Shepherd, Don’t Just Ship Out!

Alumni Spotlight

Marital distress, depression, anger, anxiety, sexual abuse, trauma, grief, alcoholism, substance abuse, conflict, parenting, and relationship problems … life is messy. But all these and the many other expressions of sin and a fallen world never affect Christians and the church. Right? Okay, that’s ridiculous. Brokenness is normal.

Jesus’ ability and willingness to enter into our messiness inspires me. Consider His encounter with the leper in Matthew 8. I marvel at Jesus’ power and authority over sin and struggle. Jesus’ love prompted Him to physically touch the unclean man with leprosy to heal him. That moves me.

Living a life of ministry demands that we embed ourselves in other peoples’ lives, often very chaotic lives. As a ministry leader, one of the most challenging decisions to make is, “When do I need to refer to a professional counselor?”

Too often Christian communities cannot tolerate the disheveled nature of peoples’ lives and too quickly want to refer them out to a professional to “fix” them. Let someone else clean them up and send them back to the church community. This attitude is not Christian or biblical! While at times it’s necessary to refer to a professional counselor, our first impulse should be to shepherd and care for our people ourselves, not outsource them.

God designed the Christian community for this purpose. He uses unique people entrenched in a person’s life to provide care. God has also gifted members of His body with the counseling skills and professional training to care for His people. As part of a person’s treatment, it may be necessary to add a trained counselor within the church to the network of caring people.

In leading the Department of Biblical Counseling at DTS, it has been my pleasure to have trained and worked alongside many counselors who have both the biblical understanding and sensitivity to work within the Christian community. Unfortunately, finding not only a counselor but the right counselor to complement the existing care network of the Christian community can be a challenge.

In addition, sometimes a problem requires more time or expertise than is represented in the church community and then it is necessary to look for an outside resource. The Find a Counselor page on the DTS website, under Resources, provides a list of many DTS and other qualified counselors.

This site helps locate counselors in a particular geographical area. Help the hurting. Surround them with those who value biblical principles and understand the benefits of working within a church community for a complete program of shepherding and care.