By Whitney Nadeau
In what areas are you most apt to provide counsel?
In a society where much is professionalized, we often are drawn toward providing only the services we feel equipped to offer.
Spiritual formation is left to the leadership of a church. Educational development is conceded to teachers. Counseling is entrusted to certified counselors. Parents, especially, seek biblically sound professionals to preach, teach, and counsel their children to grow in godliness and gospel centrality.
Paul Tripp, however, challenges our understanding of the roles we play, namely as counselors, with or without a professional title and degree:
We should be concerned about the thousands of hours of formal counseling that are not based on God’s Word. But we should also be concerned about the far greater amount of counseling that goes on every day between people who do not know what they are doing and people who do not know how much they are being influenced. If you are alive on this planet, you are a counselor! You are interpreting life, and sharing those interpretations with others. You are a person of influence, and you are also being influenced…The issue is not who is counseling. All of us are. The core issue is whether that counseling is rooted in the revelation of the Creator.
You will be called upon in your family and your community to counsel, if you are not already doing so. The term "counsel," though, does not need to evoke feelings of anxiousness and fear. Counsel is weighty, but you have not been left without a source of wisdom, strength, and direction.
Counsel With the Word
Often we hear the word "counsel" and think of certifications and schooling, and as such, remove our own responsibility to counsel. While there are professional biblical counselors providing a necessary service, you as a follower of Christ have not been given a pass to speak truth from God’s Word.
Paul exhorts, “I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.” (Rom. 15:14)
God has provided His Word and His Spirit to give you the essential instruction to counsel. You need to look no further than the Psalms to see that the Word, which you have access to, is provided for counsel:
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night. (Ps. 1:1-2)
That law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. (Ps. 19:7-9)
Supplemental texts are always helpful to grow in understanding of people and their experiences, but Scripture alone is sufficient to give you the wisdom necessary to counsel.
Ed Welch remarks that even with the Spirit and the Word, “We remain fully capable of saying stupid and harmful things. But it does mean that our ability to help will bear the marks of the Spirit, such as patience and kindness.”
Counsel Toward a Relationship
Often we hear the word "counsel" and think of providing steps or a plan.
Steps to respond patiently and not angrily. Steps to reconcile a broken relationship or marriage. Steps to stop the cycle of addiction, doubt, or fear.
Counsel, however, is more about moving toward the Wonderful Counselor (Is. 9:6) than it is moving toward right living.
Ed Welch teaches, “Though many of us assume that change involves a plan with a series of steps, change on the heart level centers on knowing a person.”
Counsel is more than what our society has labeled it. Counsel is about taking the source God has provided for truth, His Word, and using it to grow in an understanding of Who we are and Whose we are.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. (2 Cor. 5:17-20)
As one who counsels others toward a relationship with Christ, we will be called to persevere.
Paul Tripp simply states:
We would prefer to lob grenades of truth into people’s lives rather than lay down our lives for them.” We counsel toward a relationship as we die so that others may live through sacrificing finances and time. We counsel toward a relationship as we, with the help of the Spirt, choose patience and compassion.
Counsel for Restoration
Often we hear the word "counsel" and think of healing.
Healing from past trauma. Healing from present suffering. Healing from destructive thoughts, physical ailments, and harmful habits. Counsel is about healing, but it is about much more than a temporary fix or a momentary freedom.
Christ died so that we could be restored to the Father, reconciled to one another, and not just healed, but made new. Counsel is not advice to fix brokenness, but a reminder through God’s Word and God’s people of the death and resurrection of Christ that is restoring and renewing all that was broken, including our past, present, and future (2 Cor. 4:16).
Paul exhorts the churches in Galatia,
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal. 6:1-2)
You need not be a certified counselor to help people grow in Christ. Who are the people in your life that God is calling you to lay down your life for? To whom is God calling you to sacrifice your time and finances?
It won’t be easy to do. Counseling others toward a relationship with Christ never is. Remember, your Heavenly Father is with you and your help comes from Him (Ps. 121:2).