One true evidence of a church growing the right way (numerically, biblically, and spiritually) is the growth of the counseling load. I probably counsel anywhere from 1 – 5 students a week. I love to see people come in for counseling because it means the gospel preached is revealing sin, God’s holiness, our need for repentance, and the necessity for Christ to be glorified.
As our last KTL preacher spoke on Job 2 – 37 “Oprah and Other Christless Counselors”, I taught our college Sunday school class the next Sunday on Biblical vs. Psychological Counseling. Here are a few points I made sure to get a cross.
Biblical and psychological counseling are completely different. Biblical counseling starts with a set of presuppositions, such as: there is a God, all humanity struggles with sin, the Bible is the only true source for solutions to sin, salvation in Christ is necessary for life change, Christ died for sin and rose from the dead for our salvation, eternity with Christ is the ultimate goal for humanity. Biblical counseling continues with identifying the true problem with every situation: sin and personal evil (James 1). Biblical counseling identifies its method: mind transformation through God’s authoritative Scriptures (Rom 12:2). The tool in which biblical counseling exercises its method is through the Scriptures and the church. And the goal for every counseling scenario is that Christ would ultimately get the glory from every situation.
Most psychological counseling has a completely set of presuppositions, such as: all of life comes from evolution, all of life is about secular humanism and the glory of humanity, and all of life can best be understood through postmodernism (there is no absolute truth, right, or wrong). Psychological counseling sees each person’s problem as subjective since the absolutely authority of God’s Word is not obeyed. The counselor merely wants to fix the counselee’s problem in a way that is best for them. The different methods that psychological counseling uses is up to around 250 nuances. They can’t agree on the best method, so they continue to follow the different teachings of Skinner, Freud, Oprah, Dr. Phil, or make up their own. The tool they use to counsel people are merely human reason, research, and medicine. The goal of the psychological counselor is to get their counselee back into the balance of life, make them happy, comfort them, and return them to any kind of normalcy without destructive behavior.
A quick disclaimer: I do not believe that all psychological counseling or use of medicine is wrong or useless. There is so much about the brain, body’s chemicals, etc that I do not understand. I realize that there are some medicines that can be helpful at the least for a short amount of time to get the person back to a state of normalcy so that we can counsel them toward Christ. I do believe that there can be mental disorders, chemical imbalances, and dysfunctions that occur that are not a result of personal sin.
Now, here is the big question… What is the best way to counsel someone with the presuppositions of biblical counseling toward transformation into Christ’s image? Here is what I have studied, been taught, learned, and experienced to work best.
1. Gather Data: Listen to the person for as long as they can talk about their problem. When they are done, ask more pointed questions. Get all the information you possibly can. Don’t guess at the problem. Jot down short notes that you want to remember. Don’t talk. Just listen. Make sure you understand everything as fully as possible from every person in the room.
2. Reveal the Road: Give them a clear picture of where the road the roads leads that they are going down. Show them where their sin will lead them, what their life will look like in years to come if they don’t deal with their sin, and how miserable their sin will make them.
3. Give Hope: Give them a clear picture of how their life will be different now and later if they obey God and follow Christ through repentance and faith…dealing biblically with their problem at hand.
4. Instruction: Take them to the Word of God and give them biblical answers and truth on their problem and their solution. Show them their sin and how to correct it (2 Tim 3:16-17). Also, point them to the gospel. Make every matter an issue of the gospel. Sin is walking away from Christ, obedience is following Christ. Repentance can only come through the cross. Obedience can only come through the resurrection. The power of Christ must be displayed in every counseling conversation.
5. Homework: Give them specific homework with strategies and goals to work on. Have someone hold them accountable to complete it until they see you again the next time.
6. Pray: Pray with them so that they know that you’re not trusting in your own counseling power, but only God can change their life through the Holy Spirit and the power of the Gospel of Christ found in God’s Word!