In a day and age when it seems that nearly everyone is "in counseling" it seemed to me to be prudent to put forward a little direction to those Christians who may be thinking of seeking counsel in the coming new year.
The kind of counseling you receive will no doubt impact your entire life, and it should. We are created to have our material (physical and all things that can be touched such as your brain, liver, heart) and our immaterial (all the things about us that cannot be touched such as your thoughts, soul, will, mind, desires, heart etc) function together. In other words, what you think, believe, and desire in your immaterial parts will affect your physical person. Anyone who is stressed in thought can attest to how that affects them physically with tension headaches, stiff and sore muscles and so on.
So, what kind of counseling should a Christian seek? The first and most important element is that the counsel be centered on the Word of God, the Bible.
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 2 Timothy 3:16 (NASB)
It is critical that the problem you bring to the counseling table is defined biblically. This is important because as a Christian you are not to follow the wisdom of this world (which is found in secular counseling and treatment) but you are to determine how to solve or address the problem using biblical terminology and biblical principles.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord that he will instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:12-16 (NASB)
A biblical counselor is faithful in her handling of the Word of God and makes right application with it. This means that she understands the Bible, she studies it, and knows it in a way that comes from more than a casual reading of it. She will not attempt to use Scripture out of context, twisting and turning its meaning to fit what she wants it to say or to make it apply to your particular situation.
Your biblical counselor will be willing to tell you the hard things, to point out the areas of your life that are being affected by your sinful actions and she will help you to understand the critical role the heart plays in your problems.
Biblical counseling really only works for those who are indwelt by the Spirit of God and are subject to His authority in their lives. The unregenerate person is unable to make spiritual application because as Scripture teaches us they are dead to God and do not have the mind of Christ (Eph. 2:1).
Your Biblical Counselor is a person who has committed herself to you in the role of intensive discipleship in your life for a specific period of time. Unlike secular counseling, the duration of biblical counseling is usually limited. We don't want to create lifetime counselee's and our goal is to teach our counselee to depend on God not on us.
The person you choose to minister to you should demonstrate humility as a primary character quality. She should see herself in light of who she is in Christ, a servant of the King, not as a "professional" who will be the fount of all wisdom in your life.
Of course, a good biblical counselor will be well trained and will also willingly place themselves under the authority of an organization such as NANC (National Association of Biblical Counselors) or the IABC (International Association of Biblical Counselors). While belonging to either of these great organizations means that they have been trained by the best of the best, their attitude will be one of a humble servant rather than having a pompous know-it-all attitude.
to be continued...