Discernment | FP 115

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On this therapist podcast, Whitney Owens talks about, Discernment?

What can discernment do for your decision-making? Where do you feel God’s presence throughout your day at work? How can you bring God into your business?

In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens speaks about Discernment; how to include God in your decisions, and where to look for guidance.

Podcast Sponsor: Brighter Vision

An image of Brighter Vision Web Solutions is featured as the sponsor on The Practice of the Practice Podcast, a therapist podcast. Brighter Vision builds all in one websites for therapists.

When you’re in private practice it can be tough to find the time to review your marketing efforts and make improvements where needed.

Whether you are a seasoned clinician whose current website needs to be revamped, or a new therapist building a website for the first time, Brighter Vision is here to help.

By first understanding your practice and what makes it unique, Brighter Vision’s team of developers will create you a custom website catered to your specific marketing goals. Better yet, they provide unlimited technical support to make sure it stays updated, and professional search engine optimization to make sure you rank high in online searches – all at no additional cost.

To get started for $100 off, head to brightervision.com/joe.

In This Podcast

  • Discernment
  • Valuable questions to discern God’s voice
  • Where do you feel God’s presence?


When I think of discernment, this is our ability to understand God’s direction in our personal lives, and what God is doing in the world around us. (Whitney Owens)

As a business owner, you are making business decisions every day. Even though some are smaller than others, each decision can take your practice one step forward.

Therefore, being cognizant of the Lord and his presence around you while you work on your business is a powerful guiding tool that you can use to make sure that you take your practice in its best direction.

Valuable questions to discern God’s voice

What does the scripture have to say about your decision or situation?

Are there any themes within your situation that maybe relate to a bible passage, or relate to a story from the bible? When you are searching for answers, make sure to be open to receiving ideas and see if any stories come to mind that resonate with your situation.

I want you to check the scriptures, pray, and see if there’s something that pops out to you related to the situation that you’re going through or maybe a verse that can bring you some guidance and see if you can ponder [it] as you try to make decisions. (Whitney Owens)

What does the church say about your situation?

What does the history of Christianity have to say? Which similar decisions have been made by other Christians who were in this context?

Speak with a group of people from your community that you trust and see what comes up. Follow up with your pastor and people that you revere for advice or guidance.

What does reason have to say?

What does your mind have to tell you about this decision? Make a pros’ and cons’ list about the situation and figure out what the benefits and potential negatives could be.

What does your heart say?

How does your body respond when you ask yourself this question; are you nervous, excited, cautious, curious? Work with your intuition as well and the wisdom of feeling.

Think about your past experiences with God and how you made decisions with him.

Where do you feel God’s presence?

Maybe that’s God leading you in a direction that you need to make some changes in … so start paying attention as you go through your day, what feels good and what doesn’t? (Whitney Owens)

The Holy Spirit lives within you and directs you in life as well.

Notice how you feel when you align with your actions, living intentionally and consciously, and see where you feel his presence, as well as where you feel his absence. Work in the places where He is alongside you.

Books mentioned in this episode:

Useful links mentioned in this episode:

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Meet Whitney Owens

Photo of Christian therapist Whitney Owens. Whitney helps other christian counselors grow faith based private practices!Whitney is a licensed professional counselor and owns a growing group practice in Savannah, Georgia. Along with a wealth of experience managing a practice, she also has an extensive history working in a variety of clinical and religious settings, allowing her to specialize in consulting for faith-based practices and those wanting to connect with religious organizations.

Knowing the pains and difficulties surrounding building a private practice, she started this podcast to help clinicians start, grow, and scale a faith-based practice. She has learned how to start and grow a successful practice that adheres to her own faith and values. And as a private practice consultant, she has helped many clinicians do the same.

Visit her website and listen to her podcast here. Connect on Instagram or join the Faith in Practice Facebook group. Email her at [email protected]

Thanks For Listening!

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Faith in Practice is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts that are changing the world. To hear other podcasts like Empowered and Unapologetic, Bomb Mom, Imperfect Thriving, Marketing a Practice or Beta Male Revolution, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.

Podcast Transcription

Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. I’m your host Whitney Owens recording live from Savannah, Georgia. I’m a licensed professional counselor, group practice owner, and private practice consultant. Each week through personal story or amazing interviews, I will help you learn how to start, grow and scale your practice from a faith-based perspective. I will show you how to have an awesome faith-based practice without being cheesy or fake. You too can have a successful practice, make lots of money, and be true to yourself.

Welcome, and thanks for hanging out with me again here on the Faith in Practice podcast. If you’re new, welcome to the show. I’ll help you learn about starting, growing, delegating, and helping you in your faith-based practice. For those of you who’ve been listening for a while, I really appreciate it. Please share the podcast with other faith-based practice owners that we can all grow together.

Over the next few weeks, I am doing solo shows all around spiritual formation growth. As we know our practices are influenced by our own spiritual growth, but our practices also change us. They mold us. So we want to acknowledge that and then we also want to grow in our own spiritual development so that we can have the best practices possible to meet the needs of the clients around us. So today’s episode, we be talking about discernment and I’m going to walk you through some questions that you can use in the discernment process, maybe share some stories of times that I’ve had to rely on God and listen and wait on discernment.

But before we jump into the episode, I wanted to talk a few minutes about my recent weekend away. Even though this episode will be airing in December, I’m recording here at the end of October, mostly because I want to get the episodes out so I can relax a little bit more during the holiday season with my family. But I also wanted to talk about the recent weekend that I had here in October we did Killin’It Camp, which is a practice conference that we do for Practice of the Practice. Unfortunately, we did have to do a virtual conference this year with COVID, but it was such a good weekend.

I loved that the very beginning, Joe introduced and said really listen to yourself and listen to what you feel like your body needs during these few days. Yes, I do tend to be a super loyal person. I tend to do exactly what’s required of me. In most circumstances I would’ve sat and done the conference, but as I heard him say this, it was like, wow, my soul needs community. It has been a dark season the past few years as we’ve been going through COVID and I needed a time to be friends. I needed time to talk about my passion, my heart, my business and what I’m doing. So even though I did attend several of the conference sessions, I spent a lot of time with friends.

So we went to Lake Lure, North Carolina, where my good friend, Gordon Brewer has a home there. I loved hearing from him and the history of this home and how his grandfather had owned it and all the family times they had spent there. But then we also had some other people meet us there. We had Jessica Tappana from Simplified SEO Consulting, along with your Gilford from the Doctor Therapist. The four of us spent a few nights together, yes, we worked on our businesses, but we also worked on our friendships. We worked on how to improve ourselves, but also how do we serve the community that’s been put in front of us.

We also had the privilege of meeting some other really amazing people. It just happened to be that Ernesto who was on one of the episodes you heard a few weeks back was also in Asheville. So got to meet him. I met Alison from Abundance Practice Building and I met Jane Carter from Jane Carter Coaching. I love saying her name, Jane Carter. I had her on the podcast a little while back, Alison, I don’t know, it might have been a year or so ago. So it was really cool to be able to meet some people in person and just hear their passion, see how authentic they are. It was just so good for the soul.

We know that the work that we do as therapists can be isolating at times, not only the clinical work, but as you level up, maybe as a consultant or as a speaker or a group practice owner, it gets more and more isolating. So for me, I really needed that time to be silly and have fun and also grow my business with other people that I could really share the nitty gritty, the reality of what it’s like and get encouragement and strength from one another. I say all this to also say that several of these people, Jessica and Gordon, I met through mastermind groups and they changed my life.

They changed my relationships, they changed my practice, they changed the way I do my practice. So I want to encourage you. If you’re looking for a community to do your practice with, grow your faith-based business, please consider joining the Faith in Practice mastermind group. In fact, I just got done leading one of them right before I started podcasting. Two of the girls in the group, I’ll just share these quick testimonies with you guys, this one girl had started the practice with five clients. She had like literally just opened her door, had just left her full-time business and she just said to me a few minutes ago, we haven’t even finished this group, I guess we’re about four months in and she’s already doubled her caseload.

Then another one who was so nervous about joining and putting the money down to join the group and doing private practice, I was like, “You can do it. You can do it.” She joined and now she’s at 18 clients a week. Before, I can’t remember exactly how many she had, but she was not near full and now she’s completely full on clients and she’s working on systems and processes to make it easier for her, for insurance billing and for other things that she needs to do. And now I’m going to brag on the third one. There’s another girl in the group who, when we did our pre-con consulting call, I said, oh, you’ve got to leave your full-time practice when you’re ready, because I think you’re going to have amazing private practice. That was her goal.

So today she told us she left her full-time business, her full-time job, and she’s going to be doing her practice. So it was just really exciting. I love seeing the friendships that develop between them as they are accountability partners and as they stretch one another. It’s just a beautiful thing. So if you’re looking for help growing, scaling, or maybe you’re just looking for community to throw ideas off of, please consider joining the Faith in Practice mastermind. To do that. You can go practiceofthepractice.com/faithinpracticemastermind, or you can do slash apply. You’ll have an apply page where you can fill out an application or just email me, [email protected] and we could talk about you joining the group and what would be best for you. I don’t do pre-con consulting calls and tell people to join unless I really think that this group’s going to be good for them. So we’d love to connect with you on.

All right, so let’s get going in the episode here. I want to talk about discernment. So when I think of discernment, this is our ability to understand God’s direction in our personal lives and what God is doing in the world around us. I mean, we hear people say all the time, what does God want me to do? I need to hear his voice. I need direction. You need discernment. Now we need this, obviously in our personal lives, with our families, decisions that we need to make, but boy, we need this in our business. As a business owner, you were making decisions every single day, some smaller than others, or seem smaller than others, I guess, but every decision puts your practice where it needs to you go.

I mean, if you can think about going on a line and every decision you make takes you a little off the line, a little in a different direction, not to stress out about your decisions, because I think that all things are forgiven and redeemable, but at the same time, I want to stress the importance of being cognizant of the Lord and His presence around you, what He’s doing in your community and what He’s doing through your practice. Now that might just be you as a solo practice and you’re thinking about what is God showing me for direction? How do I work with my clients? Maybe you get some direction on a specific session. I remember moments where I would be sitting with clients and boom, it was like a biblical story came to me or a verse or a song or some kind of illustration and we would like leave the session and the client would say, “That was exactly what I needed to hear. ” I mean, that’s the Lord moving.

But also as a group practice owner, you’re having an impact on the people that you work with, like on your clinicians or on your staff. It’s important that you are able to discern God’s voice. Now, there are a lot of other decisions you might be thinking about. Maybe these are some bigger decisions such as, should I be a consultant or should I start a group practice? Or maybe you’re thinking about, should I take this trip and go speak at this event? There are so many decisions that are in front of you. So I want to walk through some questions that I think are valuable when you’re discerning God’s voice, and this is not an exclusive list, but I think it’s some important things to talk about here.
When you’re in private practice, it can be tough to find the time to review your marketing efforts and make improvements where needed. Whether you’re a seasoned clinician whose current website needs a revamp or a new therapist building website for the first time, Brighter Vision is here to help. By first understanding practice and what makes it unique, Brighter Vision’s team of developers will create a site that caters to your specific marketing goals. Better yet, they provide unlimited technical support to make sure it gets updated and professional search engine optimization to make sure you rank higher in online searches at no additional cost. To get started for a hundred dollars off, head on over to brightervision.com. Again, that’s brightervision.com/joe.
Now these question actually come from my man, John Wesley, who is the father of the Methodist church. I have been a Methodist most of my life. There was a moment I left and did some other things and then I came back to my roots here and we were involved in a very traditional Methodist church here in Savannah. It has been so good for my soul. There it is again, good for the soul as I engage in the hymns and the traditional music and the liturgy that’s found within the Methodist church has been good for me. So I love going to John Wesley and maybe reading sermons or different things that he teaches on because I think there’s something to be said for that deep history in those roots there.

So John Wesley has four questions that he proposes when you are trying to discern God’s voice. So I thought it’d be great for us to address those for a few minutes here today. The first question that I want to propose is what does the scripture have to say about your decision or about your situation? So are there any themes within your situation that maybe relate to a Bible passage or relate to maybe a story or a prodigal, not a prodigal, a story that Jesus shared? Oh, my mind just went blank on that. Any other biblical stories that come together for that? Also think that we want to consider the context of scripture, of course, and the history of how it was written. But I do think there are moments where a passage just jumps out at you, like hits you like a ton of bricks. Maybe it’s not exactly what the passage is saying, but God uses it to speak to you in a clear way.

Now I think I have shared this story on the podcast before, but this is the one coming to me now is as we’re talking. When I was at Slow Down School several years ago and I was walking on a mountain right by the lake, it was just gorgeous. I was thinking, wow, this is so big and so vast. There’s so much importance here. I feel so small compared to how beautiful this is. It was like I heard God’s voice now, not audible, but within my spirit. It was the story of Mary and Martha. Martha focused on so many details and so many things but Mary focused on the big thing. Now, obviously in the passage, it’s talking about Martha being so fixated on preparing things and getting the house ready for the guests and Mary’s the one sitting at Jesus’ feet and doing the thing that matters.

But that passage came to me and that little statement, Martha was doing all these things fixated by the details, but Mary was doing the most important thing, the big thing that mattered and the Lord impressed on my heart that I needed to do consulting. I was running my practice and I love running my practice and the groups going super well and at the time things were going really well, but I had been feeling a nudge to start consulting. I had been very scared, maybe playing Jonah and running away as far as I possibly could. The Lord just was saying, no, I’m asking you to do something a lot bigger and I need you to do it. So in this situation, there was a biblical passage that went along with the very thing that I was trying to discern for months, actually.

So I want you to check the scriptures, pray, see if there’s something that pops out to you related to the situation that you’re going through, or maybe a verse that can bring you some guidance that you can kind of ponder think about as you try to make decisions and as you think through those.

So the next question that I want you to think about is what does the church say? What does the church say about your situation? So when we think about what does the church have to say, what does the history of Christianity have to say? What have we seen from people in the past decisions that they have made and how did they move through those?

What similar decisions have been made by other Christians? Then thinking about people that you trust within the church maybe what does your pastor have to say or close advisors? This is also what was important to me. As I was away at the virtual Killin’It Camp, I had consultants that cared for me, that pray and that care about what the Bible has to say and are able to really speak into my life. That would be what the church has to say. The church doesn’t necessarily have to just be, your a physical church, your physical community, but just the community of Christ in general. I’d like to hope, or I guess I do hope that when you listen to this podcast, that things that are said speak to your heart. That’s a way that you’re able to say, what does the church have to say?

Because I’m a part of the church and I hope that the Lord uses this to speak to you or other podcasts that you listen to that are faith-based in nature. Yes, maybe asking yourself if you have a spiritual director or maybe you have a therapist that you see, what are they suggesting that you do in your situation? So this is a way that we’re asking ourselves, what does the church have to say? And I was thinking about just decisions as entrepreneurs. Boy, I feel like I get a million ideas all the time.

So I take those ideas and I’m like, gosh, how do I decide which thing I should go in, which direction I should go in? Because all of them seem like good ideas? I was reading through, now of course, one of the reasons we’re talking about discernment is I’m reading Henry Nouwen’s book on discernment. I absolutely love his stuff. He had this section here that made me think about entrepreneurs. I’m just going to read it because it’s easier to read for you. “I know that sometimes a call from God is planted in our imagination and if it persists, we need to bring others into the summit process to test if it’s something to pursue or just a diversion.”

I felt that way when I have an idea in my mind, maybe it’s creating a podcast, maybe it’s starting a mastermind group. Maybe it’s adding another clinician to the practice or wanting to speak at an event. So I get these ideas and I’m thinking through them, and then it’s taking that idea and presenting it to other people to find out, is this something that God really wants me to do? So if it’s persisting within you, that’s when you want to listen and that’s when you want to take it to others and you want to look at the scriptures and what it has to say about it.

So the second one there is about the church and what does the church have to say? Then the third one that I want to look at here is this is so important reason. What does reason have to say? What does my mind tell me? This is when we tell people, make a positive and negative list. Maybe what’s the return on investment? Okay, well, what’s the ROI, the time, the money, the energy? These are the really logical pieces that we want to put in here.

So some people I find are way too logical and they don’t listen to their gut and what the holy spirit might be directing them in. Then we find some people that are the opposite. They’re always listening to their gut and what they think God’s leading into even though it might look like a poor decision logically. I do think there’s an element that sometimes our decisions don’t look logical and sometimes God asks to take a risk that doesn’t seem to make sense, but more often than not, God seems to be pretty logical, pretty smart, truthful.

So when you’re coming to make a decision, I do want you to be logical about it and then present that logic back to God and say, “Hey, here are the things that I think are positive and negative about this.: I mean, for example, if you feel like you’re supposed to go do something or a direction in your business, but it’s going to take you away from your family and the responsibilities that you already have, that wouldn’t be the most logical thing to do. You might want to consider that.

So for example, I recently changed my work schedule because my kids needed me more at home. So yes, I could have filled up on more clients or I could have done more work but the logical thing to do was to be more available for my kids because they need to be able to get to meetings and do different things that they need to do. I also just want to say here that don’t get paralyzed by perfection or thinking there’s one right way or only one way that God wants you to do something.

I think there are lots of ways that God might want you to do something as long as you’re doing what He’s asking you to do. So that example I just shared with you, it’s like, yes, I felt like I needed to leave early to be there for my kids. But at the same time I could hire a nanny and they could be there for my kids. That’s okay too. As long as I’m able to meet the responsibilities and do the things that the Lord’s put in front of me. So consider reason and logic when you’re making a decision.

Then the last one here is what does your heart say? When I think of my heart, I think of my gut. So what are my emotions, my heart say? How does my body respond when I think about the decisions that need to be made? So thinking about your past experiences with God, how did you make decisions then, how did he direct you then? Is that similar to how you might be feeling now in your direction? Where do you feel God’s presence? Maybe you’re thinking through ending a relationship. This could be romantic friendships on anything. When you’re with that person and you just feel icky, maybe that’s a sign that that’s not a good relationship, or when you’re with that person, if you feel whole and you feel good in your spirit and you find that they help you be better person, then that’s probably a relationship you need to stay in.

So this is the same idea. We find a lot of times with group practice owners, they see clients, but then as they grow their group, they just less and less want to see clients and they feel guilty about that. But to tell you the truth, maybe that’s God leading you in a direction, you need to make some changes in this way. So start paying attention as you go through your day, what feels good and what doesn’t, because the Holy Spirit lives within you and He directs you when you’re open to it.

So let me run back through these questions. These are the John Wesley questions of what does the scripture say? What does the church say? What does reason say? What does my heart say? I hope that you find these helpful to you as you look at making different decisions within your business. I would be honored if you shot me an email. If you’re listening to this and something is coming up for you, I would love to hear about that and decisions that you’re making within your practice. We all need to grow from one another and I always am growing from you guys and growing from the people in my mastermind group, giving me feedback and through the membership communities. It means so much to me to be able to communicate with you guys. So as we end our time together, my prayer for you is that the Lord would direct your steps and give you discernment as you make decision in your life. Thank you for spending your time with me today.

Again, we want to thank our sponsor Brighter Vision for being with us today. If you’re interested in getting a hundred dollars off of a new website, or you just need a revamp on your current website, head on over to brightervision.com/joe.

Thank you for listening to the Faith in Practice podcast. If you love this podcast, please rate and review on iTunes or your favorite podcast player. If you liked this episode and want to know more, check out the Practice of the Practice website. Also there, you can learn more about me, options for working together, such as individual and in group consulting, or just shoot me an email, [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you.

This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, Practice of the Practice, or the guests are providing legal, mental health, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one.