What We’ve Forgotten

(or why I’d make a bad counselor)

The way I see it there are three types of Christian counselors:

The first counselor blames all of your problems on you. You reap what you sow kind of counseling. Basically, if you have cancer, it is because you do not have enough faith, God is punishing you for something bad you’ve done, or some other weird scenario.

The second counselor tries to convince you that your problems are a test from God. They believe wholeheartedly that what is happening to you will teach you a moral lesson and that you should be happy that God has blessed you with your present misery.

The third counselor will tell you that your problems are not because of a previous sin, or because God is teaching you. Because you are living you deserve to suffer. Ultimately we were all born wicked, and therefore all deserve to suffer for it.

These three types of counselors are very commonplace. I have heard numerous stories about this. I am unsure of where it stems from, but I have a feeling it comes from education and not from love. What I mean is, you can easily learn in a Theology class that everything that happens to us is because we are sinful people… but you cannot learn in a Theology class how to love your brothers and sisters.

I would make a bad counselor because I admit that of these three, I cannot tell someone why they are having problems. What can I say? I can tell them that God loves them, I know that. I can tell them that God desires to strengthen his relationship with them, I know that. I can tell them that God is just and faithful, I know that. But I cannot tell them what I do not know. I do not know why they are in their present situation. I do not know if the situation was a result of their behavior, or is a test, or is a result of the human condition.

I would make a bad counselor because I do not have the answers, I only have faith.

We’ve forgotten that Job’s consolers did not have the answers either.

Comments

  1. Good word Lew.
    “Why?” is such a normal question to ask. But I confess that the answers may not satisfy me. But God does satisfy, so I focus on asking “what” instead.

  2. http://~Heather says

    I do not have the answers either. And having been in the counseling field I can tell you that the vast majority of so-called Christian counselors aren’t. It is very, very difficult, in my opinion, to find a good one. Here’s what a good one does … he or she helps you to explore and find out the answer for yourself. Projection, although a psychological phenomenon that many counselors are attempting to help others deal with, is also a big problem within the field itself and among counselors. We have a very hard time not placing our own experiences, our own beliefs, our own opinions onto other people. And isn’t that just true in all of life?

    Some people want other people to tell them what to do and why things are happening. I don’t. So that’s not how I counsel either. Sometimes, though, a good counselor can gain some insight that you or I may not have for various reasons. Again, though, it’s hard to find a good counselor that will not force this insight, but will use it to help you figure it all out for yourself with the Lord’s help.

    Counseling is a tricky field and not a science at all, in my humble opinion. It’s definitely an art and there are only a few who are really good at it. You are right to say that you think that these 3 types stem from education. Depending on where one attends school (and, I’m sorry, having a Master’s degree in Counseling, I think that distance learning is not the best way to learn in this particular field) he or she would have a bias toward the psychological philosophy that particular program is centered around. Some are Freudian, some are Jungian, some are cognitive, others are behavioral … you get the picture. My degree is from a secular institution, but I am going to assume that theological schools are the same. I’m sure that some are more grace-based while others are more sin & consequence based in their theories. And unless a person is very aware of this bias and explores other theories, he or she is going to lean toward the particular theory in their school when their education is complete.

    OK, so apparently I could go on and on, but I won’t. I’m going to stop now … this topic of “Christian” counseling is very near and dear to my heart :)

  3. http://Brandon says

    My father walked away from vocational ministry because he didn’t have all of the answers to everyone’s problems. I think trying to give people the answers to (or reasons for) their problems is a problem. Listening and leading people in truth and helping them to focus on truth rather than circumstances is a big part of loving people through life’s struggles.