When the Counselor Becomes the Counselee

Contributed by Joel Bertles

One-on-one ministry is extremely intimidating! I am often overwhelmed with the feeling that this encounter is too weighty and significant to handle on my own. I want to call out for help from he one of the well-seasoned pastors who are my mentors. It’s so intimidating for a number of reasons:

  1. I can’t prepare for what is going to be discussed in the meeting. Conversations are organic, and people’s lives are full of unexpected turns.
  2. I feel the pressure to have an immediate answer to whatever ails are brought into our meeting.
  3. I am not enough to fix my counselee’s problems.

Each of these points make me feel quite inadequate to be leading these kinds of meetings.

Each of my fears show me that I need the same thing as my counselee.

In the end, each of my fears show me that I need the same thing as my counselee. I need to have a deep and abiding trust in my God. I need to learn that God has a good purpose through this tough situation. I need to learn to humble myself by both giving up my desire for self-sufficiency and by relying on God to show up and help. I find myself being cut to the heart by the same truths I share with my counselees.

When I am meeting with someone who is foolish, it is so easy for me to look at their lives and act like the Pharisee in Luke 18:11 praying, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers.” However, when I take a look at my own life, I see all the ways that I have forsaken future blessings for temporary relief. Also, I expect results while refusing to work to their end, and I speak quickly without thinking. I am the fool! And I need to hear exactly the same thing my counselee needs. When I meet with someone who is anxious, it’s so easy to point out the speck in their eye while neglecting the log in my own eye (Matthew 7:3).

I feel crushed under the weight of a burden I was never meant to carry.

Many times, I have brought my own anxieties to that very meeting because I so clearly see my inadequacy to counsel. I also have trusted too much in my own strength instead of God’s. Of course I feel crushed under the weight of a burden I was never meant to carry. When I meet with someone who struggles with outbursts of anger, I find myself being frustrated with how their sin continues to inconvenience me! When I meet with someone who can’t see any hope for their situation, I doubt when they keep returning time and time again without making progress.

I am only a sinner saved by grace pointing to the Savior.

God continually reminds me that I am only a sinner saved by grace pointing to the Savior. I am so grateful for this constant reminder that I need God. I pray that He would always keep my need for His grace at the forefront of my mind lest I begin to turn my counselee’s gaze away from our Savior towards myself.

What has God been teaching you as you seek to minister His word to others? I would love to hear about it and interact with you in the comments below.

 
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