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October 14, 2015

The Importance of Discernment in Choosing a Leader.

Kheel Center, Flickr

Some of us are deeply immersed in a state of confusion.

About ourselves, fear over global conflict, climate change, water shortages and a human condition that to some bears a close resemblance to self-sabotage as a species.

I am a firm believer that the answers to the questions about how to create change in any manner whatsoever, start within.

They start within all of us.

I also firmly believe that most of us believe that as well. But, many of us feel lost. We don’t know how to find these answers within ourselves. There are so many people in positions of leadership—presenting themselves as gurus—that we can feel scrambled.

Many of us feel a sense of urgency when it comes to finding direction. We want to take some steps, marching collectively toward something different—something that feels healthier, balanced and sustainable for both our inner and outer worlds.

When we have no idea how to get there, we can feel thirsty for guidance.

Recently, I have seen messages from teachers, self-proclaimed gurus and people who hold places of power in both influence and voice, that are disturbing to me.

This is applicable to both spiritual leadership and conventional leadership as political processes are in place, internationally, which many of us see through clearly.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of discernment during these times.

I do my best not to form my own assumptions when it comes to the intentions of others—but some of what I am seeing is a blatant misuse of power. Sometimes this can seem rather obvious, and other times it is subtle, which makes things even more difficult.

Yes, this issue goes way back—maybe as far back as time—but today it seems easier with reach of social media and how easy it has become to be heard.

Everyone is motivated by something—be it something healthy that comes from a place of love and compassion, or something very different. Some are motivated by power and money amongst other ego-driven ideals.

Most of my life, I have been desperately seeking guidance and answers to many big question. I have chosen to follow some who have led me to listen to myself and discern my own truth if their message doesn’t feel authentic.

I am aware of teachers and self-professed spiritual leaders on social media right now who are not in this to inspire positive change, but rather to inspire others to see them as something better. They want to be seen as more worthy when it comes to their knowledge and wisdom and this does nothing but disempower those who are following them.

Things really changed for me in an epic way when I found some heart-driven teachers—teachers who refused to answer my questions, but rather taught me to dig deep and answer them for myself.

A leader or teacher who is authentic will never say “follow me.” Rather, they will teach you to follow yourself.

True leaders will not put themselves in a place of power in order to be seen or heard, nor will they take your power away. Instead they will do their best to empower you.

We all have intuition. We are all the same when it comes down to it—nobody is any better or worse. We vary in the ways that our experience influences our perceptions, and our perceptions influence our experience, but in the bigger picture of our existence, even these variations are minimal.

Discernment is a form of self-love.

We should pay attention to that quiet voice within when it comes to how these leaders, teachers and gurus make us feel.

We have all been on a constant learning and feedback curve since the day we were born—taking in and putting out information. We are all teachers, and we are all students.

It is when we feel lost, or even desperate for growth or change that it becomes crucial to listen, not hear.

Listen to what people say—whether it is an older man at a coffee shop or an Instagram celebrity with thousands of followers.

We can listen to what they say, then we can listen to ourselves. Discernment comes into play as we decide if what they are saying rings true for us on a soul-deep level.

We can choose to have a filter of discernment when it comes to what any leader, teacher or “guru” tells us. On the other hand it is important to maintain an open mind and choose what we align with without prejudging them.

We can remain centered and hold our power by passing their wisdom, teachings and leadership through our own filter of discernment.

We can taste their messages and chew on them for a bit. Then we can discern their nutritional content—the soul-nourishing truth of their words and the purity of their intentions—on some level we all recognise these things.

Sometimes it may just be a sentence, or even a word that they say which can stand out to us for years. Or it might be their way of living or being or seeing the world that teaches us. We can use these things as stepping stones back to the wealth of wisdom that we have had all along.

We can choose our teachers and we can choose our leaders and we can choose wisely.

Even if these people are not those in the highest places of conventional power, there is power in truth.

Find those people who do their best to both speak truth and empower you. Choose a few or choose many, but stay true to you and what you do know—love yourself enough to discern.

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Relephant read:

The Power of Enlightened Leadership.

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Author: Katie Vessel

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

Image: Kheel Centre/ Flickr

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