• Post category:Faithbased

The Importance of Spiritual Discernment

In the hustle and bustle of today’s world, marked by anxiety, violence, and a deteriorating human spirit, many of us seek deeper meaning, awareness, and a lasting connection. Faith-based nonprofits, at their pinnacle, make decisions grounded in spiritual discernment. Regardless of our affiliation with a particular faith tradition, the quest for profound insight and a compassion and social justice become our refuge in making a positive impact on ourselves and our community.

Recognizing the intrinsic capacity for awe and wonder in being human, spirituality is more than a crutch or a belief in a distant deity. It cultivates greater kindness, emotional well-being, and a profound connection to the divine. Spirituality acknowledges our need for inspiration from a higher life force, a power beyond ourselves, a deep well within.

One powerful discipline for spiritual discernment, especially in faith-based groups, is Lectio Divina, also known as “Divine Reading.” Originating in the Benedictine monastic tradition in the Sixth Century CE, Lectio Divina combines the reading of sacred text with prayer, contemplation, and the sharing of insights.

Exploring Lectio Divina

First Reading: After centering prayer and meditation in small groups, a designated person reads a chosen passage aloud. Participants listen attentively, identifying a word, image, or phrase that resonates with them. A moment of silence follows, and each person shares their chosen element without further comment.

Second Reading: Before the second reading, a thought-provoking, open-ended question is posed, relevant to the passage and the participants’ lives. For instance:

  • What light needs to break forth in you like the dawn?
  • What yoke needs to be broken in your life?
  • What healing must spring up quickly in your community?

Following the question, the passage is read again, and after a brief silence, participants share their responses, limiting themselves to a minute or two each.

Third Reading: During the third reading, participants are invited to reflect on the question: “What does God invite you to do, be, or change through this passage?”

Alternatively, for a communal emphasis, “What does God invite us to do, be, or change through this passage?” Each person shares their responses, delving deeper into the transformations needed in their lives and community.

Lectio Divina typically concludes with a group prayer, cementing the collective experience.

This profound practice can kickstart planning retreats, conferences, or board meetings. It also serves as a foundation for regular study groups, invoking the role of the Holy in the life and practice of faith-based communities.

About Mark Smutny and Civic Reinventions, Inc.

Mark Smutny, a nonprofit consultant, professional facilitator, diversity and inclusion specialist, and Founder of Civic Reinventions, Inc., brings his expertise to various sectors, including human services, health and wellness, transportation, affordable housing, homelessness services, business, residents’ associations, civic advocacy, and faith-based organizations. He facilitates planning retreats, strategic plans, and workshops, imparting inclusive meeting practices rooted in empathy, social justice, and the dignity of all.

His book, “Thrive: The Facilitator’s Guide to Radically Inclusive Meetings, 2nd ed.,” provides powerful tools

for greater productivity and mission success through inclusive practices. If you’re interested in integrating inclusive practices into your nonprofit, reach out to Mark via email at mark.smutny@civicreinventions.com. Share your challenges, pain points, or success stories, and Mark will personally respond to each inquiry.