If you are reading this, you are either a Biblical counselor, or interested in Biblical Counseling.
Biblical Counseling is tapping into the power of the Gospel, through the work of the spirit as he shows us the Gospel in His word…maybe.
While we say we are “Biblical” counselors, we sometimes function as if we are just counselors that occasionally use scripture. Let’s take a look at a presenting problem and two approaches to counseling the person with the presenting problem.
Counseling Approach #1:
- Point out that in Philippians 4:6 we are told to “not to be anxious.”
- Ask the person why they are anxious
- Give them some strategies of what to do when they are anxious
- Have them journal times when they are anxious
- During the next appointment talk through the times they were anxious and try and figure out why and how they can be less anxious next time.
Now, is the above approach helpful? Sure. Is the above approach wrong? No. Will the above approach help the person? Probably? Is it Biblical Counseling? No.
Why is it not Biblical Counseling?
- It uses the Bible as a reference not as a curriculum
- It does not give the full context of the verse referenced
- The Bible was not in the homework
- There was no Gospel in it
Counseling Approach #2
- Read with the counselee, Philippians 4:5-8
- Ask them why it is helpful to remember the Lord is at hand, and particularly when you are anxious. Point out that it says “do not be anxious” after it says “the Lord is at hand”
- Ask them what the verse says to not be anxious about. (“anything”) Then ask what kinds of things make them anxious. Point out to them that they can get anxious about anything!
- Then ask what It says to do, in verse 6 when you are anxious: “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Show them that Paul and the Lord know we will be prone to be anxious about anything and everything, so we are told to “pray about everything!”
- Ask them what the next verse, verse 7 says the result will be of praying about everything. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
- Ask them if that sounds better than anxiety and why?
- Ask them how Christ Jesus guards our hearts and minds
- Talk about anxiety verses peace
- Read verse 8. Talk about how this is the outcome of Jesus guarding your heart and mind and this can help you have Jesus guard your heart and mind. Now you are in a new, Gospel centered, Spirit empowered cycle of peace, prayer, and thought.
- Read Philippians 4:5-8 daily
- Do what it says right after you read it
- As you feel tempted to be anxious, try to pray about what you are thinking about and keep track of how many times you do
Approach #1 and Approach #2 both use scripture. However, one is true biblical counseling, and one is talk therapy using part of a Bible verse, removed from context and actually is closer to the law that brings death, than the Spirit that brings life. Pragmatically speaking, approach #1 also does not work over the long haul and makes the counselee dependent on you and not the Spirit, Gospel and Word.
I have fallen into this trap time and time again. Pride, busyness, laziness, or deception by the enemy has led me to think I can counsel people. When we remember we are Biblical Counselors and that the Gospel is the only hope for sinners like us and our counselees, we will counsel from Gods word that is “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16
By Jason Blackley