Confessions of the Counseling Convert

Alumni Spotlight

“Oh, did you hear _____ went to a counselor?” Growing up, I overheard these words spoken at church in a hushed quietness. “Counseling” always had an association with extreme situations—a “crazy aunt” or one of those people locked in the asylum thirty miles from where I lived.

Job’s friends have never sat in my living room but I think some of his relatives have found their way to our couch. You know them. The self-appointed counselors who want to help but always seem to blurt out the phrase not to say. Like …

“Oh, you just need to trust the Lord more.”

“Have you really prayed about it?”

“Oh, it’s not really that bad.”

“I know exactly how you feel.”

“Try looking at the cup half full for once.”

“Trials produce patience!”

“Deal with it!”

“Get over it.”

“It’ll work out.”

“Quit trippin’!”

“Things will get better.”

“Stop complaining. You’re just whining.”

And then the famous … “Remember, all things work together for good!”

Statements like these only reinforce our faulty mentality so we say to ourselves, “I can handle it,” or “I should be able to fix it.”

Unlike our true salvation, my “counseling conversion” came in several phases. First, I realized specialists with the right tools are very effective. I remember a time when I had been working on my car for hours. My hands were cut, burned, greasy, and sore … all in an effort to loosen one little bolt in a spot only accessible to the original manufacturer before they built the rest of the car around it. My neighbor, a mechanic, seeing the hood up stopped to ask if he could help. After hearing me refer to my van with a few “biblical” expletives like “dung,” “hades,” and “white-washed sepulcher,” he asked me what I was trying to do. He went to his toolbox in the back of his truck and pulled out a special double-jointed ratchet. Faster than I could wipe the sweat off my head, he had the bolt off. I stood there stunned, while he replied, “Those bolts are hard to get to but it’s just correct tools and training!”

The second phase in my conversion came when I met good, godly, competent servants trained in knowing how the Lord made people. They know how to meet people’s needs with compassion integrated with Scripture. The Seminary trains many of those servants under the leadership of Dr. Chip Dickens, in the Biblical Counseling Department.

The last phase of my conversion came when I realized Jesus, the Wonderful Counselor, knew exactly how to meet the needs of those around Him. Recently, Dr. Barry Jones, who directs the Seminary’s Spiritual Formation program, spoke in chapel on Jesus’ response to Mary and Martha after the death of their brother, Lazarus. Martha, who wanted to know why, Jesus met with truth. Mary, who came to Him quietly in grief, He met with tears. What have I learned in my counseling conversion?

  1. A healthy walk with the Lord and guidance through His Word may solve many situations but more difficult situations may need special tools.
  2. The right tool in the hands of a trained craftsman is very effective.
  3. One tool doesn’t fix everything. Be sensitive to those around you and to their particular needs.

I am very thankful to those well-trained servants who have the ability, capacity, and sensitivity to encourage and minister to those in need