The call to counsel does indeed sound a bit intimidating. It sounds intimidating to me, and I do it all the time!
Here's one way we can approach it: I think the word counsel is a complicated one. It’s a word I don’t tend to use because it has such professional connotations. It seems like it’s identifying a particular craft that we’re not familiar with. So let’s relabel counseling as wise conversations. At its very best, that’s what professional counseling is—it’s wise, helpful conversations. All of a sudden, counseling becomes a little less intimidating. “Oh, OK. It’s within my reach to grow in wise conversations.”
If we’re still overwhelmed, it’s important to ask ourselves why. There are two different versions of being overwhelmed. One is, “I’m overwhelmed, I can’t do it, and I’m going to run from it.” The other is, “I’m overwhelmed but God has called me to care for other people.” Feeling overwhelmed is exactly where I want to start, because then I will pray more. I will pray more for the other person and I will pray more with the other person. And if I don’t understand what that person is struggling with, I will get help from others. So being overwhelmed is not quite as bad as we think it is.
Ultimately, what are we doing? This thing we call counseling, or the care of souls, or wise conversations—it’s all aimed at helping us know someone well enough that we are able to pray for them. That’s really what we’re looking for. That’s our passion. It’s what we love to do. Our goal should simply be to grow in such things.
- Pastor: Equip Your People to Counsel Each Other (Edward T. Welch)
- 12 Truths for Depressed and Anxious Christians (Richard Baxter, Michael S. Lundy)
- 5 Myths about Counseling and the Church (Edward T. Welch)