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BIBLICAL HOPE WITH PRACTICAL HELP
WALK IN THE WISDOM OF GOD
Do people periodically ask you for advice?
Do you sometimes lack confidence that your counsel is the best that it could be?
How can you be better prepared when God guides you to give help and hope to someone in need?
Never go against the Word of God, even if it means going against the grain of public acceptance. Regardless of what “the world” says is right, you will never go wrong when you stay true to God’s Word. The Book of Psalms begins with these two verses.
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful;but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2 NKJV)
What Biblical Counseling IS:
Biblical counseling means you rely on truths from the Word of God as you seek to give wise counsel. Hebrews 4:12 says . . . “The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Isaiah 9:6 is one of the most well known Messianic Scriptures, describing the Lord as the “Wonderful Counselor.”
What Biblical Counseling IS NOT:
Biblical Counseling is not giving your own personal advice. You may have an idea and be readily available to share what someone needs to do to “fix” their problems, but biblical counseling is not giving easy one-size-fits-all answers to difficult problems. Nor is Biblical Counseling the same assecular counseling; Pop psychology and secular humanism have gained broad acceptance, even within the church. Being the best person, spouse or Christian is be a worthy goal and, likewise, church fellowship and support are important, but your model for change is not to merely be a better version of yourself but to be more and more like Christ. This total transformation is God’s will for you and can only be accomplished in the power of the Holy Spirit through the strength of Christ.
John the Baptist, the greatest man born of woman outside of Christ Himself, had a much different desire than the world of his time. His heartfelt prayer was, “I must decrease. He must increase” (John 3:30).
Christ-centered counseling is giving advice, encouragement, and hope to others based on biblical truth, while relying on Christ to provide the power for change. Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (NKJV)”
What is the major responsibility of a person giving counsel?
For your counseling to have maximum effectiveness, you must live in total dependence on Christ, seeking His will. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
Biblical counselors must also always be mindful to “sharpen the ax,” to hone their counseling skills by praying, spending time in God’s Word, and gleaning insight from biblical scholars and ministry professionals in the counseling field. Abraham Lincoln aptly portrays the wisdom of pausing . . . for potentially greater effectiveness: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
Criteria for Counseling
“What does the word ‘counseling’ mean?”
Counseling is help and hope given by a knowledgeable person to another. The counsel given can range from general advice and guidance to personal comfort and encouragement.
“For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”
(2 Corinthians 1:5)
“What qualifies you to give counsel?”
You already have relationships with friends and family, and you know their struggles.
“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.”
“Who needs counseling?”
More than one-half of all people who see medical doctors go because of symptoms rooted in psychological or spiritual problems.
“The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.”
“Who is qualified to give biblically correct counsel?”
Any Christian who has a personal walk with God, who is deeply committed to Jesus Christ, and is led by the Holy Spirit is qualified to comfort and counsel others.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
(2 Corinthians 1:3–4)
The Seven S’s of Spiritual Wisdom
- The solutions are not your solutions. (John 14:26)
- The self-sufficiency you lean on should be replaced with Christ-sufficiency. (John 15:5)
- The Spirit of Christ is your counselor, enabling you to counsel with truth. (John 16:13)
- The Scriptures will light the way as you help others walk out of darkness. (Psalm 119:105)
- The success of your counseling is not dependent on your knowing all the answers. (Proverbs 3:5–6)
- The sin of another should never be confronted with a condemning spirit. (1 Peter 3:15–16)
- The secret of victory over sin is relying on the power of the indwelling presence of Christ. (Philippians 4:13)
Attitudes That Make a Difference
- Respect is communicated by having a basic belief that everyone is created in the image of God. (Genesis 1:26)
- Attentiveness is communicated by closing the door to your own thoughts and focusing on listening and observing. (Proverbs 24:32)
- Availability is communicated by your willingness to give the other person your full presence and attention for an appropriate length of time. (Ecclesiastes 4:10)
- Empathy is communicated by entering into the other person’s world, both thinking the thoughts and feeling the emotions. (Romans 12:15)
- Encouragement is communicated by maintaining a spirit of hope and optimism. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
- Sincerity is communicated by being yourself, being honest, and being vulnerable to another. (1 Timothy 1:5)
Practical Counseling: How Do I Do It?
- Physical Preparation
- Provide a private, relaxing place to talk.
- Eliminate distractions.
- Prevent interruptions.
- Avoid physical barriers.
- Change lighting to reduce glare.
- Keep counseling aids handy.
- Place facial tissues and drinking water within reach.
- Personal Nonverbal Nurturing
- Smile when greeting.
- Shake hands or use another appropriate greeting.
- Situate chairs in close proximity.
- Slant your body slightly forward
- Sustain good eye contact.
- Stay open and approachable.
- Show a nod of head occasionally.
- Probe for the Real Problem
- Call the person by name.
- Don’t engage in small talk or surface chitchat.
- Ask a direct question.
- Don’t ask, “What’s your problem?”
- Realize that the presenting problem is often not the real problem.
- Above all else, communicate hope.
- Past Experiences
- Ask background questions regarding family, home, school, dating, and work.
- Ask open-ended questions that cannot be answered with yes or no.
- Encourage further talk.
- Listen to what feelings are being shared.
- Listen to what is not shared.
- Don’t ask a question that contains the answer.
- Explore messages received during childhood and youth from significant people.
- Pitfalls to Avoid
- Don’t give false assurances.
- Don’t minimize the experience.
- Don’t fail to consult/refer to professionals.
- Don’t take death threats lightly.
- Don’t drop advice.
- Don’t take over the role of “savior.”
Plan to Address These Needs
“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:5–6)
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God desires to give you hope as you face life challenges, problems and difficult trials. The good news for us, God specializes in redemption and transformation. He takes that which was lost and restores it. He takes that which was dead and gives it life. He takes that which had no hope and rewrites its story. This is our God! As you pray today, ask God boldly to transform the thing inside you that you want to see changed forever!
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