Inspired by the Africa Study Bible

Many people assume that counselling is reserved only for people who are struggling with mental illness, stress, or traumatic life circumstances. This is a toxic lie that prevents Christians from getting what they need – a trusted mentor that is older, wiser, and can help them as they travel along their journey with Jesus. Many people do not realize that counselling is a biblical concept of which the world has created its own version to fit its standards. In 2 Corinthians, Paul tells the church in Corinth about the importance of godly counsel (Africa Study Bible page 1703-1704). The Africa Study Bible says that if we take the physical, emotional, and spiritual health of our fellow believers seriously, then godly counsel should be one of the Church’s main missions.

You may be thinking, “I am not a licensed counsellor” or “I do not know enough about psychology to be of help to anyone”. Both of these thoughts are lies from the enemy. Satan may even cause you to think that you are not called to counsel. He wants you to question that abilities that God has given you. He wants you to assume that this part of the Bible doesn’t apply to you. Satan knows that your testimony and life experiences have the ability to change the lives of others, so he will do anything to stop you from sharing the knowledge that you have.

If you are a Christ-follower, you have been called to counsel. Maybe not in a formal setting like premarital, grief, mental health, etc. Serious areas like these require attention from a properly educated and licensed psychologist. However, you have been given ears that can listen to the burdens of brothers and sisters. You have been given eyes that can see those who are hurting and in need of a friend. You have been given a unique mind and perspective based on your life experiences. You have spiritual gifts that can be used to minister to and serve those around you in the way that they need most. You have the ability to let your neighbor know that they are not alone in their pain, which is exactly what the devil will try to convince them of. We as Christians have power over the devil through Christ.

For the purpose of this blog, the term “counsellor” is used in an informal sense. In this case, counsellor refers to an unlicensed Christian friend or family member that is led by God to help another. If you are interested in using your gifts to counsel a friend or family member in a biblical manner, or you would like to know how to find good Christian counsel, here are a few things to keep in mind based on what 2 Corinthians teaches:

  1. A good Christian counsellor depends fully on God to guide them when guiding others. Nothing happens within a counsellor’s power, and they know that. They will allow God to speak through them and will push their own opinions aside. Sticking to God’s Word is a must in every situation. They must give biblically based advice, not advice that can be found on social media or a news network. Depending on God and God’s Holy Word is essential to Christian counselling. Otherwise, it can turn in a different, more worldly direction. If they truly want to help, they will let God take the lead.
  2. A counsellor has a willing and selfless spirit. A counsellor must be prepared to do and be more than what is expected of them. They will go out of their way to show love and help others in an unforgettable way, often one that plays a role in the healing and/or learning process of their counsellee. They must be willing to be a prayer partner like never before. A good counsellor can see what a person needs without them saying it aloud, and then act upon that knowledge. A counsellor is a safe, understanding, and thoughtful friend. A counsellor is a respectable and trusted confidant by many.
  3. A good counsellor will tell someone what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. In a world full of confusion, opinions, and lies, a godly counsellor will speak truth unapologetically. The counsellor will do this in a loving and compassionate manner, but speaking truth nonetheless.
  4. A counsellor knows their stuff. They know the Bible, the person they are speaking to, and the situation that their counsellee is walking through. When counselling informally, having some type of experience with the type of situation being discussed helps. A good counsellor is aware of what is happening in the world socially, economically, religiously, etc. Being sensitive to a person’s history, culture, background, etc. is always best if you want them to fully receive your advice and respect you going forward.
  5. A good, godly counsellor must know how to pray. They need to pray for themselves and their spiritual health as they are bearing in one another’s heavy burdens. They must pray for the people that they are blessed to counsel. They must pray for wisdom and discernment from God when counselling. In Christian counselling, prayer is key.

If you want to learn how to properly receive godly counsel from a friend or family member that has the potential to change your life, here are a few tips to keep in mind given the previous paragraphs:

  1.  Be prepared for a bit of “homework” that may include reading, journaling, or spiritual exercises that will take practice. If you want to see a change, you must be prepared to put in the work. Trust what your counsellor recommends. Be willing to try things that seem silly. Anything they do for you is out of love.
  2. Do not expect for change to happen overnight. Patience is key during a counselling process.
  3. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Questions are healthy and build understanding. Your counsellor wants you to understand the “why” behind the “what”, so please ask any questions that may be holding you back.
  4. Be honest about your situation. Tell the full truth. If you want your counsellor to be able to serve you in the best way, you must be completely and totally honest at all times, even if it’s scary or painful.
  5. If you need further help, do not hesitate to go to a licensed psychologist or doctor. Even though a friend or family member may have good intentions, some situations require further medical help – and that is okay.
  6. Lean on God, the ultimate healer and comforter. He is your peace.

Use what you have been given. Afternoon coffee or late-night living room floor conversations make for a good counselling session. If you feel led to help a fellow believer, tell your story of how Jesus changed you. Lead them to Jesus every time. If you are in need of godly counsel, take a step of faith and ask. God speaks through humans, his vessels on earth, and he wants to speak to you right where you are. He is your peace – receive it.

This excerpt is inspired by an Article of the Africa Study Bible titled, “ ”. Africa Study Bible Articles are about the Christian life and critical concerns that face the church in Africa and its people. The articles help you understand how to apply the bible to a specific area of life where God’s wisdom is needed.

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