Our counseling ministry is always looking for good counselors. It seems like we always have a waiting list of those who are in need of help both from inside and outside our local church. And while I realize there will probably never be enough qualified biblical counselors to meet the need, it is always my desire to plan for the future and develop men and women to counsel now and in the next generation. So, what do I look for in a biblical counselor?
In one sense I look for a good biblical counselor the same way that I look for an Elder in the church. That is, that I think in most cases, elders and counselors are caught, not taught. What I mean by that is that I look for men and women who are already coming alongside their brothers and sisters in Christ, walking with them, sharing the Word with them, and sharing their lives. While I can teach counseling skills, Scripture, and specifics about different sin and suffering issues, what I cannot teach is compassion, love for others, and the character qualities needed to counsel well.
Romans 15:1-7 describes this type of person well: “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction,
that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:1-7 emphasis mine)
Good biblical counselors have a desire to help people. This is only step one, however, just as the desire for Eldership is only the first step there as well. The desire is not the end of the qualification list. What are some of the qualities of the biblical counselor?
“I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.” (emphasis mine)
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (emphasis mine)
You are qualified to counsel if you are full of goodness (Romans 15:14)
- Are you able to be kind, generous, and compassionate with others?
You are qualified to counsel if you are growing in knowledge (Romans 15:14).
- The Biblical counselor must be a student of the Word.
- Do you understand the Gospel, the work of Christ, the role of Scripture in counseling, the grace of God in the transformation of people, the work of the Holy spirit through the reading and application of the Word?
You are qualified to counsel if you have the ability to adequately teach/admonish another. (Romans 15:14).
- This ability may come to some naturally but for most requires training, reading, prayer, and practice.
You are qualified to counsel if you are growing in wisdom (Colossians 3:16).
- Wisdom is knowledge rightly applied.
- Wisdom comes, not with acquiring knowledge, but with obeying the truths, commands, and promises of Scripture.
You are qualified to counsel if you are thankful. (Colossians 3:16).
- You MUST understand that it is the grace of God that enables you to listen, understand and care for those in need.
- You MUST understand that it is the grace of God through which the Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to penetrate hearts and transform you and those you counsel
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the lawof Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2, emphasis mine)
- You who are spiritual relates directly to Galatians 5:22-25 – walking by the Spirit, not the flesh.
- Galatians 5 implies a level of maturity and experience.
- You must be gentle
- You must be cautious
- You must commit to sometimes exhausting care for others. Bearing another’s burdens can be costly.
If we were so say that the ultimate goal of Biblical Counseling comes from 1 Timothy 1:5, “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”, then the qualifications of the Biblical counselor are focused at bring that about.
- Is our life and our godliness sufficient to guide in bringing true heart change to our fellow brother or sister in Christ?
- Are we prepared, studied, and gifted to be used by God in the life transformation of others?
- Are our hearts and lives transforming into the likeness of Jesus?
- Would God count us worthy of the calling to which we have been called?