• 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.

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