Biblical counselors would be the first to affirm that God’s Word is the source of our counseling and the Spirit’s agent for change. But are we communicating that in an effective way to our counselees in our actual practice? Are we really depending on the power of God through His Word to arrest, comfort, and transform hearts? Do those who minister in a more informal way in our churches understand the value of pointing to the Word, before they offer an outside resource?
I’ve noticed as I have supervised students being trained in biblical counseling that they are quick to assign as homework supplemental material, and slow to actually open the Word with their counselees in a significant way. Granted it is much harder to research the Word to unfold it, and dialogue with it in a session, than it is to have someone purchase a booklet or book and work through it.
But I think it is paramount that our counselees get the message that the Bible is central in our counseling by what happens in the session and after. We should often ask ourselves am I really capitalizing on it? Do I just refer to Scriptural truth? Do we spend most our time just talking around the issues and very little time in the Word? Are those we seek to help largely reading booklets and listening to CDs? Or am I taking and sending the counselee to the treasured pages of the Scripture for the Spirit to use and do His Work?
If a brother or sister comes to you and asks “Do you know of anything that could be of help to my sister who is struggling with self-harm? Or depression?” do you say, “Oh yea, I know of this book on “cutting” by so and so, or “You have to get this book on depression by so and so.”? Would it not give the Holy Word of a Worthy God a better place if we strive to point them to the Word first?
I don’t want to minimize the usefulness of great resources that are out there. I’ve written such resources! I understand that there are times we do not have but one opportunity to offer some significant help. And I don’t want to communicate that we should not assign Scripturally based resources for homework. They can be very helpful to the counseling process.
What I want to stress is that God’s Word must not take a second place to our or other’s commentary on it. We ought to be pointing people to God’s Word (specific passages) in session and for homework, and then assign our other books as truly supplementary, for greater understanding and application of that Word shared.
There is a difference in those two approaches. The latter is communicating where the Words of life and answers are. It can be helpful to capitalize on a passage or two of a resource first. Carefully choosing resources with lots of Scripture (used accurately) is also important. And by all means make sure the counselee is looking up the Scripture references and giving a response to the very Words of God to them.
We don’t want to encourage those we counsel to become groupies of certain biblical counseling authors. We want to help them become enamored with the God of the Bible and treasure His Word.
I am simply proposing that we would do well to keep asking ourselves, “Exactly what am I doing to facilitate that awe and dependence when I counsel?” Am I striving to immerse others in the Words of Jesus? At the very least do I communicate its importance by having my Bible out, and do I take them to it.
It is not the unburdening of one’s heart or even our “holy chat” about Scriptural concepts that will do the most to accomplish the work of God in a heart. It is the very Words of God. Jesus prayed to the Father, “Sanctify them by the Truth. Thy Word is Truth (Jn 17:17).” So let’s be sure to use it first and foremost—to keep the Bible in the front seat when we are helping people. (Ps 19:7-14; Heb 4:12; Ps 119)