“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 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. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-7 emphasis mine)
Biblical Counseling is hard work. The biblical counselor must be a student of the Word and a reader of those experienced counselors that have gone before. There is no room for a “slacker” in this ministry. The Scriptures speak of at least three areas in which Biblical Counseling takes place:
- Through Pastoral Shepherding (1 Peter 5:1-4, Ephesians 4:11-12)
- Through daily and formal Discipleship (Ephesians 4:12-16, 2 Timothy 2:2)
- Through Crisis Counseling (Galatians 6:1-3)
The Bible is clear that certain characteristics must be present in the life of a believer for them to be qualified to counsel at any of these levels. Scripture defines levels of personal holiness, maturity, skill levels, and Spiritual giftedness that all apply to one’s ability to counsel (Romans 15:14, Colossians 3:16, Galatians 5:16-26).
In other words, the Biblical Counselor must be skilled at her ministry.
But just as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:6, we work hard, but God gives the growth and change. Rick Thomas writes,
“You are not the counselor, but merely the mouthpiece, which should release you from any artificial or self-induced pressure to bring change to someone. Whether you’re a spouse, parent, friend, or counselor, it’s all the same: the Spirit of God is the change agent in stubborn lives.
There are two primary reasons a person does not change; they are not born again or sin has captured them. Neither of these reasons is because of you. Sometimes people can think that change is about them, because of them, or generated by them”.
This is the point of the circle of responsibility vs concern diagram that we often use with counselees (click here to display diagram My Concerns). You see, it applies to the Biblical Counselor as well. We can only, “bring the horse to water.” We cannot make them drink or transform them in any way. While we have a settled responsibility, we are not the Holy Spirit.
This apples not only to the counseling process, but gives us wisdom in when to terminate a “failing” counselee. We ALWAYS work hard. We ALWAYS pray hard. We ALWAYS prepare well. But at the end of the day, it is the Holy Spirit that brings transformation leading to change. And so, we must never allow our counselee to leave the table thinking we are great counselors, but instead, knowing that we have an incredible God.