On Counseling

It bothers me to hear from fellow pastors that they are not doing counseling, at least, no more than a session or two. It seems that they have bought into the philosophy that they are somehow not qualified to help people with their problems like a “professional” counselor is. This is dangerous thinking. A pastor usually has 4, sometimes 8 – 10 years of formal education in the word of God. Their very calling as a shepherd requires them to use Scripture to help people live productive lives that will be blessed by God. Is this not counseling? How can one justify sending a hurting, confused person that you are spiritually responsible for, from your flock, to an outside person? It is an abrogation of one’s responsibility.

Unless there is a medical problem that is suspected, there should not be a referral to an outside person, especially if the one being referred to isn’t even a Christian! Every problem has a sin component to it. It is the pastors job to help identify the problem. Without identifying the sin(s) contributing or causing a persons problem, remedy cannot be made. The pastor needs to lead them to confess and repent of said sin and make restitution where possible. The person must then be given godly habits to instill and accountability with their lifestyle so that there is not a relapse. This holds true for marriage counseling, family counseling, addictive behaviors, etc.

It is time for pastors to stop being lazy, stop buying into the lie that they are not capable of counseling, and get involved in the lives of their people. It is easy to preach, easy to lead meetings – it is hard work to actually shepherd a people and care for them. To say you don’t know how means you are admitting you don’t know how to take God’s Word and apply it to real life. You need to repent of your laziness and have the integrity to stop calling yourself a pastor or repent of your ignorance of how to use God’s Word and go and learn.

Do you care enough about your people to help them? Do you know enough to help them? Its time to stop playing church, stop playing leader and learn how to serve as God calls us to serve.

Weekly Writing Challenge: From Mundane to Meaningful – A Conference Surprises

17 years of meetings. Another conference in another city. Different topic, different speakers but overall the same. A few notes written, a few ideas stolen and then life returns to normal. Except this week. I wasn’t expecting much out of the conference. In fact, I didn’t even remember what the theme of this conference was. I just thought it would be a nice retreat with my family since this was one of the few all of us could attend. Little did I know I would be ambushed by something profound and meaningful.

It turns out that the theme for this conference was “Sifted”. It was a marriage retreat in disguise. From speakers to counselors and testimonies of peer couples, we were exposed to a time whose goal was to strengthen marriages. Even worse, the conference had built in accountability. We were given homework to do both individually and as a couple, and then in the next session we discussed our answers.

I then understood why they had counselors. We each had to (after a seminar on the 5 greatest needs in a man’s and a woman’s life) grade ourselves on how well we thought we were doing in each area. Then we graded our spouse on how well they were doing meeting our needs. Then the twist – we had to get alone with our spouse and reveal the answers to each other – needless to say they did not always agree! On the upside, I believe each of us left the conference having been open and honest, as well as beginning to work on issues that needed addressing.

If I had known in advance what the conference was really going to be about, I would not have gone. Too much pride, too much fear of vulnerability, too much worry about peer approval. Now I am glad I did go. My family will be better for it because I learned what I needed to change.

Now if only all conferences could be so meaningful…