Mark Shaw

Are You Discipling Your Replacement, Part 1

August 9, 2011

Mark Shaw

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Mark Shaw

Are You Discipling Your Replacement Part One

No one likes to imagine scenarios like the following one, as horrible as it is, but consider this dilemma: What if tonight you had a car accident that left you incapacitated to such an extent that you were unable to perform your ministry duties for a period of five months? What would happen to the ministry the Lord has entrusted to you during that time? Would its impact grow, slow, or shrink?

These are challenging questions. Of course God is sovereign and uses all things to work together for His glory and our ultimate good, so these types of scenarios are not to invoke fear of the future in you, but fear of the One who holds the future: God!

Discipleship Is the Mandate

The reason I ask these questions is to make us all consider just what we are doing in ministry and what our purpose must be. Matthew 28:18-20 states: “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'”

We read these Scriptures and often overlook the mandate and undervalue its urgency. Christ didn’t tell us to build big ministries, big buildings, large churches, and write books (I have been guilty of those goals at times!). Jesus commanded us to make disciples who observe His biblical commands. Are we making disciples? If so, what are our methods? How are we making followers of Christ?

If you were absent from your ministry and unable to perform any of your duties for several months, what would happen to what the Lord has entrusted to you? Who would step in for you to serve the ones you are currently serving? Are you intentionally and relationally pouring into someone in ministry with you, developing that person’s skills and expertise, and more importantly, are you making that person into a committed disciple of Christ, “teaching him to observe”?

A Team Solution

God’s wisdom in His Word is so incredible and applicable to many situations. One verse that I love is Luke 10:1: “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go.” I love the simple wisdom of Christ to send out His followers two by two. Why can’t we do ministry in pairs, especially in the context of biblical counseling?

The leadership of Truth in Love Ministries decided from its onset to operate in the context of “team biblical counseling” because we saw the urgent need for multiplying those of us who uphold God’s Word as the only way to speak the truth in the love of the Holy Spirit’s power.

This model often involves a mentor and mentee, though not always. Sometimes, the team consists of simply two co-counselors who are equally experienced. Pulling together, or working in teams of two does not mean that the work load is split in half. Rather, when both persons prepare to carry the full load and work together, they find there is surprisingly more power available to them as a team. This team of two learns to work together to be stronger just as two horses pulling together can pull  six times the amount of weight of what either horse can pull alone!

There are other benefits of working together as co-counselors: protection from false accusations when a witness is present (Num. 35:30; Prov. 14:5); temptations of the flesh are hindered (Gal. 6:1); encouragement (Luke 10:17); strength with someone to help carry the burdens (Gal. 6:2); mutual support (Luke 10:3); praying partner present in the room (Heb. 13:18); deception by counselees is easier to discern together (Eccl. 4:12); note-taking is less difficult as well as finding Bible references (Eccl. 4:9-11); and more Christ-likeness in terms of being full of grace and full of truth when you pair a grace-giver with a truth-teller (John 1:14).

To me, that last benefit is the most important benefit of team biblical counseling: Christ-likeness balanced in truth and grace. Let’s be honest: most counselors tend to err by leaning either on the truth side or the grace side of counseling, so pairing a truth-teller with a grace-giver gives the counselee a balanced presentation of counsel that more accurately reflects the love of Christ.

For the counselees, some of the benefits are that greater wisdom is provided (Prov. 15:22); counselees take their sessions more seriously (2 Cor. 13:1); more love is demonstrated (in 2 Cor. 1:3-7 Paul uses team words like “we” and “us” twelve times); protection from potential harm by a counselor who might be tempted to take financial or sexual advantage of a counselee (Deut. 19:15; Matt. 18:16); there is less of a tendency to elevate the counselor as the “expert” in a co-counseling setting; and the glory of God is therefore more emphasized than the glory of the counselor (1 Cor. 10:31).

Biblical counseling is totally dependent upon the work of the Holy Spirit in conjunction with God’s Word in the heart of the counselee to bring transformation. Having experienced both single counseling and team counseling over the years, I have witnessed how team counseling de-emphasizes the exaltation of the counselors and better points the counselee to the wisdom and power of Christ.

The Rest of the Story

Be sure to return tomorrow for Part 2 where we explore how two are better than one—especially in the disciple-making process.

Join the Conversation

How could team ministry impact the disciple-making process?

2 thoughts on “Are You Discipling Your Replacement, Part 1

  1. Pingback: Are You Discipling Your Replacement, Part 2 | Biblical Counseling Coalition Blogs

  2. Great post!  I have been experiencing all of these blessings that you discuss in co-counseling.  The ability to process with another counselor has been extremely helpful.  I have joked with counselees and said, “Our two half brains combined equal a whole.”

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