Never go to a spiritual director for financial advice. Not only would it be unethical for us to offer it, most of us would be pretty bad at it—it uses a whole different part of the brain. However, it is common for people to come to spiritual direction to discern how God is leading them to use their resources in the world. Here are some discernment principles spiritual directors use to help directees consider money matters in discernment:
Steep your whole process in prayer.
Are you praying for guidance? Taking long pauses as you work to listen and pay attention to the Spirit’s movement in your heart? At each point in your discernment, stop and ask “What does God desire for me (or this family) right now?
Be open to where God leads in your discernment.
This is the hardest principle to put into practice, but crucial to good discernment. As you discern, ask yourself if you can really be at peace with whatever comes from this time of sifting, sorting, praying and choosing? Opening ourselves to new possibilities or to ones we previously found disagreeable is spiritually freeing. If you feel you cannot be open to any outcome, pray for the grace to practice openness.
Notice your heart’s deepest desire.
Faithful choices are made from a place of deep gratitude and desire. They may not be easy choices, but they need to feel peaceful and inspired. Take time to pay attention to your deepest desires and cherish them as gifts from God.
Consider all the facts and practical issues.
This is critical, especially when thinking about stewardship of resources. Keep in mind all that you have—the abundance as well as the limitations—and pray for guidance on how it should be allocated.
Consider those who are poor, forgotten and hurting.
This was an important principle for St. Ignatius, who suggested you always ask yourself how your discernment is affecting “the least of these, my brothers and sisters.” How do you want the stewardship of your resources to reach out to a hurting world?
At the right time, make a choice. Don’t “discern it to death.”
Although good discernment takes time, it’s not an excuse to procrastinate. If you are waiting for certainty, forget it. Seek clarity instead. And just because we discern well doesn’t mean we never make mistakes. But having prayed and sifted and sorted as best we can, we need to take the leap of faith and act. That way we can sit with our choice for awhile and evaluate it.
Use the rearview mirror to evaluate the choice.
Good discernment is evaluated later, based on whether or not it produces “fruit of the Spirit.”Not that every choice we make will be met immediately with hearts and flowers, but finding God’s desire for us does usually, in the long run, produce lasting peace, joy, love, kindness and mercy. If you evaluate your choice and find it has produced lasting chaos, anxiety, mean-spiritedness and heartache, then definitely more discernment is called for.
If you are interested in learning more about spiritual direction or entering spiritual direction with me, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit . Also visit my website for the Phoenix Center for Spiritual Direction.