Compassion: A Key Component for Quality Counseling

One of the things that really drew me to Biblical Counseling was the idea of compassion in counseling. I love the strong tie to the sufficiency of Scripture and the belief that the Bible contains everything we need for living a righteous life. I love the reliance on the Holy Spirt and the power that comes from the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life. I love the practical application of the text of God’s Word written years ago to help us in our greatest time of modern needs.

However, the idea of being able to compassionately come alongside those who are hurting and show them the ultimate hope we have in Christ is what drew me in. I have spent plenty of time on both sides of the counseling desk. I have watched a skilled counselor compassionately help people through the struggles of living in a sin-cursed world as I was observing counseling. I have personally experienced the compassionate application of the Word of God to help correct some ways that I have struggled as a counselee. And I have seen cases that have come through my office where compassion was adequately used and unfortunately where it was not applied well.

How do we develop a compassionate approach to counseling?

See each counselee as someone Christ came to save!

Many times, throughout Jesus’ life we see phrases that refer to His compassion for those around Him. For instance, in Matthew 9:36, “Seeing the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.”

It can be very tempting to see each counselee as a time slot or an appointment time that fills your schedule. It can be tempting to see each counselee as a case for you to crack. It can be tempting to see each counselee as someone who desperately needs you to shine your amazing knowledge into their life. Instead, take the time to see that soul that desperately needs the gift that Christ came to give.

Remember the amazing grace of God that changed your life!

We often use the phrase, “the best counselors are first the best counselees.”  What a true statement that is! In Biblical Counseling we use the living and active Word of God to address the issues of the heart. It is not uncommon for the same issues you are addressing in the lives of your counselees to be the same truths that you need to be learning from in your own life.

When I remind myself often of the incredible nature of God’s mercy and grace because of His love toward me, I cannot help but humbly and compassionately care for those who need counsel. The greatest source of humility is the constant reminder of the dependence I must have on God’s amazing grace.

Instead of shaking our head in disbelief over the ways that counselees have messed up in life, let’s remember the ways that Christ has worked in our life. As we remember all the ways He has worked and is working in our own lives, let us compassionately counsel them toward that same grace.

Pray for your counselee!

I have found it hard to become calloused toward those whom I am praying for on a regular basis. As I go to the Lord in prayer over the needs of my counselees, I show compassion toward them. I am demonstrating the reliance we must have on the Holy Spirit to change any heart.

I have found it incredibly helpful to develop compassion for the counselee as I have prayed for them throughout the week. When you can tell your counselee that you have been faithfully praying for them throughout the week, you demonstrate that compassion in a very tangible way to them.

May your counsel be full of compassion. Recognize each counselee as a soul that needs a Savior. Remind yourself often of the amazing grace that God has shown you. Pray for each of your counselees on a regular basis.


Photo by Dave Lowe on Unsplash

Johnny KjaerJohnny Kjaer
Johnny Kjaer oversees the Youth Ministries at Faith Church. He can often be found serving the community with the teenagers. His passion is to assist parents in training their teens to love the Lord. He and his wife, Tori, have four children; Leif, Tryggve, Kjirsti, and Hroarr.