Century, 127(15), 35. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Christian, G. (2008). The way of discernment: Spiritual practices for decision making. Library Journal, 133(12), 53. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry. (2011). What is prayer? CARM website. Retrieved from http://carm.org/christianity/prayer-ministry/what-prayer Corey, M.S., & Corey, G. (2007). Becoming a helper (5th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole. Hankle, D. (2010). The Psychological Processes of Discerning the Vocation to the Catholic Priesthood: A Qualitative Study. Pastoral Psychology, 59(2), 201-219. doi:10.1007/s11089- 008-0190-6

Horton, D. J. (2009). Discerning spiritual discernment: Assessing current approaches for understanding god’s will. Journal of Youth Ministry, 7(2), 7-31. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Kaiser Jr., W. C. (2010). The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. Evangelical Quarterly, 82(4), 308-315. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Macdonald, F. (2010). Making culture with Scripture songs. Evangelical Quarterly, 82(4), 299- 307. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

McMinn, M. R. (1996). Psychology, theology, and spirituality in Christian counseling. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
Niles, S. G., & Harris-Bowlsbey, J. (2009). Career development interventions in the 21st century. (3rd Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Siang-Yang, T. (2007). Use of Prayer and Scripture in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. Journal of Psychology & Christianity, 26(2), 101-111. Retrieved from Academic Search database.

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