Counseling is the aspect of ministry that I am excited about starting. I like how it is put in a pastoral counseling
thesis by Craig Younce. “Pastoral
counseling opportunities are divine appointments with individual members of the
church community” (Younce, 2011) As humans, we have had a sin nature from the
very beginning. We all have fallen into
situations where we needed to speak to someone about the issues in that situation. God puts in positions and places where we have
the opportunity counsel or have a positive impact. I have been a law enforcement officer for 16
years and I wear many hats in that profession.
A counselor is a hat I have worn many times, but not from a pastoral perspective. Since
my calling into ministry I have noticed that when I speak to people in my
profession I use a pastoral aspect, when I can.
Counseling in a pastoral function is different from other types of
counseling. Unlike a secular counselor, pastoral counseling is part of a pastor’s
job description and it sometimes can play a larger role than other roles that the
pastor has. As a pastor, duties include loving, protecting, and caring for
those in the congregation. Pastoral counseling must be counseling that is
rooted in the Bible.
I highlighted the following text in one of our
textbooks. “Theology matters. Understanding people biblically matters. Biblical counselors pursue compassionate and
wise counseling where our love abounds in the depth of the knowledge about the
heart in the world. Our depth of
knowledge of people starts with knowing and applying the written Word and
knowing personally the living Word. It
then moves us to knowing people originally designed—Creation.” (Gospel-Centered Counseling, 2014) Scripture tells us that each of us are uniquely
created by God. “For you created my
inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Holy Bible; NIV, 2013) I took me awhile to figure out who I was in
God and what God created me to do. As we
lead those being counseled to find who God made them to be, we allow them to let
God show them how to resolve issues on their own.
Counseling in ministry utilizes scripture, explaining and
applying them to the counselee’s life.
Sometimes this comes in the form of correcting and training of the
people that need counseling. “All
Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for
correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be
adequate, equipped for every good work”. (2 Timothy 3:16)
Another great aspect of pastoral counseling is that the
pastor can have a relationship with his counselee that remains in place outside
the sessions. The pastor can observe and follow the progression of the church
members that he/she counsels. If the pastor
is counseling someone in the same church the pastor can demonstrate a Christ-like
example for the counselee. If questions
arise about the progression of the relationship the pastor can seek the advice
of others in the church such as deacons and senior leadership, always keeping
in mind whatever confidentiality agreement the pastor has with the counselee. “Without
consultation, plans are frustrated, But with many counselors they succeed.” (Holy Bible;
Negative aspects of pastoral counseling exist as well. Sometimes the pastor is overwhelmed with many
tasks and should be mindful not to take on more than they can handle. Many
churches split the counseling responsibilities among other pastors who are
comfortable with counseling. Care must
always be given to avoid counseling situations that possibly lead to sin.
Pastors should not counsel the opposite sex alone and need to put in place
safeguards for those situations. Judgement should also be used to be certain
that a dependent relationship doesn’t occur between the pastor and the people they
are counseling. The counselor should provide
guidance to the counselee for sole dependence on God and His word.