The tricky decision and the path of discernment

discernment beyond my culture

Brain fog.


Thoughts going in circles.

Stuck on one issue.

What ifs?

I was struggling for over a month with a tricky decision about a work issue. It felt like all my “thought energy” was going into this issue.

If I chose Option A, would a local South Asian family be offended? Worse, if the family viewed my decision negatively, would they view the Prince of Peace negatively?

And what about Option B? Would this decision result in me being stretched to breaking point? Was there are Option C? Or maybe an Option D?

Can you feel my tension? 

Have you ever struggled like that? What did you do? How did you discern what path to take?

Well, I prayed to the Prince of Peace. I looked to Scripture for help, discussed the issue with a more experienced cross-cultural worker, and searched professional journals for relevant research. I asked a colleague back in Australia for her insights. One month later, and I still had no idea on the best way forward.

No. idea. at. all.

Then, last week, almost as a last resort, I asked a pastoral care worker from my sending organisation for advice. His advice was perfect: “There are cross-cultural nuances in the situation you are facing. Can you get advice from a South Asian?” Well, of course I could! Why hadn’t I done that before? Why hadn’t I thought to share my struggle with an older, wiser South Asian believer?

I like to think of myself as a Cross-Cultural Learner (with capital letters). I like to think that I am Intentional (with a capital I) in learning from those who have grown up in this country. I say that I value partnership with local believers. I am blessed with South Asian mentors who are willing to patiently sit with me. Yet, when I had an excellent learning opportunity, I almost missed it. 

Proverbs 15:22 says “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors, they succeed.” There is wisdom present here in South Asia… but I need to seek it. There are wise advisors present here in South Asia… but I need to ask for advice. There is a path of discernment… but it will take me beyond my culture. 

I added that difficult work issue to a list of questions to ask my local mentor. As we sat on her sofa, drinking hot, sweet tea, I shared the difficult decision I was struggling with. I shared my tension, my concerns, and my fears. The resulting conversation was one of the richest cross-cultural learning discussions I’ve had so far. My tension lifted.

The Prince of Peace answered my prayers and taught me a valuable lesson: when I am lost in a cross-cultural crisis, He has placed others around me – sometimes literally – to guide me on the path to discernment.

Who are the wise advisors that God has put in your life?

Photo by Sebin Thomas on Unsplash

1 Comment

  1. Ashley Felder May 14, 2019

    Yes! I think we often forget that the locals we are serving can also be used to serve us! We put ourselves on a pedestal, thinking we need to be doling out the wisdom and counsel, but I’m slowly learning I need to be doing quite the opposite…humbly listening, observing, and asking for their input. Well said!

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