A Word from Your BCC Team: You’re reading the third post in a four-part BCC Grace & Truth blog miniseries on Biblical Counseling and Higher Education. In today’s post, Professor Lilly Park of Crossroads Bible College discusses Pursuing a Biblical Counseling Degree as a Woman. You can read Part 1, by Dr. Howard Eyrich here. And you can read Part 2, by Dr. Robert Jones here.
Pursuing Our God-Given Passion
It’s not unusual for a counseling class to be filled mostly with female students. I’m often asked, “What can I do with a biblical counseling degree?” It’s a practical and important question. If you’re asking similar questions, could I encourage you to consider this question:
“What is my passion?”
This question seems to focus more on what God might want us to do in life. God has created each of us with different gifts, interests, and passions. Maybe it’s working with youth, helping people with drug addictions, teaching children, or teaching women.
Perhaps it’s simplistic, but why not pursue our passion and trust God to provide the opportunities. Here are a few stories.
I’ve met women who were passionate about teaching the Bible to women. A counseling degree not only equips them in biblical/theological knowledge, but also in counseling skills to help women with complicated problems. Courses on teaching could also be added for electives. What a practical combination!
More recently, I’ve had a discussion with a woman who has a passion to minister to widows. While completing her counseling degree, she is gaining counseling experience at church and initiating outreach events to single moms and widows. She has a full-time job in another field, but she’s pursuing her passion by completing this degree and discussing opportunities with her church leadership.
A recent graduate had no job prospect in counseling at the beginning of her degree. By the time she graduated, her church offered her a counseling position. It was an unexpected but sweet surprise from God.
The stories continue. The point of these stories is that these women pursued their passion and trusted God to provide meaningful opportunities in His perfect timing.
Admittedly, biblical counseling positions are not as available as other ministry positions. A biblical counseling degree, however, is useful for a variety of roles and positions. Often, I find students limiting their job prospects because they focus on finding a “biblical counseling” position. Instead, I encourage them to broaden the job search by focusing less on the title or position and more on the experience. (In my own life, this approach has been so helpful in expanding my ministry experience.)
Be Careful of Over-Analyzing
Repeatedly, if I allowed rationality to rule my thoughts, then I probably would not have gained the blessed and challenging experiences thus far. For instance, I left a consulting job at a large firm to pursue a degree in biblical counseling. Most people would have considered it irrational. I was in my early 20s, so it was easier in some ways, but it was still hard in many ways.
When I completed my counseling degree about ten years ago, I didn’t think I could find a job in biblical counseling. (Since then, the biblical counseling field has grown!) I figured it would be easier for my male classmates because of pastoral positions. I was wrong. God provided a full-time position in a biblical counseling ministry.
I could go on and share how God has provided one experience after another. Sometimes, the title or position was not directly related to counseling, but I was able to incorporate my counseling background or develop my counseling background in ways that I could not have known…if I was fixated on the job position alone. Be flexible. Be open to new experiences.
Loosely Hold Onto Your Future
Plan your future, but hold onto your plans loosely. One of my go-to passages when I’m facing crossroads in my life is Proverbs 16. It immediately reminds me of at least three important truths: 1) I should plan well; 2) God knows what is best for me; and 3) I can trust God with the future—no matter what happens.
Sometimes, God may provide a job related to our passion at a much later time. Meanwhile, we can still try to find jobs indirectly related to our passions. Of course, there are times when we simply need to find a job as soon as possible. Be encouraged though. God could use what seems like unrelated jobs or tasks to prepare us for other long-term purposes.
Our days on earth are short, compared to eternity with God. How do you want to use your counseling degree to make a difference in this world for God’s glory? For some of us, we’ll serve in formal counseling positions, but for most of us, I suspect, we’ll use our degree in positions without the word “counseling.” Remember, that doesn’t mean you’re not using your counseling degree.
Join the Conversation
How has God allowed you to use your counseling degree or certificate in unexpected ways?