Guest Author - Dountonia S. Slack
As the result of Biblical Counseling training, I have been richly blessed and encouraged to know that any Christian can be used by God to disciple others in a way that will be excellent and pleasing to Him. In Romans 15:14, Paul 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.” Thus, the scriptures are sufficient to diagnose and remedy every spiritual problem based upon such passages as 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:3 because God has given us everything pertaining to life and godliness. Biblical counseling uses God’s Word, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to change desires, thinking, and behavior in people’s lives that are contrary to the scriptures.
From verses like Hebrews 4:12, the Word has the power to reach the deepest parts of the hearts of men, and able to judge even his motives and his intentions. However, biblical counseling is only for believers because unbelievers are spiritually appraised (1 Corinthians 2:14). Determining the spiritual condition of a counselee or potential counselee is so important because a person must be a new creature in Christ before he or she can move forward in biblical counseling. One’s spirit and mind must be illumined by the Holy Spirit. So, spending time early-on in the counseling session to gain a solid understanding about one’s salvation, church attendance, bible study, church background, etc. is essential to the overall agenda of the counseling experience.
Consequently, Biblical counseling seeks the sanctification of the Christian. As counselors, our desire is for our brothers and sisters to be conformed to the image of Christ. This process of biblical sanctification is for the glory of God, to analyze patterns of sin and to help counselees discern what to put off (to renew their minds through the Word of God) and what to put on (to replace sinful habits and thinking) in order to be able to effectively teach others what they learn (2 Timothy 2:2). Thus, Biblical counseling is a method of spiritual sanctification under the umbrella of the discipleship ministry of the church. When we counsel people, we are looking at specific problems or issues the counselee is struggling with, dealing with matters of their heart, and/or what idols they are worshipping in place of God. As David Powlison writes, “Biblical counseling is the ministry of God’s grace to individuals just as biblical preaching is the ministry of God’s grace to the multitudes.”
Although the styles of the counseling sessions differ between counselors, there are key elements to the counseling structure:
Psalm 139:14 says, “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.” The way in which God uses each of us is unique to the way that He made us. Therefore, the way that I counsel others will reflect the gifts and abilities He Sovereignly ordained for me to use for the people He places in my life to disciple. Not to mention, this is a great encouragement to accept the call that God has for me which may not look the same or be executed in the same way that another’s purpose for which God created for him or her.
The Word of God applies to both counselor and counselee for “the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). Therefore, it is imperative that I too must be maturing in the Lord, dying to self daily (Luke 9:23), and active in the process of sanctification. The Scriptures are a wellspring of God’s truth that not only offer specific counseling techniques, but also inform the entire process of counseling.
It is important that I seek to be humble, rather than becoming anxious about knowing all the answers to counselees’ problems, and seek to exhort Jesus Christ. I have learned that “faking it” as though I have the problem all figured out does not benefit the counselee or me. It will be in these moments of desperation that I will need to express to the counselee my need for prayer and the Spirit’s guidance in order to counsel wisely.
Also, I have learned that my folly, my weaknesses, my lack of earthly wisdom is sometimes the most fruitful reality one can offer for the good of counselees and the glory of the living King. Paul, a brilliant scholar of Scripture, intentionally avoided eloquence for this very purpose. Becoming foolish for the sake of edifying the power of the Cross never exhibits incompetence on the part of a biblical counselor. On the contrary, it screams competence as a wise and dependant servant of God which is the key to effective counseling.