Before the New Year holiday I wrote part one of this posting on choosing counsel wisely. Here is a brief recap of the highest points of the blog.
- The first and most important element is that the counsel be centered on the Word of God, the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16
- It is critical that the problem you bring to the counseling table is defined biblically. 1 Corinthians 2:12-16
- Your biblical counselor will be willing to tell you the hard things, to point out the areas of your life that are being affected by your sinful actions and she will help you to understand the critical role the heart plays in your problems. Jeremiah 17:9
- The person you choose to minister to you should demonstrate humility as a primary character quality. Philippians 2
Anyone you choose to allow to speak into your life ought to exemplify godly character. She should be tenderhearted and compassionate toward you.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15 (NASB)
A “professional” counselor is taught not to become involved with their client but to keep it strictly sterile so as not to cause transference. A Biblical Counselor is not bound by such nonsense and is encouraged to disciple in love and to develop a relationship with their counselee/disciple. This is why I have the freedom to weep with my counselee’s sorrows and joys. As a point aside, there is a fine and necessary line between sympathy and empathy and frankly, I tend to go more toward empathy myself. I find that many counselee’s tend toward self-pity and it is better to empathize with their situation than encourage sinful feelings that feed self-pity.
Because what a Biblical Counselor does is intensive discipleship is exactly the reason why she must be a person of godly character for she speaks into the life of the person she is ministering to.
Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NASB)
Paul did not set himself up as a perfect man (Phil. 3:12) but as one who was reaching for the goal of Christlikeness. He was honest about his difficulties and his failures as he walked through life and yet he had the courage to tell others to follow his example. Paul was relentless in his pursuit of Christ and being conformed into His image and was what I consider to be a “real” or authentic Christian.
This is what I personally strive toward. I believe a good biblical counselor will be honest with those she serves about her own spiritual growth and change as well as her failures. There are no perfect Christians on earth and Paul encourages us to be imperfect examples for one another; providing examples of progressive sanctification as we are pursuing righteousness and holiness in our own lives. This is what Paul modeled for the church. A good biblical counselor will be a living example of growing in Christlikeness through the ups and downs of daily living. Oh how difficult this is!
She should be an example in her speech; truthful and kind, without the foul language that is so common today.
Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE OF YOU WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. BE ANGRY, AND YET DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:25- 29 (NASB)
Her conduct should be fitting for a Christian. She should be virtuous, faithful to her husband or faithful in abstaining from sexual immorality of any kind. She should demonstrate inward and outward discipline, be winsome and gracious in her dealings with people.
Whew this is a mighty tall order for a human being, a sinful one at that! I am thankful that once again Paul encourages the encourager with these words:
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 (NASB)
I am going to continue with this same thread tomorrow.