Christian Counseling: Can anybody be a lay counselor?

Training Category: People Helping Ministry

In some regards, yes, any believer fulfilling the one another commands of Scripture not only can, but will be a counselor. Undoubtedly a significant portion of professional counseling could be eliminated if the church was committed to living out the ‘one another’ commands of Scripture.

. . . admonish one another . . . bear one another’s burdens . . . build up one another . . . care for one another . . . comfort one another . . . confess faults to one another . . . encourage one another . . . spur one another on

Surely, in this kind of dynamic atmosphere, healing and change would occur. People would find the church to be a safe place, among those who accept one another.

The intent of this post, however, is not to provide a dissertation on the pros and cons of professional counseling. Nor is the objective to provide in-depth coverage of clinical counseling or abnormal psychology. The intent is to help church leaders and workers to more effectively counsel in the normal course of ministry — pastoral, lay, or peer counselors.

Spiritual Gifts in a Lay Counselor

While we can can be involved in counseling others as we live out the one another commands of Scripture, there are those who are gifted to come alongside of people in a more concerted or intentional way. People with the gift of exhortation may find themselves in this role more than those without that gift.

Qualities in a Good Lay Counselor

warmth
genuineness
ability to empathize
ability to listen
confidentiality

People Helping Ministry Manual
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The People Helping Ministry Manual includes a section on counseling with this content as well as some input on each of the above qualities. Other topics in that section:

People Helping Ministries: Who Should Be Involved

Training Category: People Helping Ministry

All believers are called to come alongside of other people to help in time of need. Check out: Reasons to Help

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Gal. 6:10)

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Heb. 13:16)

Yet, there will be those who, by virtue of their spiritual gifting, should focus their time, energy, and resources into helping ministries above and beyond that of other believers.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working but the same God works all of them in all men. (1 Cor. 12:4-6)

Spiritual Gifts Those Involved in People Helping Ministries Might Have:

Click on links below to learn more about the various ways to help people using the different spiritual gifts.

Exhortation:

Mercy:

Service:

Giving:

Hospitality:

As people with these spiritual gifts come along side of others to help in practical ways, showing the compassion and love of Christ to those in need, they must realize that sometimes in addition to “deeds” of kindness, what people need is for someone to simply “be” there with them. People helpers would therefore do well to sharpen their listening skills regardless of what role they take in helping others.

Some people may not have the primary people helping spiritual gifts but may nonetheless have a passion toward these areas or toward people in need. They could fulfill leadership or administrative roles within these ministries. They could be teaching and training others to do the work. They could be praying for the ministry. These believers may not be in regular contact with the people in need but still hold integral roles in this kind of ministry.

People Helping Ministry Manual

The People Helping Ministry Manual includes the above content plus a simple spiritual gifts test that assesses only the gifts primarily used in a people helping ministry … the five spiritual gifts mentioned above. You’ll also find definitions for each of these gifts with possible uses in this kind of ministry.

Wait for the Lord

Wait for the Lord

Whether it’s a new year or any other event in our lives, we would do well to learn from the Israelites who “did not wait for His plan to unfold” (Ps. 106:13). Though God extended His kindness toward the Israelites in Egypt, they still rebelled. “Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known.” (Ps. 106:8) He rescued them from their adversary by parting the sea. “Then they believed his promises and sang his praise.” (Ps. 106:12)

You would think such a miraculous delivery would seal their trust in God’s intent to do good for them and His ability to bring it about. “But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold.” (Ps. 106:13) They repeatedly put God to the test. Read the remainder of Psalm 106 to see how that led to much needless trouble.

Why We Don’t Wait for the Lord

Who likes the wilderness experience? Who doesn’t want the good without experiencing pain or hardship? Yet, like the Israelites of old, God sometimes takes us on an indirect route to get to His place of blessing. If, like the Israelites, we focus on our circumstances rather than on our God, we too will experience needless trouble along the way.

Psalm 106:13 cues us in on why they didn’t wait on the Lord — “they soon forgot what he had done …” As a result, their impatience with the process led them to take matters into their own hands and to turn to sources other than God for help and hope.

Why We Should Wait for the Lord

The Israelites had every reason to wait for the Lord. He had already proven Himself faithful. He had already demonstrated His power. God already had shown Himself greater than their circumstances.

For us today, let’s think about what God has already done for us in sending Jesus.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (Rom. 5:8-10)

God has already demonstrated how much He loves us. God has already proven His desire and ability to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Certainly we should believe “that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). The more we understand the character of our faithful, powerful, and loving God, the more we will realize that we have every reason to “wait for His plan to unfold” in our lives.

How To Study Bible Characters

All Scripture is Useful
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God intends for us to benefit from studying all of Scripture which includes the lives of those who have gone before us. Their examples show God at work in the lives of His people as well as what happens when we don’t trust and obey Him.

Tips for Studying Bible Characters

When studying the lives of people in the Bible . . .

do pray.

  • As with any kind of Bible study, you need the Holy Spirit’s help to understand. (1 Cor. 2:9-16)

develop profiles.

  • Look at the whole of their lives and ask how they responded in different situations.
  • Identify character traits. List both strengths and weaknesses.
  • Determine the effects of their backgrounds and environmental influences.

discern the principles.

  • Some of the particulars of their lives may be specific to their situation so you may not be able to literally apply everything to your life.
  • By determining the general principles that come out of this study, you should always find something to apply to your life.

discover the primary Person.

  • The Bible is about God, not Jonah, David, Paul, and all the other Bible characters.
  • The bottom line in doing a character study, then, should be to learn more about the Primary Person, or Primary Character, in the Bible. What can you learn about God as a result of this study?

Also Read: Which Bible Characters to Study

Why Study Bible Characters

Throughout the pages of Scripture we read the stories of many who have gone before us. Studying what God did in and through their lives can be quite beneficial.

Studying the lives of Bible Characters . . .

Walk the Walk Bible Character Study Devotional
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helps us know how to walk the walk (1 Cor. 10:1-13; Heb. 11).

  • We find much instruction for our own lives as we study these real people, so we are not ignorant about the kinds of heart attitudes and actions with which God is pleased.
  • We see implications of truth applied to life as we look at their examples in both the positive and negative aspects of their lives.
  • We find warnings so we do not fall into the same temptations as they did but rather learn how to escape.

gives us hope (Rom. 15:4; Heb. 11:39-40; James 5:17).

  • We encounter real people, just like us, who experienced God working on their behalf. How encouraging it is to realize that God can do extraordinary things in and through ordinary people.
  • We learn that they did not always see immediate results but were able to trust God to be faithful as they relied on His promises. Since we serve the same God, we can count on Him to help us too.

In the Walk the Walk As Those Who Have Gone Before Devotional Guide you will work through thirty devotional guides where you will learn from real people living out their faith. The people chosen for this study are those of whom Scripture specifically states that they walked with or before God.

For more suggestions on who to study, go to: Which Bible Characters to Study

The next post will give some suggestions for how to study Bible characters.

Obstacles in Becoming More Purposeful: Resistance in the Spiritual Realm

Training Category: Church Purpose

As you pursue the purposes of God you place yourself in opposition to the work of the enemy. He will scheme to divert your focus. He will set traps and tempt you to fall into them. Satan will be a forceful resistance but he does not have to win.

How to Overcome Obstacles, or Resistance, in the Spiritual Realm

1) Become Aware of Satan’s schemes.

. . . in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes. (2 Cor. 2:11)

2) Become Alert to Satan’s traps.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Pet. 5:8)

3) Become Attentive to God.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. (James 4:7-8a)

For Resources on Spiritual Warfare: Spiritual Growth Resources (look for ‘Warfare’ tab)

Not all resistance in pursuing our purpose comes from the spiritual realm. Some comes from other people struggling to accept changes that may come as a result of being more purposeful.  Read:  Obstacles in Becoming More Purposeful: Fleshly Resistance & Conflicts

Church Purpose Ministry Manual

In addition to the content under the Church Purpose Training section of this site, the Church Purpose Ministry Manual also suggests what some of the schemes and traps of the enemy might be as well as four ways we can be attentive to God.