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Using the Spiritual Practice of Discernment to Make Secular Decisions

Ascension Health is the nation’s largest Catholic, nonprofit health care company, with 2008 revenue of $13.5 billion. And Ascension Health makes its major decisions on the basis of a spiritual practice called discernment. Since 2003, the practice of spiritual discernment has been used at the highest executive level to lead the Ascension executive team to consensus on all major corporate decisions. An article on the website of Faith & Leadership, an offering of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, explores the process of discernment as practiced by Ascension Health. It outlines the indicators that rule out the use of discernment to make a decision, the way decisions reached through discernment differ from other decisions, and the conditions that lead to the successful use of discernment in making decisions.

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