In my early days of counseling, I often found it difficult to ask personal questions to those whom I was counseling. Questions like:
- Are you sexually active?
- How much are you in debt?
- Would your children say it seems like you’re always yelling at them?
- Have you gotten bitter?
So, when my counselees would make vague statements like, “We just got too close, you know what I mean?” I would nod my head, indicating I knew what they meant, even though I was totally clueless. What does “too close” mean? Does it mean you had a passionate affair, or does it mean you began flirting at lunch? Why was I so reluctant to ask for specific information?
I was clueless.
I’m sure there are many reasons for my reluctance, among them my pure stupidity. I was too dumb to even figure out the right questions, let alone know how to deal with the answers I got. I was the happy fool described in Proverbs 18:13 who gives answers without listening.
I thought I was being kind by covering up shame.
Ignorance aside, I believe there was another reason I failed to ask specific questions. I think I unconsciously assumed that it would be easier, kinder even, if I allowed the person I was counseling to speak of sin vaguely. Often the woman I was counseling seemed ashamed and embarrassed regarding what she was telling me. I believed it would be easier on her if I let her keep her shame hidden, without bringing it to the light.
There are opportunities in counseling you may not have with acquaintances and friends.
While there is obvious merit to not asking information that is overly personal with our casual acquaintances and friends (Eph. 5:12), that changes when you are given the opportunity to provide counsel. As one offering godly counsel, you have an answer to shame—and it’s not covering it up. You can offer the removal of shame and show how it can be replaced with purity, with righteousness, with glory!
Shame can be replaced with a robe of splendor.
You have a beautiful Savior to offer to those sitting across from you clothed in disgrace and wrapped in shame. You can offer a Savior who took our shame upon Himself and offers us His pure and spotless righteousness in place of our shame. Rather than choosing to cover our sins (and experience the lack of prosperity that comes with covering—Pr. 28:13), we can have our shame removed. Instead of a garment of shame and a cloak of disgrace, our counselees can wear a robe of splendor, a robe which radiates the glory of the Holy One who took away all of their disgrace.
Don’t miss the opportunity to give hope.
Don’t miss the opportunity to provide hope by settling for vague statements when you counsel. Love your counselees by showing them how every vestige of their disgrace can be and is removed by the One who bore our shame and sorrows on the tree so that we could be his radiant bride!
Join the Conversation
If you struggle asking your counselees to be specific, could it be that you think covering their disgrace is the best way to show them love?