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Discernment: The Most Critical Quality For A Leader

  • If you can’t see past the outward appearance of someone, you will never be a great leader.  EVER.

People are cunning and shrewd.  Some have experience with deception.  Others put up a good front.  Discerning the difference between a good talker and a hard worker can “make or break” your organization.  You could even find yourself married to the wrong person.

My father was color-blind.  In World War II, he could go up in an airplane and “spot” the camouflage of the enemy over their ground artillery when others could not see anything there.

A quick, prayerless decision can cost you years of heartache.  The “easy” decisions you do not pray about can be the greatest trap of the enemy.


1.     Never Make A DECISION With Your EMOTIONS.

  • Getting in a hurry to decide something throws off your discernment.  That’s why Scripture says there is “wisdom in a multitude of counsel.” 
  • Postpone a purchase, a relationship, or a hire for a few days.  Let all the factors settle on you.  Get the input of your trusted friends.  This is CRITICAL if you are dating someone your parents or friends do not trust.  See my blog How to Marry the Right Person for Life.
  • I postponed an “obvious” purchase for our church once in order to get more input.  The result was a savings of $1.2 million dollars for our church…on one purchase!

2.    Consider The Source.

  • This was one of my grandfather’s favorite phrases.  He judged a lot of what a person said by two things:

1.      Their past record of success, and

2.     Their past record of follow-through.

  • Get references.  Run references.  I recently observed a person hired for a very high municipal position who was fired when their “resume” ended up being bogus.  Be a “checker.”

3.    Listen To Your Spouse.

  • My wife, Melanie, has saved me much grief in affiliations.  She can “spot” a con-artist.  She can “smell” a lazy individual.  She can “feel” when something is not right in a promise.
  • Dave Ramsey talks about a time his wife felt a “check” in her spirit about the purchase of a building.  He listened to her and passed on the building.  The building they eventually got was so amazing, they privately named the building after her!

Getting in a hurry to decide something throws off your discernment.  That’s why Scripture says there is “wisdom in a multitude of counsel.” — Larry Stockstill

4.    Watch Them In Action.

  • We used to have two stacks of papers in our mail room that were set aside for any prospective employee to staple together while we processed their application. If they refused menial labor or did it in a sloppy way, we had our answer. 
  • Some organizations even put a prospective person through a two-hour “simulation” of the pressures and decisions necessary to accomplish a job before they hire them.

5.    Pray About Everything.

  • I read once of a great man of God who would pray about a decision with the thought, “It does not matter to me one way or the other.  Lord, give me peace about the right direction.”
  • Some situations are just too “disguised” to discern.  Only the Holy Spirit can give you an “unsettled” feeling in your spirit.  FOLLOW IT.  You will find out later why the Spirit did not give you release.

Follow these guidelines.  Pray for discernment.  Listen to your spirit.  Listen to your friends and authority.  Postpone an emotional decision.


Written by Pastor Larry Stockstill. Visit Pastor Larry’s blog at Follow Pastor Larry on Twitter @larrystockstill and Facebook /larrystockstill

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