As a lawyer, I have experienced counseling other people regarding their problems, albeit, on the legal aspect. Aside from legal counseling where provisions of law are consulted in order to address a particular issue, there are various kinds of counseling such as medical and psychological. However, in this article, we will be focusing on pastoral counseling. Other terms for pastoral counseling include spiritual or biblical counseling, because in order to address the issues of a certain counselee, the Word of God, the Bible, is consulted.
We live in a fallen world. As believers of Jesus Christ, we are in a unique position to help those who are suffering by bringing them the light of the Gospel. Very real and practical examples are those people who have suffered the onslaught of super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). Sadly, we have been hearing reports that there were instances of looting, stealing, and even killing committed by the typhoon victims against each other. According to news reports and those who have visited the affected areas, chaos and anarchy now reign therein. The rule of law has been foregone. Apparently, due to their extreme hunger and thirst, they have somewhat forgotten their humanity. These people, among others, especially need the grace and wisdom of God that we Christian counselors could offer. To be sure, they have lots of questions regarding the character of God or the problem of evil. Oftentimes, they wonder how a supposedly loving, compassionate and merciful God could allow such atrocities.
And yet, others would say that all these people need is to hear sermons where the Word of God is expounded. According to Narramore, most pastors realize the importance of the pulpit ministry but some have not fully considered the significance of the counseling ministry. It has been said that a minister who does not place a strong emphasis on counseling is only “half a minister.” Counseling, insofar as it is more personal in approach, is more effective in addressing the specific needs of individuals rather than a sermon, which employs a “shotgun” approach. During the homily, the respective problems and issues of those seated in the pews may or may not be addressed.
Nevertheless, there are some important factors that we need to consider when it comes to counseling. First is the counselor himself. The effectiveness of a counseling session largely depends on the skill and character of the counselor. People won’t just go to any counselor regardless of his academic and professional qualifications. What is more important is that the Christian counselor is mature in his walk with God as evidenced by the way he lives his life. In most cases, the only Bible that other people will read is us. Counseling is, in a sense, a projection of the counselor. The counselee must see in us the wisdom of God. Wisdom that is pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. As Christian counselors, there must still be real compassion and love for the sinner without any sympathy for sin.