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How Equipped Are You?

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God honoring biblical counseling requires continual assessment of our own hearts, knowledge, skills, and shortcomings.  Simply because one becomes licensed, certified or simply accrues hundreds or thousands of hours counseling does not permit us to relax in our zeal to know God’s Word more deeply.  Prayer that God would continually expand our abilities to minister well should be of utmost priority in our ongoing practice of caring for souls.  Biblical counseling is not to be a pre-packaged, stale set of methods that we apply identically to each person who walks through our doors.  We must approach people as people.  Individuals are diverse.  They range in their capacities to comprehend certain aspects of the Bible.  Some need comfort, others confrontation.   I appreciate Eugene Peterson’s interpretation of I Corinthians 9:19-23 as I believe it captures the spirit of our call as biblical counselors:

            Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant    to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists,            loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I        kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of   view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-  saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it![1]

            Meeting people at their point of struggle while “keeping our bearings in Christ” and exercising the teachings of the Bible (not just verbally, but experientially) is part of our tasks in growing into mature ambassadors of God’s Word.  Below are a few questions to consider for yourself as you seek the Lord’s glory in your daily ministry to others.  

Rate yourself 1-5 on the following questions.  1= Never   2=Sometimes   3=Most of the time   4=Always

  1. I exhibit genuine love for those I counsel (1 Cor. 13:1).                                                    1     2     3     4 
  2. I display patience with those I counsel (Gal. 5:22).                                                         1     2     3     4
  3. I treat those I counsel with kindness (Gal. 5:22).                                                             1     2     3     4
  4. I am gentle with those I counsel (Gal. 5:23).                                                                        1     2     3     4
  5. I work to be self-controlled when emotions are high in a counseling meeting (Gal. 5:23). 1     2     3     4
  6. I am not rude when I confront those I counsel (I Cor. 13:5).                                            1     2     3     4
  7. I am not irritable with difficult counselees (1 Cor. 13:5).                                                 1     2     3     4
  8. I work diligently to understand the Bible’s application to life and change (2 Tim. 2:15).  1     2     3     4
  9. I understand the role of depravity in people’s presenting problems (Eph. 2:3).                1     2     3     4
  10. I view human change in the context of sanctification (Rom. 8:28-29).                            1     2     3     4
  11. I rely on God’s grace and Spirit to change others (Tit. 2:11-14).                                      1     2     3     4
  12. I can introduce the sovereignty of God during suffering in a sensitive way (Phi. 2:13).      1     2     3     4
  13. I emphasize the supremacy of the Gospel in the work of change (John 14:6)                    1     2     3     4
  14. I listen attentively and patiently (Jas. 1:19).                                                                     1     2     3     4
  15. I seek to understand the situation before offering advice or counsel (Prov. 18:13).            1     2     3     4
  16. I am willing to confront others when necessary (Tit. 2:15).                                            1     2     3     4
  17. I pray for those I counsel.                                                                                                 1     2     3     4
  18. I recognize and accept my limitations.                                                                            1     2     3     4
  19. I humbly consult others when I reach my limits as a counselor (Prov. 11:14).                  1     2     3     4
  20. I do not approach counseling legalistically (Gal. 5:1-6).                                                 1     2     3     4

            There are many more questions to consider, but this is a good starting point.   In light of your ratings, where do you need to seek the Lord for continued growth?  Who is someone you can reach out to who can mentor and train you in these areas?  What issues in your own heart prevent you from ministering more effectively? 

            While it is not always comfortable to own our weaknesses and shortcomings, it is imperative in our service to others.  We must never remove ourselves, as counselors, from the same redemptive narrative we teach others.   Never forget, as you counsel others God is using them as a means of changing and maturing you just as much as he is using you as an instrument of His grace in changing them.  May the Lord bless you in your continued work in His Kingdom!  

[1] All Scripture quotations in this publication are from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © by Eugene H. Peterson 1993, 1994,   

    1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Posted on April 10, 2015