• 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.

  • Christ’s Resurrection Power for Abuse in Marriage

    Posted on July 3rd, 2009 bob.kellemen No comments

    Counseling and Abuse in Marriage

    Part 7: Christ’s Resurrection Power


    Summary: Marital abuse is one of the most traumatic issues an individual, couple, family, and church can face. Discussing it raises hotly defended convictions. How should God’s people respond to “abuse in marriage”?


    Today, in my final blog post in this mini-series, I have some words to share for various individuals and groups.


    *To the spouse experiencing abuse

    *To the abusive spouse

    *To pastors, counselors, and spiritual friends

    *To the Body of Christ


    To the Spouse Experiencing Abuse


    Please, do not suffer in silence. Please, do not suffer alone.


    I know, sometimes telling others can mean being revictimized because they disbelieve you, minimize, give pat answers, etc.


    I know, depending on the situation, you’ve been told, “This is a private, family issue.” Or, you’ve been threatened if you tell anyone else.


    Still, find a safe way to tell a safe person and get help for yourself, your marriage, your family.


    Even if your spouse will not seek help, you need the support of others. Even one person changing—you—changing the dynamics of the situation.


    We think of abuse being from husband to wife. However, my ministry experience and the private responses to this blog tell me that many wives are being abusive to their husbands. Husbands—get help. Overcome the stigma and be a shepherd in your home by facing the issue.


    We care. I care. The Body of Christ cares. Most importantly, Christ cares.


    To the Abusive Spouse


    You can stop. Christ’s resurrection power is available.


    Get help. Go to the Lord. Go to the Word. Go to your pastor. Get an accountability partner and an accountability group.

    Humble yourself before God. Face reality. Deal with your inner heart issues. Change your behavior. Renew your heart and renew your home.


    To Pastors, Counselors, and Spiritual Friends


    Always remember 1 Thessalonians and the two “ingredients” in Paul’s “love sandwich”:


    “I loved you so much that I was delighted to give you not only the Scriptures but my very own soul, because you were dear to me” (1 Thess. 2:8).


    Paul starts and ends his words with love. In between these two “slices” of life, he inserts the two fundamental “ingredients” of Scripture and soul.


    Truly biblical counseling begins and ends with love. It is speaking the truth in love. It is love abounding in depth of insight.


    Truly biblical counseling is not impersonal; it is not preaching at, it is intimately engaging others with Christ’s pure love.


    And truly biblical counseling involves both truth and love, both Scripture and soul. Engage the abusive marital situation from the context of the Word of God, not where you preach at, but where you converse, dialogue, and trialogue (you the counselor, the counselee, and the Divine Counselor).


    Don’t victimize the victim. Love the spouse being abused. Equip him or her to live with bold love.


    Don’t minimize the abuse, care-front the abusive spouse in love. Empower the abusive spouse to change by tapping into Christ’s resurrection power.


    Be for the marriage and be for God’s glory.


    To the Body of Christ


    Let’s stop the silence.


    Scores of people responded to me privately saying, “It’s about time someone talked about this in Christian circles.”


    Preach and teach and do small group lessons on “texts of terror” in the Old Testament—which is not silent about abuse, especially males abusing women.


    Preach and teach and do small group lessons on marriage.


    Preach and teach and do small group lessons on God’s compassion for those who are victimized.


    May we speak the truth in love so that the whole body grows together in truth and love. So that the onlooking world marvels at the way the church honestly handles this vital issue. So that the world witnesses in real life Christ’s resurrection power.