Earlier today I was reading an article on the Gospel Coalition’s website entitled. “Help Even the Unrighteous Poor” by Joel Brooks. Pastor Joel explained how his efforts to help the poor were met with cruel treatment and even disdain. Somehow, the person had come to the conclusion that Joel’s kindness was not kindness at all, but instead was a sorry excuse for what that person deserved. Pastor Joel’s story reminded me of some of the experiences that have occurred in our counseling ministry, or in the counseling ministries of some of my friends, over the years.
We, at Faith, we do not charge people to come to counseling. Instead, we ask our staff and our team of lay leaders to volunteer their Monday evenings to aide those in need. Sometimes the counseling experience is wonderful. You meet a person or family unit for the first time and immediately God begins to knit you together. God is at work and you cannot imagine a more productive way to spend your time. However, anyone who has done counseling knows that sometimes the situation is very different. Just like the poor woman in Joel’s post the counselee makes accusations, demands, and almost treats you as if you are unworthy to be in the room with him. We have had counselors verbally cussed, we have had counselees simply walk out, slam the door, and never return, and we have had a few counselees who make moves that appear threatening. In these moments it is easy to think:
– Why am I doing this?
– Why am I not home with my family spending an enjoyable evening with them?
– Why am I doing this for free?
– Why am I investing in a person who metaphorically stabs me in the back?
– I have enough issues in my life without adding more.
It is in moments like this God’s word and the work of the Lord Jesus provide grace and strength to keep going. If we were honest we would have to admit that God has graciously responded to the treatment we have given him both before and after we were saved. If we look at the life of Christ we recognize that Christ’s patience, his kindness, and his willingness to serve is far beyond any suffering in the counseling room that we have endured. In other words, in moments that are hard, we remember the hard moments of our Savior.
In addition, we cling to the responsibility that God has given to us in Galatians 6 – “if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.” Counseling is surely not the only way that this passage can be applied and yet it serves as one of them.
So if you are in the counseling trenches and you have experienced the hardships associated with harsh treatment by the very person you are trying to help … follow the example of Jesus and seek to be in a place to restore the next one who is broken.