An ACBC Counselor Encourages You to Be Trained in Biblical Counseling
By Toby Johnson
Pastor and Biblical Counselor
I sat in the back of a large auditorium with a spiral notebook in my lap and tears in my eyes. Our session had just ended, and we were scheduled to take a break. However, I didn’t move. I just sat, reflecting on all I had heard.
I was almost through with a 40-hour week of intensive biblical counseling training…emphasis on the “intense” part of “intensive”. I was feeling overwhelmed, which wasn’t unusual; I stayed pretty overwhelmed all week. I was overwhelmed at the amount of information I was taking in and overwhelmed as I considered my responsibility in biblical counseling.
However, in that moment, I was overwhelmed because I was contemplating the study of Scripture we had just completed. I was overwhelmed with a sense of my own guilt. I was overwhelmed with conviction. In studying the Bible to try and become better equipped to counsel others, the Lord had peeled back the curtain of my own heart, exposing sin against my wife I had not seen. I closed my teary eyes and sought His forgiveness. Then, I called my wife, confessed my sin, and she graciously forgave me.
That moment was several years ago, but I remember it clearly. I don’t think I’m overstating the case to say that my week of biblical counseling training was life-changing. Not because the speakers blew me away. Not even because of that moment of godly sorrow, though I’m thankful for it. It was life-changing because, through biblical counseling training, my paradigm for Christian ministry was changed.
You see, as a pastor, I’m accustomed to doing Word ministry. I study. I preach. I teach. However, biblical counseling training opened my eyes to the fact that this is only part of Word ministry. Paul didn’t just teach in public. He taught from house to house. Paul was personally involved in people’s lives. This is the piece of Word ministry that was missing from my service to the church.
Beyond biblical counseling’s role in my own ministry, it was made clear that every Christian is a counselor. I’d always believed that every Christian was a minister and should serve, but my week of training emphasized that each of us has a responsibility to speak into the lives of others. We may not all be preachers or small group leaders, but each of us are called to speak. Paul commands every Christian in Thessalonica to “admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thess. 5:14).
Based on my own experience in training, along with the biblical mandate to speak counsel to one another, I would urge you to commit any Christian to training in biblical counseling. In my own congregation, our goal is that every member would be trained in biblical counseling to some degree.
We may not all sit across the desk from a couple in crisis, but we’ll all be asked to give input on our friend’s problem. In that moment, we become counselors. The question is…what kind of counselors will we be? For the glory of God, we should be equipped to give counsel that honors God by echoing the teaching of the Bible.
If you would commit to biblical counseling training, there are a few things you should know. I hope these five things will keep you from being surprised in your own training:
It’s a commitment.
Rod and Staff’s training is a commitment of one night a week for 12 weeks. That’s 12 weeks when you’re unavailable for other activities, and if you have children, it’s 12 weeks when you have to find childcare (not always an easy feat). It’s also a commitment to be a student, and many of us haven’t been in a serious classroom setting for a while. These classes will make you think seriously about God’s Word and its implications for life, especially sin and suffering.
As you sit in biblical counseling classes, you will find that what you’re learning is not, first and foremost, about the people you would seek to help. It is about you and your heart, encountering biblical truth and being changed by it. Any good biblical counselor must first be a good counselee. So, as you sit in biblical counseling classes, don’t be surprised when God’s Word searches your heart and exposes places where you need to grow and change (Heb. 4:12-13). That was my experience, and I’m so thankful for it.
Whether you take Rod and Staff’s training courses or attend a week-long conference like I did, it will cost money. Most of us are used to attending Bible studies at our church, and the most we’d pay is $10 for the book we’re all using. So, I get it; this feels unusual. However, Rod and Staff’s classes are essentially seminary-level courses, and hundreds of hours have been put into developing the material.
It’s only the beginning.
Taking training classes is only the beginning of learning and growing as a Christian that effectively counsels other Christians. I’ve been through over 150 hours of formal training myself. I know I found all the information stimulating, both intellectually and spiritually. I know I took notes. However, I can’t remember all the material. Most of it has leaked out of my mind, which is more like a sieve than a steel trap with each passing year.
I say that to say this: don’t be concerned about whether you’ll remember it all…you won’t. The goal isn’t to know everything. The goal isn’t even to have a notebook full of helpful information, though you will. The goal is to have a new ministry paradigm that will drive you back to the Bible and biblical resources, like I did. I’m still reading, still learning, still attending training, and by God’s grace, I trust I’m still growing.
In the end, though it’s a commitment, though it’s confrontational, though it’s costly, and though it’s only the beginning, I’d have to say…
It’s worth it.
The way I live, the way I think about life, the way I approach suffering, the way I love my wife, the way I parent, the way I shepherd God’s people…it’s all been changed. By God’s grace, biblical counseling training played a large role in these changes. If you will give yourself to learning and growing as a Christian and as a counselor, I believe God will change you as well.
For more information about biblical counseling training at Rod and Staff Ministries our website is a great place to start. Courses are available throughout the year. We can also be reached by giving us a call at 1-317-859-6941, sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or stopping by for a visit at 5800 West Smith Valley Rd. It would be our pleasure to speak with you.