Who are we as biblical counselors? We are called to be helpful, but first and foremost, we must be found to be faithful, safe, and truthful. If we are not these things our counseling relationships will fail to be a place where counselees can bring the truth about themselves.
A counselee will often bring truth that they fear to express. They will be facing difficult things that can only be brought forth in the context of safety.
We often hear that counseling needs to include care, empathy, and concern, but love is not often considered a necessary component of good counseling. We who know Christ are called to love. How can a counselee who does not know the Lord see how loving He is when their conception of God is so marred by the pain and trauma they have faced? They will see by looking at us. When there is a flaw in our loving, we will make it harder for them to comprehend the love of God.
The way of love is described to us in I Corinthians 13. It is only a patient love that can sit faithfully with the scars of the pain of another. A love that is not self-seeking is crucial for those who have been deeply wounded by those who were meant to teach the way of love. Love does not take in account a wrong suffered. Many times, a counselee will bring the worst parts of themselves and struggle with them into counseling. Love, protects, hopes, and perseveres. These are qualities that demonstrated faithfully will be vital to effective counseling.
It is a part of the counselor’s job to bring out the voice of their counselee. Counselors must have the capacity to draw out the voice of a counselee who may have been silenced and felt powerless for many years. The counselor helps the counselee to find their own voice and exercise their God-given power.
Counseling in essence is incarnational and redemptive in process and purpose. The counselor brings the counselee to true life as embodies in the person of Christ. We learn from the very beginning that God created us to be relational (Genesis 2:18). Our love only works well when our relationship to God is in its proper place. When our relationship with God is no longer central to our lives, we experience spiritual death.
The original relationship to God was broken by the sin of Adam and Eve. God opened the way to restoration by becoming like us, in becoming flesh and blood, His Son, Jesus, entered into our world and life experience. Jesus came to restore relationship. Jesus incarnate is God’s power unleashed: “I came that they might have life,” (John 10:10). There is no power greater than the power that came to create new life. As counselors, believers, and helpers we are called to live out the mystery of the Incarnation. Jesus became incarnate for the reason of explaining the nature of God the Father. Our lives are to explain the character of God to others. We are to be the message of who God is, even as we bear the burdens of others, and enter into their pain.
This certainly means that we put truth into words. To live incarnationally means that all of our lives public or private are a living illustration of God himself. We demonstrate who God is as we are becoming like Him, entering into the humanity of others, and being conformed to His image.
Jesus came to bring life out of death, light into the darkness and to bring the presence of God to bear on all wounds. Jesus’ incarnation was for the purpose of redeeming human beings so they might reflect once again the image of God.
It is our privilege to bring the presence of God to bear on the results of evil so that what was done will now become made new. Counseling and ministering to others is the working out of transforming redemption in a life shattered and scarred by evil. As we enter into the lives of others, bearing the image of Christ in us, we will see the work of redemption unfold. As we bow to the working out of redemption in our own lives, we will find that the life of God in us begets after its own likeness in those we minister to. Are we faithfully allowing ourselves to be conformed to His image so we can minister the Christ in us into their lives?