The counselee tries to crouch behind the Rock of Ages, seeking refuge from the storm but they don’t see the cleft and the club and the companion that the Rock of Ages has provided for them…
Capture the picture in your mind—that one: the counselee who doesn’t come back. She slithers away into the world’s woeful wasteland. I sigh as I see her leave. Does it make you sorrowful, indifferent, angry? Should we simply dismiss it with an ‘O well, the Lord is sovereign’? Sometimes, yes. After all, we cannot lock the door and make them stay. So, perhaps sometimes “goodbye” is the right salutation, but occasionally, the loss of a counselee should make our heart ache. If we truly weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn, the fleeing counselee presents the opportunity and the occasion. A counselee could leave for a variety of reasons, but these are the three that float to the top for me:
- The counselee doesn’t understand the counselor’s solutions.
- The counselee disagrees with the counselor’s solutions.
- The counselee thinks the counselor’s solutions are unnecessary.
These perceptions potentially point to these roots:
- The counselor has outdated counseling approaches.
- The counselee is directly defying the Bible.
- The counselee doesn’t think that the Bible is sufficient.
All of these land in our circle of concern but not all fall equally in our circle of responsibility. This should lead us to review and to assess our counseling. Is there something we could have done as counselors to change the outcome? Are there times we could make our biblical principles more attractive and thus harder for the counselee to walk away from? When abrupt departure occurs, we should not stew, but we should muse. There is much to learn. Today I’d like to think about just one of these reasons for the counselee leaving by sharing with you a letter that I might write to them after they have chosen to leave. In this letter, I will address the first reason a counselee may leave: they ‘don’t understand the counselor’s solutions’, potentially due to ‘outdated counseling approaches’. I hope to address the other reasons in subsequent letters. If the counselee cannot clearly grasp the offered biblical solution, then a methodological tune-up may be in order.
I know that my delivery was unsuccessful, and you don’t know what I was trying to say. What was I saying? I had so many counseling cases on my mind. My thoughts were jumbled so my words followed in faithful support. But, it’s not a cliché, you know; God actually has answers for your very struggle.
When I first became a counselor, I was at the top of my class in skill. I read the books, studied the tools and understood the current counseling framework. Now a point of clarity here: Just as it was at the beginning, God’s word is true and sound, today and in any framework. Amen! However, I have not kept pace with the times, updated my library or discerned the latest philosophical environs. At first, I was so committed to being like the sons of Issachar, making sure I understood the times so I could always instruct my counselees on what they should do. I don’t know what happened. No, I do…I think I do know what happened. The meticulous rookie counselor became the comfortable veteran counselor. Case after case was successful and conquered in God’s grace through the work of my hands. Therefore, when your PDI was presented and looked perfectly familiar, I was committed to the case but mangled in my method. Former counseling accomplishment falsely assured me that I knew how to proceed. For certain, there are routine, standard procedures but coupled with those are unique persons, made in the image of God. It is certain that God the creator reveals truth for those fashioned imago Dei, but the counselor must master and delight in exposing truth, ‘seasoned’ for each counselee.
In striving to expose God’s truth I must remember that each generation deals with the same sin but navigates in a different culture. This twenty-first century age is not bible-friendly. Though I missed it at the time, your actions clearly demonstrated that you are in an environment where it is hard to think like a Christian. When I was younger, thinking like a Christian didn’t seem difficult. There were so many stop-gaps and reminders and pillars built into church, work and community; I found it hard to stray far from biblical influences! That is not so for you, counselee, and this fact makes even more crucial my determination to handle God’s transcending truth with care and keenness. I must rightly divide the Word, speak what’s needed in the moment, season my words with salty grace and somehow infuse sweet persuasiveness in this current age. This is not easy, but this will be a renewed commitment of my mind. Since your graduation for His glory is my goal, I set my sights on the proficient science and art of biblical counseling. I commit to updating my toolbox continuously, such that God’s truth overflows.
Speaking of flow, I know that you were so disappointed in my speed as well. I would be too! My process was slow—too slow for you. I know that you are still seeking answers, and the truth is you can find them quicker on social platforms. Though attractive, these answers usually fall into the category of hopeless, superficial or temporary. Honestly, I cannot compete with the pithy, instant answers of the world. The slow searching soak of the Word cannot compete with the curated, convenient click of the mouse. Everybody has easy answers today! How can I get you to see that the tedious task of inserting the intravenous device of God’s word is the only complete, healing solution available in the world?
Truth is, though, anyone who would provide you with true rest, be gentle with you, and be humble in their delivery would be… well…slow. True deliverance begins immediately but is experienced and felt gradually. I’m interested in the biblical medicine staying down and reaching the innermost part of your being. That’s why biblical counseling is more like pouring molasses than taking a quick shower.
Since I didn’t give you clear and quick prescription, I’m sure you’ve decided that the answers lay somewhere else. If you return, I will show you how the world is still wrong and that the answers, no matter the question, are always found in Christ. You cannot walk in the counsel of the ungodly and expect to find light. My lack of an answer is not the God-given omen to explore secular solutions. Those who belong to Christ must commit to continually seeking the faithful creator who speaks and unveils truth daily through His world and His word.
Return, O dear Counselee, and I can help you see that God truly has answers and He will give you a peek past my poor performance. Though I will absolutely rewind and refine my delivery, please note that we’re counting on His faithfulness rather than my failure. Don’t be deceived. The Bible has answers that you didn’t see in our first few sessions. You didn’t find the golden nugget quickly, but the treasure is there.
If my tattered technique was combined with anything else, it would not work, BUT my inadequacy enhanced with biblical sufficiency will pull you through every storm of life. That, I guarantee.
In the end, we still have to proclaim that the Lord is sovereign. There may be absolutely nothing we can do to stop the counselee from running. However, we must resolve to review and renew for the glory of God that we may supply every counselor with the rescue available in the Rock of Ages.