What comes to your mind when you think about the word “counseling” or “counselor”? Maybe you think of your high school guidance counselor. For many of us come connotations of therapy, psychology, clinical practice, or perhaps an aesthetically soothing office where problems are shared.
A wide-angel but biblical view of counseling
But from a biblical worldview, counseling is not limited to what we often think of as professional counseling done by experts – with formal offices or state licenses. Heath Lambert gives a helpful summary: “Counseling is a conversation where one party with questions, problems or trouble seeks assistant from someone they believe has answers, solutions and help.”[i]
- When you speak the truth in love to someone else in the body (Eph 4:15) – you are counseling.
- When you encourage someone who is fainthearted or struggling in sin (1 Thes 5:14; Gal 6:1-2) – you are counseling.
- When you teach or interact in a small group – you are counseling one another.
In fact, it’s fair to say that counseling is one of the “one another commands” of Scripture. One-anothers are commands given to the church to carry out in community together. These are practical relational commands that orbit around mutual love exercised in humility. Some examples include: Love one another John (13:34); be devoted to one another (Rom 12:10), build up one another (1 Thes 5:13), and serve one another (Gal 5:13)
In addition to these, Romans 15:14 essentially tells the church to counsel one another! It says:
And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.
The word “admonish” is noutheteo and means – to warn, or to offer counsel and instruction. This verse then, teaches that believers are able to minister to one another not merely by virtue of expertise, but by virtue of being believers carrying out interpersonal ministry. To put it in Heath Lamberts words, “you are counseling all of the time.”
Sometimes we fail to think about counseling as part of the mutual growth-ministry of community in the church. We limit our thinking to clinical and professional counseling. But counseling happens when a woman encourages her sister during a season of stress and fatigue in the church foyer 10 minutes before service. Counseling happens when a pastor talks with a man who is struggling in his marriage seeking advice. Counseling happens when two believers get together to talk about the Bible over coffee. Counseling is happening in UBC ministries throughout the week. You are counseling ALL the time. It doesn’t matter whether you’re “interested” in biblical counseling or whether you see yourself as a counselor – you are a counselor. This brings us to a really important question: is the counsel that you offer… biblical? Is it spiritually sound? Is it sourced in God’s word or experience? Does it come from the truth and its implications or our opinions? We counsel all the time – but how biblically faithful, and biblically sound is our ministry to one another?
An Equipping Opportunity
There are lots of ways to grow in our readiness to serve others and point them to the hope of God’s word. One way to grow (both in our own discipleship in the Lord and to be equipped for greater ministry-usefulness), is the annual Biblical counseling conference at Grace Bible Church in Bozeman MT. It is for anyone interested in ministering to other people in the body or anyone interested in counseling-training. This year it will be held July 14-16 with fifteen sessions of teaching that focus especially on the heart and on addictions. Some examples of sessions include:
- The Process of Biblical Change
- Qualifications of a Biblical Counselor
- Counseling those in Sexual Sin
- Philosophy of Addictions
You can find past counseling conference messages here
The conference costs $100. Please let Tom Wyckoff know if you have any questions or if you’d like to no more! Additional schedule and registration information is located here: https://gbcmt.org/biblical-counseling/biblical-counseling-conference/
[i] Lambert, Heath. A Theology of Biblical Counseling. Zondervan. Pg 13.