Recently I have been doing a fair bit of counseling supervision. What I mean is that others counsel and I serve as a supervisor for their counseling. Not only have I noticed weaknesses in the counseling of others, but I have spotted some of my own weaknesses as well. One of those weaknesses has to do with going too fast.
I see it in other counselors, I see it in my counseling, I see it in my teaching, and I even see it in my parenting. We assume that just because we talked about a subject that means the others involved understand it and apply it.
In counseling it works like this … you teach on repentance, the counselee says repentant words and you move on. Or you talk about being a godly husband or wife and assume that godliness has simply occurred. Or someone is really dealing with some hard issues so you teach on suffering and assume that they are fully prepared to place all their suffering in a biblical context. Similar stories occur in teaching and in parenting.
I get it. I really get it. I like to have one conversation and have the issues solved never to occur again (not that I do this in my own life!). But the reality is that change does not often occur is such radical ways. The Lord changes us one moment at a time, one issue at a time, one circumstance at a time. We take two steps forward and one back.
So I encourage you to slow down. Listen. Ensure your counselee (or friend or child) understands and has been given a chance to apply what they have learned. This may mean that your counseling takes longer, but it will be more effective.
Here are three questions to ask yourself in your own counseling.
- Have I given the counselee time to change or have I tried to rush through an agenda? If you are giving them time, then you may spend multiple weeks on the exact same subject and text of Scripture.
- Am I regularly checking with my counselees regarding my pace of counseling? Have I asked whether I am going too fast? Too slow? Have I given them the opportunity for questions?
- Am I praying that the Lord would help me move at his pace? I, as the Lord’s servant, do not want to be lagging behind what the Lord wants, but nor do I want to be in front of him either.
I hope this will help you accomplish more by God’s grace. The added bonus is that this focus will help you listen more and talk less … which is a skill most us need to be progressively sanctified.
Feel free to add additional suggestions for moving at the right pace in the comments below.