Subject Area

Theology/Religious Education



Churches and ministries need to identify and recruit effective leaders. Employing the gift of discerning of spirits can help ministries identify quality leaders and avoid problems and pitfalls. This project aims to equip Pastors and Church Leaders to rediscover and utilize discerning of spirits in their leadership selection process. The significance of this project is that although there has been much written about spiritual gifts, little has been written specifically about the Discerning of Spirits and its application to leadership recruitment and development in modern ministry. It offers church and ministry leaders another avenue to recover and utilize the gift of Discerning of Spirits to better serve their ministry contexts. This project argues that there is a historical, Biblical/Theological and pragmatic rationale for employing the gift of Discerning of Spirits as a tool for Pastors and Ministry Leaders to identify committed and effective ministry leaders. A historical analysis of Bernard of Clairvaux, Hildegard of Bingen and Ignatius of Loyola reveal their encounters with and uses of discerning of spirits that leaders can use today. Each experienced the charism in different and unique ways and provided original and useful insights into the gift. A hermeneutical study of 1 Cor. 12:10 reveals that in discernment of spirits the main action, the discerning, is accomplished by the Holy Spirit who then shares that information with the gifted person. It was found that the gift is not specifically connected prophecy and false prophecy, nor is it intended as the instrument for testing the spirits in 1 John 4:1. The definition of discerning of spirits was provided with a discussion of how charismatic gifts work in general. With regard to how gifts are obtained, the principle of Ask-Seek-Knock with a scriptural analysis was offered as well the idea that the Spirit gives gifts to whom He wills. The method of how the charismata work and ways God communicates is expounded with a special emphasis on the physical body as an instrument of discernment. Finally discerning of spirits is presented as a practical tool for ministry, choosing leaders, the necessity of a ministry team in the process, and as a means to identify and avoid problems.

Degree Date

Spring 5-14-2022

Document Type


Degree Name





Dr. Ruben Habito

Second Advisor

Dr. James K. Lee



Ministry Leadership

Discerning of Spirits

Affective Information

Ignatius of Loyola

Hildegard Von Bingen

Bernard of Clairvaux

Spiritual Gifts

Charismatic Gifts


Emotional Intelligence

Spiritual Intelligence

Number of Pages




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License