A Counselor Swimming Upstream

Today's guest blogger is Ellen Castillo. 

Counselor, Mentor, Friend: Are you upholding the sufficiency of Scripture? Are you thinking Biblically about the people you are helping and their circumstances? Are you applying the Gospel to their sin and their suffering?
Sometimes I feel like a fish swimming upstream where Biblical Counseling and Mentoring is concerned. I imagine other Biblical Counselors or those in any type of helping ministry feel this way from time to time, too. It can be a lonely calling.
Come to think of it, I think Christians in general feel like fish swimming upstream in our current culture. Jesus even specifically said it would be this way. In John 15:19,  “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” God said the world would hate us!
I’m not primarily talking about believers in our culture. I am talking about being a Biblical Counselor within the CHURCH culture, a Biblical Counselor among other believers. I am blessed to attend a local church that preaches a clear Gospel and that supports me as I serve the body of Christ as a counselor and mentor trainer in my church as well as in other local churches and online. Know that I am not in any way coming against my own local church or any particular church. By the contrary, I am referring to the church-at-large, wherever this applies.
As I read books, follow blogs, listen to speakers, listen to conversations, and observe the body of Christ in action, I cannot help but notice how often what is being said or promoted is outside of the sufficiency of Scripture. I believe wholeheartedly in the sufficiency of Scripture, and the more I have grown passionate about this the more sensitive I am to the things people say that puts limits on God’s Word. Especially when it comes to helping people who are hurting. Secular, humanistic philosophies and methods have crept in to the church where they do not belong.
You have probably seen video of salmon as they swim upstream. They have to swim against currents, through rapids, and up waterfalls. The fish are aiming towards the goal of spawning to create a new generation. It takes every bit of strength they have. If they make it to the goal and complete their task, they soon die. Sounds a bit like a picture of the Christian life! And the life of someone who is dedicated to helping hurting people and raising up a new generation of believers who adhere to the sufficiency of Scripture.
The goal of all believers, and the goal of Biblical Counseling and Mentoring is the same as God’s goal for His people – to become like Jesus. Romans 8:29 says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…”
Pursuing Christlikeness in our current culture is like the salmon facing many obstacles on its journey, obstacles that want to take it in another direction entirely. At times, Biblical Counseling faces the same dynamic as it comes up against the obstacles of secular and humanistic ideas that have become common in our churches, especially in areas of caring for the hurting.
I did a little online research about the salmon’s trek upstream, and noted that sometimes a salmon will hide behind a rock where the current is calm, so that it can rest up for the remainder of the journey. When we are swimming upstream against a culture that denies the sufficiency of Scripture we, too, can stop and rest up for the remainder of the journey.  We must rest to reflect on God’s good provision and love for us, which empowers us to press on. It is a long journey and it will do us well to rest. As Jesus says in Mark 6:31, “And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’”
There is an important difference between Christians and the salmon, and this is where our analogy breaks down. A salmon only has itself and its own determination and instinct to get to the goal. We have a Savior in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit empowers us, and God has promised to complete the work He began in us.
When I am discouraged about the upstream swim ahead of me, I remind myself of God’s faithfulness provided in The Gospel. We do not have to rely on our determination, stamina, or will. We can rely on Him Who saves.
Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
Counselors and mentors, everyone: fine tune your radar and start to notice how often unbiblical advice is given. Sometimes, you and I may feel as if we are swimming upstream when others do not seem to notice that something unbiblical is being offered up as helpful. We must be sure we are thinking Biblically! And we must be sure to apply the Gospel to both the sin and the suffering in each other’s lives. Doing so will potentially cause others to swim upstream alongside us. That would be a lot less lonely!
Please visit www.wordofhopeministries.com for more information about the ministry of Biblical Counseling.