Finally Friday! Today you are being treated to a great post by my friend and former co-counselor, Pastor Bruce Roeder from
Missio Dei Fellowship, in Kenosha Wisconsin. He is "musing" on a great book by Jim Berg, Changed into His Image. I suggest you check out his blog My Stuff That Interests Me Blog. I will be back on Monday!
Over the years I've noticed that many
people seem to be a bit mystified as to what a biblical counselor is and more
importantly what he or she does. Part of
the reason for the mystification if I can put it that way is because of the use
of the word "counseling."
Culturally speaking, counseling suggests
psychology and psychiatry, therapy and medications, recovery and emotional
healing. To some then, a biblical
counselor is someone who, in some way, uses the Bible in a therapeutic way to
assist in recovery and emotional healing.
Some conclude that a "biblical
counselor" must therefore have training that is similar to that of a
psychologist. Some biblical counselors in fact do have training in psychology.
To what extent it influences their approach to what is called biblical
counseling is a variable. (I had two courses in psychology in the interest of
The way I attempt to demystify biblical
counseling is to explain that counseling is nothing more than discipleship.
This is often news to those confused about the terms.
I then explain that certified biblical
counselors (NANC, IABC) and those who have been trained in crisis counseling
(but are not necessarily certified) are usually sought out because the person
is in some sort of a crisis. In this way, a biblical counselor is similar to
the psychologist in that most people go to a psychologist because they feel
they are in a crisis of some sort.
But that is usually where the similarity
ends and that's because the true biblical counselor counsels out of their
theological background and not through whatever psychology they have picked up
on the way.
This is an important distinction and it
means that the number one thing the biblical counselor is interested in is the
progressive sanctification of the counselee, even in, especially in, the
crisis they are experiencing. Thus, biblical counseling is nothing more than
intensive discipleship, usually for a short duration of roughly 6-10 meetings.
Keep in mind that many people who seek out psychologists can be in therapy for
In fact, after the crisis has passed or
been dealt with scripturally the biblical counselor returns the counselee back
into the mainstream of discipleship ministry, meaning whatever their church
offers as a model of "normal" discipleship training.
People come to the biblical counselor because
they are usually in some sort of crisis (not always though). They are seeking
relief from fear, worry, anxiety, discouragement, rebellious children, adultery
recovery, drug abuse, guilt, despair and any number of problems common to man.
Let me submit to you that what they need is
the application of the gospel so that they change to be more like Christ. That
is progressive sanctification and in that way the biblical counselor is nothing
more than someone trained to help disciple them through the crisis.
So, what is necessary for any person
wishing to give biblical counsel to another?
Knowledge of what progressive
sanctification is and (is not).
Serious application to one's life.
(You can't give away what you yourself do not apply.)
I like Jim Berg's definition of
discipleship: Discipleship is helping another believer make biblical change
toward Christlikeness. Changed into His Image, Jim Berg, page 11.
Isn't that something we all should be
striving to do?