How Do We REALLY Help The Hurting
A number of years ago I participated in a group building activity. The mission: to drop an egg from the highest point of a ladder onto a tile floor without the egg breaking. To that end we were given a limited variety of unlikely materials: (Popsicle sticks, rubber bands, strips of tape, band-aids, drinking straws, string, etc. and asked to create a vessel around an egg that would ensure the success of the mission… the safety of the egg in a precarious position).
Whichever team could drop the egg from the greatest height without the egg breaking would be determined “the winner!” Each team member’s mind immediately went to work on the mission, “How do we put enough support around the egg in order to protect it given this test or circumstance?”
If you are a “figure-outer” kind of person, like me, you can really get into projects like this. But if you are not careful, you can lose sight of the mission, which is protecting the egg, and become preoccupied with creating the vessel. The vessel may look great, have aerodynamic properties, even look cool, and survive being dropped from extreme heights, but none of that matters unless you protect the egg. If the egg breaks, the mission fails.
Providing Christ centered counsel to people in the midst of difficult life circumstances in order to help them find their way, grow in faith, and increase God-likeness can be fragile work, much like handling an egg. For those of us who have the privilege of helping people in this way, multiple questions roll around in our minds, “How do we truly help the hurting? How do we create enough support around our counselee’s to ensure greater potential for success outside of our counseling relationship?”
If we are not careful, as counselors we “figure-outer” types, can get caught up in the manner’s, methods, verses, and insights of the counseling process and forget that those for whom we are caring need far more than our counsel and insights in one short segment during the course of a week.
Counseling alone often makes significant assumptions that a person is able to make truth and Scriptural applications from the counseling room translate to real life while at the same time hurdling through the midst of pretty severe life circumstances or relational difficulties. In reality, if all the egg has is a mission, but no support in order to accomplish it, mission failure. Likewise, if our counselee’s understand what they are to do, or should do, behaviors they should avoid, or scriptural principles they should apply, but have no support vessel in the midst of that process…. mission failure. So, again, for those of us committed to really helping those in our midst who are hurting the necessary question of support and protection of those we counsel as well as the counsel we give needs to be of great importance for us.
Our Heavenly Father has the corner of the market on this one. God says, through the Apostle Paul, “…we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Eph 4:15b). So, according to Scripture, personal change is a community project.
David Powlison states, “In the Bible we have a social model the secular world would kill for. It seamlessly joins specialized competency with community and peer resources. But in the existing church, both the defined specialists in the soul and the community of care often fall woefully short of biblical understanding and competency.”
This said, closing the gap between “specialized Biblical competency” and “community” or “peer resources” needs to be central for us as Biblical counselors. Why? Because it provides the Biblical “vessel” that ensures the success of the mission. It is a significant answer to the question, “how do we really help the hurting among us?”
Some suggestions about how to do this:
- Invite someone from the counselee’s sphere of influence who is regularly speaking into their situation into the counseling process. This gives you the opportunity to gain insight that you might never gain without them, and also helps to give you a person who has a relationship with your counselee speaking into their life with the same counsel you are providing.
- Instead of meeting with your counselee once a week for an hour, meet with your counselee and their friend for two – three hours once a month, and have them meeting intentionally in the other 3 weeks of the month working on application and integration of the information gained in counseling into life.
Remember, I am not simply suggesting these adjustments because it is a “better counseling model,” or “because it works,” or is easier. We not only need the body of Christ in our counseling because it is pragmatic, but because it provides the Biblical “vessel” of community which God has ordained in Scripture as the primary place for personal growth and change, and it also allows you opportunity to equip the body of Christ to “work properly” and so “makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
For further thoughts on this topic check out our Advocate section on our website at http://www.twelvestones.org/#/advocacy
Twelve Stones Ministries
Posted on June 29, 2014