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Moral Decision Making and Real-Life Applications

About this article

The LISTEN process is a decision making model that students can use in real life. This article outlines the six components and accompanying questions which can lead students into a deeper understanding of informed conscience.

If you have used the Saint Mary's Press textbook Growing in Christian Morality, then you're familiar with the LISTEN process for making moral decisions. The process is introduced in the textbook and is used throughout the companion student casebook. LISTEN is an acronym for the steps in a decision-making process:

Look for the facts
Imagine possibilities
Seek insight beyond your own
Turn inward
Expect God's help
Name your decision

You can help your students apply the process to situations they face in their own lives, but you can also offer these steps as a tool for working with current events. Wrestling with moral dilemmas drawn from news reports can help students hone their moral decision-making skills. Some current events challenge all of us to weigh in on the pro or con side of an issue; students can use the LISTEN process as they formulate an authentic, values-based response to the news reports. As young people learn the steps of the process, they learn that decision making is both a skill and an art, and that a great number of factors contribute to any moral dilemma.

The LISTEN Process

Look for the facts

  1. What facts do I need to know to make a good decision?
  2. What exactly is going on in this situation?
  3. Why is it happening?
  4. Who is involved?
  5. Why are they involved?
  6. What are their motives?
  7. When is this situation happening?
  8. Is there a time frame involved with this situation?
  9. Where is this situation happening?

Imagine possibilities

  1. What are all the possible choices I could make in this situation?
  2. What are the consequences, short- and long-term, for each possible decision?
  3. What is the most loving response I could have in this situation?
  4. How can I be creative in my approach to this decision?

Seek insight beyond your own

  1. What would my family advise me to do?
  2. What would my friends and community say I should do?
  3. Is there a legal issue involved?
  4. What would Jesus do?
  5. What does the Bible say about this situation?
  6. How could the values in the Ten Commandments or Beatitudes lead me to a good decision in this situation?
  7. What is the church teaching on this matter?

Turn inward

  1. What is my inner reality saying to me?
  2. What is my conscience telling me?
  3. What are my personal feelings about this situation?
  4. What are my motives for acting one way or another?
  5. What do I need from the decision I make?
  6. What do I most want from the decision I make?
  7. What does my gut-level sense of things say about this?
  8. Do I have an intuitive understanding of this situation?

Expect God's help

  1. How is God present in this situation?
  2. How is God with me as I discern what I should do?
  3. What can I pray for as I make this decision?

Name Your Decision

  1. What am I going to decide?
  2. Why should I decide this?
  3. What values am I living out in making this decision?
  4. What is my plan for carrying out this decision?


Copyright © 2009 Saint Mary's Press. Permission is granted for this article to be freely used for classroom or campus ministry purposes; however, it may not be republished in any form without the explicit permission of Saint Mary's Press. For more resources to support your ministry, call 800-533-8095 or visit our Web site at www.smp.org.

Published April 2, 2002.