In the last several years, I have grown very skeptical of my own ability to give out sound counsel. For the most part I have refrained from doing so, and rather have attempted to introduce them to the wisdom and love of Jesus. Its like a triangle– Jesus, them, and myself occupying each corner. All I do when I counsel someone is to help them see the Lord. Hopefully, once a dialogue has taken place I step back and let the supernatural happen.
Much of counseling is facilitating or creating an environment that you can gather information. Your friend feels that you and your surroundings are “safe” and he/she opens up in that situation. Almost all of the the time, a certain level of confidentiality must exist and be understood as being “in place”. A key fact is getting your “permission to counsel.” This must happen in order for the counselee to really receive.
Usually when I meet with someone, I do not attempt to sound profound, or wise. Far from it! Instead, I am wary of myself. I think I’m like a flare shot up in the inky darkness, I just want to give a few brief moments of illumination before the moment passes. But when God speaks he will enlighten fully and bring understanding. “In his light, we see light”, (Ps. 36:9).
Remember that Job’s friends were at their best when silently sitting with him in the ash and rubble. At that moment, they were very effective counselors. The problem came when they began to verbally explain why Job’s personal disaster took place. Very often I find that people have a need to be needed. They give counsel so they can feel good about themselves. There is a lot of Christian counseling out there that is sabotaged by this inherent flaw.
Part of speaking wisely to a friend must include the option that I might be totally off-the-wall. Whatever I say must not be “ex cathedra“, or as truth unchallenged. Just because I’m giving you counsel does not make me superior, wiser or more authoritative. It really should take as much humility to counsel, as it takes to be counseled. I can think of an easy dozen encounters that I’m embarrassed by– and will never be able to retract. Yes, mistakes will be made, but we should trust the Holy Spirit to use those missteps. He is sovereign.
“Peer-to-peer” counseling is very much a blessing. A great need exists in the church for this particular ministry. But to be a source of wisdom to another should be both a sobering, and a clarifying experience. We should beware of the pitfalls, and wary of our flesh and its desire for greatness, glory and fame. To be a counselor can be quite dangerous and I should not seek this place unless its thrust on me. A good counselor is almost always reluctant.
“If you young fellows were wise, the devil couldn’t do anything to you, but since you aren’t wise, you need us who are old.” Martin Luther
“If you have knowledge, let others light their candles at it.” Thomas Fuller
- Counseling And The Bible: A Comparison And Contrast To Secular Counseling (onlinefreeservice.wordpress.com)
- Rainy Day People: Counseling Others in the Storm (brokenbelievers.com)
- Counseling Session (banksbaker.wordpress.com)