3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Calling a Biblical Counselor
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The apostle Paul instructed his Corinthian audience to examine themselves, to see if they were "in the faith" (2 Cor. 13:5). In some like manner, I'd like to encourage those who are considering making the phone call for counseling to "examine themselves" to see if they're truly ready to commit to the work of soul care.
I suggest this because of the prevalence of counselee complaints I see in social media and hear about "through the grapevine." Unfortunately, it's not all that uncommon to read someone's account of failed counseling efforts. One common thread, however, is that I've never read someone's story that had them failing the process as a counselee. Somehow, it's always the counselor's failure that led to their demise.
Let me be clear: Counselors are people, too, and therefore sinners in need of a savior and grace from their neighbor. Counselors are fallible, and thus capable of error, but hopefully not error of any intentional, malicious variety. They must always be about the business of reading and life-long learning in their field in order to maintain their skills. One thing every biblical counselor keeps in the back of their mind is that in some way, shape, or form, the counsel they dispense is as much for themselves as it is for the person sitting across from them.
No one is a biblical counselor because they've "arrived."
A counselee needs to have real interest in pursuing gospel-driven, Christ-centered change.
Having said that, can I just say that I've met more than one counselee who did not "count the cost" (or perhaps even refused to do so) of following Christ in the course of biblical soul care (Luke 14:25-34). I can say, with all due humility, that some counselees do indeed arrive as "stiff-necked," "idle" persons who have no real interest in pursuing gospel-driven, Christ-centered change (Acts 7:51; 2 Thess. 5:14).
The counselees of whom I speak are those who are not dissatisfied with their continued dabbling with sin, but simply its inconvenient consequences. They are people who are not actually open to rebuke at any level, but who in fact came looking for validation of their poor choices. They refuse to see their role in the tortured state of their marriage but know a priorithat their spouse is the one who must change (contra Luther's "all of life is to be lived in repentance"). They are people who, once biblical wisdom was clearly set before them, decided that Freud's advice would be better suited to their needs.
I hope my point is becoming apparent in these varied examples. I want to encourage everyone everywhere: if you think you might be in need of biblical soul care, pursue that effort. By all means, your biblical counselor, I'm convinced, desires to come alongside you in whatever condition you find yourself right now, or whatever situation you face, as a committed burden-bearer (Gal. 6:2).
Therefore, get ready to make that call! Yet, before you do, ask yourself these three hard questions:
Am I truly ready to progressively enter into an increasingly transparent relationship in which the intimate details of my life and experiences will be brought into the light with someone who was previously a stranger to me?
Am I ready and willing to own whatever culpability is rightfully mine before the eyes of God, before whose face we live (coram Deo)?
Will I commit to making my appointments when it's inconvenient and to completing my assigned homework?
The above questions are not even remotely exhaustive, but I can attest by way of experience that those counselees who answer them positively (in word and deed) are the most likely to see positive outcomes in counseling. They are also the ones for whom I am most thankful, as I get a front row seat to all that the Spirit is doing in their life.
So, before you call the counselor, ask yourself: Which kind of counselee will I be?
Scripture and Counseling: God's Word for Life in a Broken World by Bob Kellemen