Before You Call a Biblical Counselor
The apostle Paul instructed his Corinthian audeince to examine themselves, to see if they were "in the faith" (2 Cor. 13:5). In some like manner, I'd like to encourage those who are considering making the phone call for counseling to "examine themselves," to see if they're truly ready to commit to the work of soul care.
I suggest this because of the prevalence of counselee complaints I see in social media, and hear about "through the grapevine." Unfortunately, it's not all that uncommon to read someone's account of failed counseling efforts. One common thread, however, is that I've never read someone's story that had them failing the process as a counselee. Somehow, it's always the counselor's failure that led to their demise.
Let me be clear: Counselors are people, too, and therefore, sinnners in need of a Savior, and grace from their neighbor. Counselors are falible, and thus, capable of error. But, hopefully, not error of any intentional, malicious variety. They must always be about the business of reading and life-long learning in their field in order to maintain their skills. One thing every biblical counselor keeps in the back of their mind is that in some way, shape, or form, the counsel they dispense is as much for themsleves as it is the person sitting across from them.
No one is a biblical counselor because they've "arrived."
Stiff-Necked and Idle
Having said that, can I just say that I've met more than one counselee who either had not, or perhaps even refused to "count the cost" of following Christ in the course of biblical soul care (Luke 14:25-34)? Can I say, with all due humility, that some counselees do indeed arrive as "stiff-necked," "idle" persons who have no real interest in pursuing gospel-driven, Christ-centered change (Acts 7:51; 2 Thess. 5:14)?
The counselee of whom I speak is that person who is not dissatisfied with their continued dabbling with sin, but simply the inconvenient consequnces thereof. They are the person who is not actually open to rebuke at any level, but who in fact came looking for validation of their poor choices. They are the person who refuses to see their role in the tortured state of their marriage, but who knows, a priori, that their spouse is the one who must change (contra Luther's "all of life is to be lived in repentance"). They are the person who, once biblical wisdom was clearly set before them, decided that Freud's advice would be better suited to their need.
I hope my point is becoming apparent in these varied examples.
I want to encourage everyone, every where who thinks they might be in need of biblical soul care to pursue that effort. By all means, your biblical counselor, I'm convinced, desires to come along side you in whatever condition you're in, or whatever situation you face, as a committed burden-bearer (Gal. 6:2). Therefore, get ready to make that call!
But, before you do, ask yourself some hard questions.
Are you truly ready to progressively enter into an increasingly transparent relationship in which the intimate details of your life and experiences will be brought into the light with someone who was previously a stranger to you? Are you ready and willing to own whatever culpability is rightfully yours before the eyes of God, before whose face we live (coram Deo)? Will you commit to making your appointments when it's inconvenient, and to completing your assigned homework?
The above questions are not even remotely exhaustive, but I can attest by way of experience that those counselees who answer them positively (in word and deed) are the most likely to see positive outcomes in counseling. They are also the ones I am most thankful for, as I get a front row seat to all that the Spirit is doing in their life.
So, before you call the counselor, ask yourself: Which kind of counselee will I be?