If you’ve begun reading this, I commend you! Foolish is that person who doesn’t perceive his need for counsel. Your choice to learn more about seeking counsel is a wise one indeed.
Admittedly, as a Bible-believing Christian, I approach the topic of choosing a counselor with the bias that the Bible contains the answers to life’s problems. In my opinion, counsel devoid of biblical principle is empty of spiritually nutritional value.
So whether you’re scheduling an appointment with your pastor, meeting your trusted friend for lunch, sharing some quality time with your grandmother, or asking a godly mentor for some timely advice, consider these qualities of an effective counselor:
Although he might not have a seminary degree hanging on the wall nearby, does the person whose counsel you are seeking have a life saturated by the Word of God? Does he have the ability to bring the Bible to bear upon the situations of life? What are the evidences of his wise counsel in the lives of those who are closest to him?
Biblical counsel is more than pop psychology with a Bible verse patronizingly footnoting it. It is weighty counsel, laden with clearly applicable Bible verses and relevant Bible narratives. When it is not substantiated by the life-giving truths of the Bible, counsel merely spray paints the rustiness of our problems and does nothing to postpone the ongoing damage of the progressing corrosion.
The danger of always seeking counsel from one’s BFF or favorite family member is that she enters the situation with bias. This is not to say that a godly friend or family member cannot be a good counselor, only that she must overcome the temptation to view the situation with the prejudice such relationships bring.
The person seeking counsel must remind herself that her own view will inevitably be somewhat subjective. It is only as we apply the objective lens of biblical counsel that we can even begin to frame our situations accurately. A lack of neutrality smudges the lens.
A potential downside to choosing a neutral counselor is that you will choose a counselor who has no working knowledge of your issue. All of what the counselor will know about it will be supplied by you. That can be dangerous, because we all tend to share information selectively in order to place ourselves in the best light.
Endeavor to balance the qualities of neutral and knowledgeable by selecting counselors that know something about you and the other person (if the counsel indeed involves another person) and/or the nature of the problem you are facing (finances, addictions, abuse, child-rearing, etc.). Although knowledge differs from wisdom, it is requisite to wisdom.
Seek counsel from somebody that will not shrink from telling you what you need to hear. A good counselor will listen carefully, pray sincerely, deliberate sufficiently, apply biblically, and then advise courageously.
Counselors are less than brave when they:
- simply “pile on” the person who is not in the room.
- merely validate the hurt feelings of the person seeking counsel.
- only teach the principle without providing and insisting upon actionable steps.
- naively assume that change does not include confrontation.
Obviously, it is the Word of God that changes lives, but God has designed that people help people. In the issue you are facing, pray for wisdom to choose neutral and knowledgeable people who will biblically and courageously counsel you to honor God!