For this week’s blog, we’d like to give you a personal glimpse of our own hearts as biblical counselors. In Galatians 6:2, Paul says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Bearing one another’s burdens – this is the calling of all Christians in general and of the manner in which we aim to counsel at BCTM in particular. It is a calling that is both a privilege and a Kingdom-minded burden.
We often thank the people we meet with for the privilege of allowing us into their stories, for the honor of being trusted with the intimate details of their lives. And we mean it every time we say it! But even more than that, what a privilege to be a small instrument in the hands of the Redeemer, a vehicle of His grace to them! What a privilege to be able to shine His marvelous light into the darkness of the fallen hearts and broken lives of our brothers and sisters. We often ask ourselves, “Who are we to bear witness to such a movement of the Holy Spirit in the lives of God’s people in a fallen world?!” Faith comes by hearing the word of Christ (Rom. 10:17), and what a humbling honor for the Lord to use our unclean lips to speak the word of Christ into their particular situation.
And yet what a burden, but a Kingdom-minded burden – because we share in these struggles with you! Ed Welch, who is my (Chase’s) dear friend and mentor, a man of God, a faithful and loving husband, a professor and biblical counselor, often reminds us: If you aren’t moved by a person’s story, then your counseling will not be truly helpful. It is part of the calling of the counselor to be affected by those we walk with. This is one of the hallmarks of biblical counseling: We intentionally do not maintain clinical expert-to-patient distance, but move toward the counselee in brotherly compassion and empathy.
But there is a line to walk. On the one hand, we should be affected by those who ask for help. Asking for true help, by the way, is such a mark of God’s children. On the other hand, we can never forget that there is only one True Counselor – the Lord Himself. In and of ourselves, we cannot fix people’s hearts, relationships, and situations. Only the Triune God has the power to do that. As the sinful nature persists, there is a part of us that wants to help when we see someone hurting, and there is nothing wrong with that. But there is something wrong when, rather than trusting them to the care of God and praying for The Lord to work in their lives, we desire to play God and do the work ourselves. We think, “I can fix this situation if I can just say the right word, find the right Scripture, ask the right question.” That is neither good for us nor good for them. At that point, we’ve stopped pointing them to the only One who can help them and instead we are pointing them to ourselves – measly jars of clay.
On the outside, it may not look like much of a difference between being an instrument in the hands of the Redeemer and attempting to be a redeemer ourselves. The people we meet with may not sense the difference. But, there certainly is a radical difference! It is an attempt to carry a different kind of “burden,” the burden of redemption that we know we were never meant to carry. A burden that we know only the Savior himself can and should and does carry.
The most helpful thing we’ve found in walking this “line” is a regular habit of prayer for the people we’re meeting with. These times of prayer are doubly beneficial. It is beneficial for the counselee because we’re petitioning God on their behalf to work in their lives. But it is also beneficial for us, because it reminds us that this is His work, not ours (Phil 1:6, 2:13); and it reminds us that salvation – past, present, and future – belongs to Him, not us (Psalm 3:8, Rev. 7:10). We are learning how to apply Isaiah 30:15 to the work of counseling: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
As you finish reading this, would you say a prayer for us and our families – that we would grow in oneness as He, The Father and Spirit are One, and that we would be disciplined and faithful to do this work of helping others connect life and Scripture in a Kingdom-minded way?
Grace and Peace to you all, Chase and David
If you are interested in bringing this or any other Roundtable Counseling discussion to your church or business in a relaxed, interactive environment, please contact us at 601-709-8254 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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