In college I took six semesters of biblical languages. It was required. I also took one required counseling class. One. I have had thousands of requests from people seeking my help in counseling them. I have never (so far) had someone call me at 3am with a problem interpreting the meaning of the Greek aorist tense.
Now, I do not want to denigrate theological training. It’s imperative that our pastors are hermeneutically sound (some issues we are having right now stem from a lack thereof). I do believe we are skewed in the side of the theological, and neglectful in the practical. That is especially apparent in the lack of available counseling options for our members.
Sound biblical counselors are important for three reasons:
- The resistance to biblical counseling is real.
I don’t know how it is in other demographic segments, but in the Hispanic culture counseling is seen as either a sign of weakness or a worldly, non-Christian practice. I mean, why would you go to counseling if you have God? As with other issues, prayer is important, but not enough. There are some things you can’t just pray away.
- The need for counseling is real.
It has been alarming to discover that counseling is more needed in the segments and areas that need it the most. Many problems lie just below the surface that revolve around the three A’s of dysfunction:
From those three dastardly seeds grow the trees Absalonic Adventists hang themselves from. Another reality is that many times good Christian counseling is either unavailable or inaccessible because of lack of funds. If you are a pastor in a city where there is more than one church, you could join with other churches and fund this valuable service. One of my friends Nicole Parker, who is a counselor describes the amount of requests she gets as “overwhelming”. She is not alone. This is very common with the counselors I meet.
- The correct process is needed.
Pastors are expected to be counselors, yet we were never trained to do so. After experiencing some epic fails I suggest the following three step process:
I tell people that came to me with emotional needs or scars that the process of healing would not be easy, fast, or to be done in isolation. My own wife went through counseling for one year before we got married for scars from her past. I saw the positive effects of a biblical counselor first hand.
Hopefully we can work together to help the ones who need it most.