Demystifying Counseling

Somewhere in childhood I caught a belief system that counseling was for those people who really needed help. It seemed clinical, something necessary for the chronically ill. I wouldn’t seek out counseling myself because it seemed like it was for people with extremely messed up lives: broken people, sick people, aggressively mean people. I was a proud, small town teenager. I didn’t want people to think I had a problem, and I certainly didn’t want to identify as someone who needed help.

Yet, as I grew up, I also had questions. Perhaps you have questions, too. Why would God care about who I marry? I have friendly, non-churchgoing classmates, but many of my church friends are hurtful towards each other…is church working? What’s the purpose of church anyway? I get sad sometimes, does that mean I am depressed? Does it matter if I tell people little white lies?

Over the years, God in His grace helped answer these questions in unexpected ways. What was truly transformational for me was to see the faith of believers lived out. When people applied the truth of the Bible to their lives, I saw marriages glorifying God, lasting hope for grief and depression, and answers for anxiety and anger. I needed to be taught how to do the same. As I matured as a Christian, godly men and women counseled me in the truth of the Bible for real, everyday problems. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, I grew as a disciple and found that the Bible is filled with passages about counseling. God Himself is our counselor. His word is sufficient in all things (2 Tim 3:16-17). Biblical counseling is a normal and essential part of the Christian life.

Brothers and sisters, are you willing to meet people in their messy questions and offer hope? Jesus did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. He emptied Himself and humbled Himself to serve sinners like us in obedience to His heavenly Father. He is our example of a comforter and counselor for those who are suffering and stuck in sin. He entered into a sinful and broken world. As His disciples, we must be ready to do the same. Biblical counseling is entering into the mess and questions of others and point people to truth—Jesus Christ and God’s Word.

The reality is that we are all chronically ill, needy, and broken people. We are sick with sin and capable of the most wretched of destructive behaviors apart from God. We are prone to self-deception and Scripture exposes our hearts (Jer 17:9, Heb 4:12-13). The counsel of God is to put our faith in the Good News—that Jesus came to save us from our brokenness and to help us love God and love others. Counseling is foremost a ministry of the church to help us become more like Christ. As believers, we are called to help one another repent and believe in the Gospel to have victory over sin.

So let’s make Biblical counseling normal and less clinical. As believers, we can cling to objective truth outside of ourselves in a world that is always changing and ever more confusing. Our church is dedicated to helping people grow as disciples through the ministry of counseling.
Now it’s your turn to consider. What do you think of when you hear the word “counseling?” Has your worldview been more shaped by the Bible or the culture around you? Do you see the church as a safe and helpful place to help you in the midst of your sin and suffering? How would you help someone struggling with depression, dating, marriage, anxiety, or abuse? With the help of God, may we walk in His commandments for our good and for His glory!

Britney Sue Hagsten