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Your Children and Biblical Counseling

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From the title of this post, you might think I am going to explain how to counsel your children. But no, actually the post will explain why you should raise your children to be biblical counselors. The connection may not be apparent at first. It took me over ten years to see it myself. I was fresh from  learning about Gestalt Psychology in my days at the University of Miami.

 I thought the training I received in college would equip me, as a Christian, to help people with their problems. I had paid a fair amount of money to attend classes where, among other things, I would lay on the floor in a dark college gym and learn how to feel my feelings. It didn’t make much sense at the time, but I was sure I would figure it out later on. Then I read a book that would radically change what I thought about feeling my feelings. Someone at church recommended I read Competent to Counsel by Jay Adams. Wow!

No doubt many of you can relate to the liberating joy I experienced as I turned the pages of Jay Adam’s book. All Christians are competent to counsel the word of God to each other, at least in an informal setting. I learned that the Bible taught that counseling was not primarily figuring out our feelings, but caring enough about someone to lovingly confront him with God’s truth, so that he would change, learning to please God more and more. Caring, confronting, changing – not simply listening, feeling, and empathizing. Loving submission to the Lordship of Christ is the change that people needed, not relief from their negative feelings (we were told in college that guilt was not a helpful concept). As I said before, “Wow!”

Ten years later, my wife and I were blessed with our first child. One thing I was concerned about was finding things to teach my son that would serve to protect him and my other children from the deceptions of a fallen world.  Then it connected. It hit me—the best defense is a strong offense. Biblically, my son should learn to care for others by being concerned that they would grow to follow God. That’s not hard to understand, but how on earth would we do that? Did my wife and I formally sit our kids down and have them memorize the three C’s—caring, confronting, change. No, but our goal was to prepare them for the difficulties and deceptive sin of the world by encouraging them to see how they could love and help others first. This approach helps to avoid the tendency to be ruled by peer pressure, because people who need to be helped (and their children) presumably are not safe guides in and of themselves. Teaching children about man’s common condition of sin has the very practical application that everyone must need some sort of change. No one is good in his own strength. Biblical counseling must become a mindset for all Christians, but especially for our children. Everyone is in need of radical heart change if they are to live for the glory of God. If they learn this one great truth, they will learn that they must be simultaneously loving and wary of the people in their lives.

This fits well with God’s directive to fathers. In Ephesians 6:4 we read,

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Fully examining this verse is a job for another post or two! But for now, notice the directive to raise children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. The Greek word translated instruction in this passage is the same word that is translated admonish or counsel in Romans 15:14. Paul is saying that fathers are to raise their children by caring enough for them to lovingly confront them so that they would change for the glory of God. The wording of Ephesians 6:4 is teaching us that if fathers do not “counsel” their children biblically, they will provoke them to anger. Again, wow!

Romans 15:14 and Ephesians 6:4 provide the backdrop for biblical parenting and for biblical living. The Christian is to be about change, both in himself and others. This is a life-long mission. Our world groans in longing for redemption. And through the path of  biblical counseling, formal and informal, God has called his people to bring the good news of redemption from sin in Jesus Christ.

Imagine if the children of the church had the mindset of caring and lovingly confronting, in order to bring about change that glorifies God. Raising your children to be biblical counselors will bless them and you and bring honor to your heavenly Father. Think about it!

Posted on June 11, 2011