• The Tale of Two Counselors

    Posted on September 2nd, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    How to Care Like Christ

    Part II: The Tale of Two Counselors


    Blog Series Note: How to Care Like Christ seeks to equip lay people, pastors, and professional Christian counselors with the biblical knowledge and relational skills to change lives with Christ’s changeless truth.


    Several years ago, “Tim” (not his real name) shared his story with me. His uncle had repeatedly sexually abused him while he was in elementary school. Tim never told anyone about the damage in his soul until he finally found the courage to tell a pastoral counselor. Hear Jim’s words.


    “Bob, it was incredibly hard. I felt so ashamed, but I got the words out—sobbing as I shared. The second I finished, my counselor whipped out his Bible, turned to Genesis 3, and preached a thirty-minute message on sin. Bob, it wasn’t even a good sermon! But worse than that, I knew that I was a sinner. I’m clueless as to how my pastoral counselor intended to relate that passage to my situation. At that second, did I need a sermon on my personal sin?”


    Tim did not return for his second session with his pastoral counselor. Instead, he arranged an appointment with a professional Christian counselor. Here is Tim’s rendition of his second counseling experience.


    “Bob, at first things went well. My counselor seemed to be able to relate to me, seemed to have compassion for what I went through. But after two months of counseling I was ready to have him help me move beyond sympathy and empathy. I knew that I wasn’t loving my wife and kids like Christ wanted me to. But my counselor kept telling me that I was too hard on myself and that I was too damaged to love the way I wanted to love.”


    The tale of two counselors. One hears a sordid story of sexual abuse and immediately responds to his sobbing counselee with a sermon on sin. The second hears his counselee’s longing to move beyond damage to dignity, from victim to victory, and informs him that he’s too disabled to function fully. These two diverse approaches illustrate the ongoing divide concerning what makes biblical counseling biblical. Just what is biblical one another ministry?


    Tim’s story forces us to ask ourselves some hard questions. Practical questions such as:


    *In your own life, do you tend to be more on the “truth/Scripture side” or more on the “love/soul side”? Why?


    *Has anyone ever interacted with you like either of Tim’s counselors? What did it feel like? What were the results?


    *What view of the Bible and of “people helping” might have motivated Tim’s counselors?


    *What content does a person need to know to be a biblical counselor, pastoral counselor, lay counselor, spiritual friend, soul physician, mentor, discipler, or people helper?


    The Rest of the Story


    Return tomorrow when we explore how to make one another ministry truly biblical.

  • How to Care Like Christ

    Posted on September 1st, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    How to Care Like Christ

    Introduction: What to Do After the Hug


    What do you do after the hug? Or, if you’re a guy, what do you do after the fist bump and the grunt!


    Whether you’re a pastor in local church ministry or a lay person sipping coffee with a hurting friend at Starbucks or McDonalds, you know what I’m talking about. We can hug. We can care. We can sense our friend’s pain over ongoing suffering and their frustration over besetting sins. But sometimes we struggle, don’t we, to know what to do next? In fact, knowing what to do after the hug can feel like a maze, like we’re lost without a GPS.


    That’s why we want to learn together what to do after the hug. We want to see how the Bible is our GPS: God’s Positioning System! We can learn how to use the Bible accurately, powerfully, and lovingly. We can learn how to change lives with Christ’s changeless truth. We can learn how to care like Christ.


    How do I know that we can? Because the Apostle Paul says so in Romans 15:14. Like him, I am convinced that you are full of goodness (Christlike character), complete in knowledge (biblical content), and competent to counsel (relational competency) one another (Christian community). Through How to Care Like Christ we will grow together in character, content, competency, and community.


    In another letter to another group of struggling Christians, Paul provides our framework for people-helping. “I loved you so much that I gave you not only the Scripture but also my own soul because you were dear to me” (1 Thessalonians 2:8). Between saying he loves them and saying they were dear to him, Paul sandwiches Scripture and soul, truth and love. We wrap our purpose around these two themes: Scripture/truth and soul/love.


    My Scripture/truth goal is to equip you to become a soul physician who offers your parishioners, your counselees, and your spiritual friends Christ-centered, comprehensive, compassionate, and culturally-informed biblical counseling and spiritual formation that changes their lives with Christ’s changeless truth.


    The world says, “All we need is love.” They downplay any need for absolute truth. They dismiss any thought that we need God-inspired insight for living. And in our day, even the church minimizes truth. I had a church ask me, “Could you just breeze through this truth part and focus almost all your time on the practical how-to part?” As if God’s Word is impractical? We must learn to think like Christ—to change lives with Christ’s changeless truth.


    My soul/love goal is to equip you to become a spiritual friend who cares like Christ as you offer others sustaining empathy, healing encouragement, reconciling enlightenment, and guiding empowerment. Some Christians say, “All you need is truth. Just preach the Word.” But God’s Word says we are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). We must learn to love like Christ—to care like Christ.


    Let the journey begin!