Interview with Linda Rice

This is the eighth 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 our interview with Linda Rice. Linda holds a masters in biblical counseling from The Master’s University, Santa Clarita, California; certifications from the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors and American Academy of Biblical Counselors, and is an author and an adjunct professor at Calvary University.

Q: Linda, please tell us about yourself.Linda Rice

I have been married for thirty-six years, and I have three grown children. We are an adoptive family. Two of our five grandchildren have preceded us to heaven. Having lived on both coasts and overseas, we presently live in the Midwest. Outside of church-based involvement, I am a member of the Collinsville Community Chorale, secretary of our HOA, and a private loan investor. I enjoy cooking, hiking, singing, and reading.

Q: Are you in vocational ministry (paid), or volunteer?

A: My ministries are all volunteer.

Q: Where do you currently serve and in what kind of ministry?

A: My first ministry priority is my husband, then children. Beyond that, my service has centered in the local church–in music, hospital/home/nursing home visitation, writing, and informal counseling/discipleship. I counseled formally at Gateway Biblical Counseling and Training Center 2007 to 2016, and continue now with my local church.

Q: How long have you been a biblical counselor?

A: I have been practicing biblical counseling since 2005.

Q: How did you get interested in becoming a biblical counselor? What drew you into the ministry?

A: Prior to my degree, I never saw myself as a counselor. I pursued a masters program primarily for the theology. Not only were they a delight, they came with a bonus of extensive practical application. My life was changed significantly. The professors inspired me and showed me that I could actually counsel. With our children grown and gone from home, devoting time to edifying women through counseling seemed the next logical use of the training God had given.

Q: Please give us a history of your experience as a biblical counselor.

A: My first formal counseling experience was at the Las Vegas Rescue Mission. I was too ignorant to realize how tough that would be. It was certainly educational for me if not for them. For ten years I served as a counselor at Gateway Biblical Counseling and Training Center in Illinois. I presently continue with my church and in informal settings like my home, at restaurants, or by phone.

Q: Do you have particular areas of expertise?

 A: While I have spoken at conferences and authored a book, I primarily counsel women and periodically blog. I have not specialized in types of cases.

Q: Do you partner with male counselors or pastors in your ministry? In what ways and what advantages does male partnership bring to your ministry?

A: I would like to. I believe it could benefit a married or premarital couple, broaden my own skill, and sharpen both counselors.

Q: Do you partner with other female counselors, and in what ways? In what ways and what advantages does female partnership bring to your ministry?

A: I would like to. Two working together can refine the counsel. Counselors can train each other. Last year I began requesting that my counselees bring an assistant in change, such as a friend or family member, so that a supportive person can learn alongside the counselee and continue to influence for godly living outside the counseling room and into the future.

Q: What unique strengths and advantages do you believe that women bring to a counseling ministry?

A: Women are generally strong in relationship-orientation and being attuned to others’ feelings. While men can effectively counsel women, the books of Timothy and Titus both urge women to disciple one another. We naturally empathize with being a woman. Also, this helps to protect the men and relieve the church leaders of some of the counseling ministry load.

Q: Please describe any hardship or challenges that you have faced as a woman in ministry.

A: I can’t think of any hardship that has come from being female. My greatest challenges arise from my own ignorance, weaknesses, and sinful inclinations.

Q: What women have most heavily influenced you as a biblical counselor?

A: The most influential women have been Martha Peace and a couple of friends who are fellow counselors locally, Connie Cummings and Cindy Hager. Also, I hold a memory of what I might call “the unknown soldier”–a pastor’s wife. Early in my training, I was working through “Okay, now that I’m all grown up (an empty-nester), what am I going to do with my life?” One evening on a break during a lecture I was telling a classmate, a pastor’s wife whose name I have forgotten, that I was considering getting a job. Immediately she answered with something like, “Oh, please don’t. The church needs you.” Now, I don’t believe it would have been wrong for me to obtain a paying job, but her appeal for the sake of the church bored into my heart and continues to circulate, influencing me to this day in all the forms my ministry takes. To all four of these women and many more, thank you for influencing my life toward greater godliness and skill at counseling.

Q: What men have most heavily influenced you as a biblical counselor?

A: As with the women above, I express my gratitude to several men. Jay Adams influenced me by pioneering the whole trend to think biblically about problems in living, by his influence on my teachers, and by his books. He influenced me by kind responses to my questions at conferences. One impression that sticks with me happened when I approached his conference book table to ask for a review of my manuscript. Another person there quickly turned me away. Jay overheard the interaction and asked about it when he could have remained a quiet observer. After all, he’s a busy man, was busy authoring his own books, and I was just a recent grad barely wet behind the ears. He accepted my manuscript, read it, and wrote an endorsement. That was tremendously encouraging. Mark Hager introduced me to biblical counseling through a weekly series he taught at a church near me. John Street and Stuart Scott are two professors whose words still echo in my head and guide my counseling. Lou Priolo’s books and counsel have significantly guided my thinking.

 

Q: What counseling or ministry resources specific to women do you find most helpful

A:

  • Booklets by Lou Priolo
  • Martha Peace, The Excellent Wife
  • Women Helping Women
  • John Street’s series on marriage and family, available by mp3 from the website of Grace Community Church (which also features a second series on divorce) and his video marriage-and-family lecture series taught at The Master’s Seminary, available online at tms.org.
  • My own notes collected from classes and conferences

Q: How do you stay current as a counselor, and is this important to your ministry?

A: Some of the means I have used include reading, conferences, listening to downloaded conference lectures, and going through IBCD’s observation CDs with the workbook. During my education, I built an “e-library” which I use to refresh my memory. Presently, I’m viewing video lectures on the website bcdasocal.org.

Q: When you first became a biblical counselor, what do you wish you had known then that you know now?

A: The intensity of two particular responsibilities was a new weight for me–the right handling of the Word of God and the fact that my counsel influences real people and others in their lives. It is so amazing to me that God has chosen to use me, a sinful person, to handle His perfect Word and to build others in faith! He actually lets me touch a Bible! He lets me tell someone else what He means by what He says. The responsibility is immense and the privilege high. It is certainly His power, not our skill, that works the change in others. God so generously gives such grace!

Q: What would you like to say to any women considering becoming a Biblical Counselor?

A: Build your love for the Lord and for people. Be teachable–accepting, seeking, and heeding correction of your beliefs, speech, and behaviors. Establish a habit of weekly Bible study for yourself whether or not you attend a group study. Pray and plan for your counselees. Remember that it is the Word of God which is sufficient for counseling your counselee; therefore you can edify those who come your way and the Lord will use you, even you. Since God is sovereign, the counselee who walks in your door is no accident. She is there by God’s design for the growth of both you and her.

Q: We all must count the cost of ministry. What has ministry cost you?

A: Interesting question. I usually think more in terms of investment. It costs me pride and self-indulgence—both liabilities anyway. Materially, I am not paid. It requires the investment of time, self-discipline, and putting off self so as to best relate to my counselee. Also, I suppose I could say it costs emotional discomfort and energy. To care for my counselee and to “weep with those who weep,” I must try to put myself in her shoes. That means feeling uncomfortable, sometimes even having my own scars pricked open to being reminded of pains I’d rather not feel again. After some sessions, I’m physically fatigued.

Q: What blessings has your ministry brought you?

A: I think foremost has been the joy of pleasing Christ, second the joy when someone changes for the right reason. It has given me the blessing of participating with the Lord in His plan for history by speaking the gospel and edifying sisters in Christ.

Q: How has being a counselor benefitted your own walk with The Lord?

A: It has increased my joy, chipped at some rough edges in my character, and motivated increased obedience.

Q: Do you have a ‘ministry verse’ for your ministry that you find most meaningful? If so, why is it special to you?

A: Not really, but I did think out my philosophy of ministry to guide decisions on service.

Q: In what ways have you grown as a counselor since the beginning of your ministry?

A: I hope that I am now slower to speak and a better listener. I hope that I have gained a better understanding of people and greater skill at ministering the Word of God to them.

Q: What does a typical work/ministry week look like for you?

A: It varies. There is always family and home responsibilities, Bible study, and practice for music ministry. Besides formal meetings for counseling, there may be hospital visits and meeting with women just to build relationship.

Q: How do you manage your own spiritual growth and spiritual health?

Besides the basics like devotions and church, a couple of activities that help me include Scripture memory and reading or listening to sermons/lectures.

Q: How can the readers be praying for you and your ministry?

A: Pray that foremost I will serve because I love God and my counselees. Next, that I will rightly handle the Word of God and not misrepresent what He says. Third, that I would live with integrity the same that I teach.

Q: Are you optimistic about the future of women in the biblical counseling ministry movement in general?

A: I am so thankful for the increasing awareness and adoption of biblical thinking and counseling among Christians that has resulted from the spread of a biblical approach to dealing with problems in living. Women trained in biblical counseling to use the Word of God can influence any ministry in which they serve. It is exciting to be a part of that movement, watch it spread worldwide, watch how God is using it to build His church.

Q: What kinds of opportunities do you see available for women in biblical counseling?

A: Titus 2 provides women with wonderful direction­s for ministry. From this passage, I deduce that the field is wide open for female biblical counselors to effectively minister under the authority of their husbands and local churches all around the globe in whatever way fulfills Titus 2. If I brainstorm, the first I think of is the role of wife and mother. Wives trained in biblical counseling are better equipped to help their husbands be more effective fathers and leaders in churches. If biblical-counselor-trained moms train their children to think biblically, what a mighty influence that can be on the doctrinal purity of churches in the future! Women who teach Sunday school or Bible studies or in a Christian school can incorporate a biblical view of problems and their solutions. Other ways might be discipleship of other women; helping pastors by taking some of the counseling load; coaching other women in biblical counseling; teaching or speaking to women’s groups or women at conferences; writing helpful materials; visiting church members in the hospital. In whatever service you enjoy, biblical counseling can be incorporated because it means speaking biblically to the situation at hand in a way that edifies others.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: Thank you for the  privilege of this interview. I look forward to reading the thoughts and ideas of others.

Thank you, Linda, 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.

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