I received a request recently from a young man serving the Lord faithfully in a great ministry. He asked if I could help him and his finance prepare for marriage–he asked for pre-marital counseling. I did not say no…instead, I challenged him with the following exhortations:
1. I (indeed, no Biblical Counselor is) am not a professional. I am a pastor…which means I am a shepherd…which means I disciple the flock God has entrusted to my care. One of our board members (Toby…and a local shepherding pastor) recently wisely said, “We do not want to exchange one professional paradigm (with bad secular, psychological content) for another professional paradigm (with better, biblical content). Biblical counseling IS NOT for professionals…it is a duty of delight for every Christian…especially pastors. Biblical Counseling is DISCIPLESHIP.
2. His pastor will give an account to God Almighty for the sheep under his charge. Hebrews 13:17 is (the 3rd) most frightening verse for pastors in all the Bible: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Your pastor will give an account. Go to your pastor. Allow him/them the privilege and honor of helping you. He (they) need to know where you are afflicted…just like Jesus, The Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
3. What model of male headship is he setting for his bride? Just like a pastor is responsible for the flock under his care, so too is a husband responsible for the family under his leadership. If he abandons his pastor he is setting the example that when his bride meets suffering he will refer her out from under his care. It is the responsibility of the head to guard and guide, feed and protect, love and lay down his life if necessary for those under his care.
4. The church is best. We need grace-laced, intrusive community. Those who know you best, those who can help hold you to your profession, and those who can best come alongside in encouragement and exhortation are in the church. The best mentor is one familiar with you. Beloved, counseling discipleship belongs in the church. No para-church can sanctify like the church. Indeed, this man rightly belongs to a ministry that places themselves under a local church. He serves a ministry that explicitly seeks not to be a free-lance para-church ministry. How ironic that he would seek discipleship from a para-church??
5. Beloved, what does it say about the Bible when we defer our people away from the church? If Jesus were here…NO ONE would refer anyone in trouble to any “professional” counselor. You would take your soul and every soul loved to Jesus. Jesus IS HERE. He is here in His Word. He is here in the Bible. The Bible has “all things pertaining to life and godliness” because the Bible reveals knowledge of Jesus.
6. Rod and Staff is, at best, SECOND BEST. Your pastor, your church are best. If your church and/or pastor are not equipped to shepherd your soul…no matter the problem, from the Bible…call us.
We exist to equip.
10,000 Blessings in The Wonderful Counselor,