Women in Biblical Counseling Series
Interview with Julie Ganschow,Executive Director of Reigning Grace Counseling Center and Biblical Counseling for Women
This is the first interview, by Ellen Castillo, in a series of posts featuring women who are biblical counselors. Each post will feature one or more counselors who have agreed to an interview to tell us about their ministries, their experience and expertise, and the history of their involvement in biblical counseling.
We trust that you will find this series informative and insightful. Many women have asked what opportunities might be open to them upon obtaining either a degree or certification in biblical counseling. As the biblical counseling movement expands, so do the opportunities for women to serve in a variety of ways as biblical counselors. Over the course of this series, you will hear from women who serve vocationally, as volunteers, in their churches, in a parachurch organization, in colleges, and a variety of other areas where they are serving around the globe.
Today we are sharing an interview with Biblical Counseling for Women’s own Julie Ganschow. Julie is an IABC, ACBC, and AABC Certified Biblical Counselor. She also has a B.A. in Biblical Counseling.
Q: Julie, please tell us about yourself:
A: I have been married for 25 years. I have 3 married sons and one granddaughter. I live in Kansas City, Missouri. My hobbies and interests outside of ministry are being in the Rocky Mountains, visiting National Parks with my husband, reading good books, and remodeling our home. I am nearly finished with my MABC from Masters University, and am looking forward to beginning my doctorate.
Q: Do you work in vocational ministry, or volunteer ministry?
A: I am in full-time vocational ministry. I serve at Reigning Grace Counseling Center, a biblical counseling, discipling, and training ministry. We are affiliated with my local church and we are also a non-profit ministry.
Q: Can you please describe your ministry position?
A: I am the founder and Director of Reigning Grace Counseling Center. In addition to my ministry of biblical counseling and discipleship, I am an instructor in our training program, and I direct the daily operations of the center.
Q: How long have you been a biblical counselor?
A: I have been counseling biblically since the 1990’s when I was a women’s ministry director. I received formal training along the way.
Q: How did you get interested in becoming a biblical counselor? What drew you into the ministry?
A: Women in the Bible studies I was leading began asking me about how to handle issues in their lives and marriages, and for help in parenting. I realized that while I had a strong grasp on the Bible, I needed to understand how to help people make application of its truths in specific circumstances and situations.
Q: Could you please give us a history of your experience as a biblical counselor?
A: I began informally counseling the women I was teaching in Bible study. When we changed churches, I was asked to begin a Women Helping Women counseling ministry. From there I was invited to be a staff counselor at a new biblical counseling center that was opening in a different local church. This experience helped me to grow and develop my skills in a number of areas. I became a better speaker, author, and most importantly a better biblical counselor.
Q: Do you have particular areas of expertise?
A: Yes. I am not well equipped in counseling teens, but I am learning and growing there. For all the rest I am very well equipped. I have authored a number of books on a variety of Biblical Counseling issues. I have maintained the Biblical Counseling for Women blog since 2008.
Q: Is there anything particularly unique or unusual about how you serve in ministry?
A: By virtue of being a woman who founded a biblical counseling center, I would say yes. It is a delicate balance to work with pastors and churches as the head of a fairly substantial counseling center.
Q: Do you partner with male counselors or pastors in your ministry? In what ways? What advantages does male partnership bring to your ministry?
A: Yes. There are presently 3 male biblical counselors on my staff. My pastor is also a partner because we are a ministry of our church. I interact frequently with pastors from other churches as well. Partnering with men brings an important dynamic into the ministry. There is no way our female staff could do marriage counseling without the men, and they provide a balance to our staff.
Q: Do you partner with other female counselors, and in what ways? What advantages does female partnership bring to your ministry?
A: I take every opportunity to talk and interact with other women who are Biblical Counselors from both inside and outside of Reigning Grace Counseling Center. They provide friendship and camaraderie, sharpening and the ability to learn from one another.
Q: What unique strengths and advantages do you believe that women bring to a counseling ministry?
A: The perspective that men cannot possibly have on women’s issues. No matter how compassionate the man, he simply does not know what it is like to be a woman.
Q: Please describe any hardship or challenges that you have faced as a woman in ministry.
A: Having my counsel questioned in abuse or marriage counseling issues because I am a woman, as though I am biased against men.
Q: What women have most heavily influenced you as a biblical counselor?
A: Elyse Fitzpatrick
Q: What men have most heavily influenced you as a biblical counselor?
A: David Powlison, Heath Lambert, Bruce Roeder
Q: What counseling or ministry resources specific to women do you find most helpful?
A: “Because He Loves Me” and “Idols of the Heart” – both by Elyse Fitzpatrick. She brings clarity to very difficult issues in a straightforward manner, supported by the Word of God.
Q: How do you stay current as a counselor?
A: My educational pursuits have me VERY current, as do conferences, listening to podcasts, and reading blogs and books.
Q: What unique ways do you serve other than providing 1:1 counseling?
A: Speaking engagements, consulting other ministries, and authoring books.
Q: When you first became a biblical counselor, what do you wish you had known then that you know now?
A: The importance the heart plays in growing and changing.
Q: What would you like to say to any women considering becoming a Biblical Counselor?
A: LEARN, LEARN, LEARN, grow and change, make personal application to yourself before others. Talk to those of us who have gone before you and get as much advice and counsel as you can.
Q: We all must count the cost of ministry. What has ministry cost you?
A: Oh my, my siblings disdain me and my life choice to serve and follow Christ. Also, untold financial implications – there is no money in Biblical Counseling.
Q: What blessings has your ministry brought you?
A: More than I can count. I would not change or trade what I have for anything on earth.
To watch people be changed by the power of God is indescribable.
Q: How has being a counselor benefited your own walk with The Lord?
A: I trust His sovereignty, relish the love He has for His children, and delight in His Word.
Q: Do you have a ‘ministry verse’ for your ministry that you find most meaningful? If so, why is it special to you?
A: Jude 24. God will keep His own and present us to God Himself. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Q: Are there things you would like to do as a biblical counselor but have not done yet?
A: Yes. I have my personal “bucket list.” There is one place I would love to speak, and I have not yet been asked. I would like to actually write the 3 books I still have in my head.
Q: In what ways have you grown as a counselor since the beginning of your ministry?
A: The greatest growth is in the realm of heart change for life change. I didn’t understand this in the beginning; I was very “put off/put on” and didn’t understand the critical aspect of Romans 12:2 and the transformation of the heart/mind for long lasting change.
Q: What does a typical work/ministry week look like for you?
A: Monday is administration day unless I have counselees. Tuesday is counseling until 3pm, and then it is an off night. Wednesday I counsel all day into the evening. Thursday after staff meeting, I counsel all day into the evening. Friday is my off day. In between all the counseling I am working on administrative things, grading homework for our training students, interacting with the staff who are in training or needing help with a case.
Q: How do you manage your own spiritual growth and spiritual health?
A: The best thing for me is to read and apply the truth. I keep my personal time with friends centered on the gospel and truth.
Q: Ministry can be draining and exhausting. How do you recharge?
A: I get away as often as I can with my husband to the Rocky Mountains.
Q: How can the readers be praying for you and your ministry?
A: Pray the Lord will continue to provide the necessary funds to keep RGCC going. Pray for many responses to our annual 62.50 campaign; where we ask for an annual donation of $62.50.
Q: Are you optimistic about the future of women in the biblical counseling ministry movement in general?
Q: What kinds of opportunities do you see available for women in biblical counseling?
A: Female supervision of other women. Biblical counseling conferences for women that are focused on our specific issues. Helping other women begin and maintain Biblical Counseling Centers in their areas.
Thank you, Julie, for sharing your heart for the ministry of biblical counseling with our readers today. May God richly bless you as you continue to serve Him!
This series of interviews is conducted by Ellen Castillo, a Biblical Counselor and the Director of Word of Hope Ministries, Inc., on behalf of Biblical Counseling for Women. You can connect with Ellen at www.wordofhopeministries.com and www.biblicalmentor.com