What You'll Discover in this Episode:

Best Practices in Discipleship

Let's discover some best practices in biblical counseling or ministering God's counsel in this episode of the Biblical Counseling Podcast. 

The first thing before providing biblical counseling a biblical counselor needs to have is a proper personal walk with God. Are you walking in the Lord? Are you in prayer? Are you involved in a local church? As biblical counselors, why do we need to have these qualities? Because we need to come alongside those, encourage those we counsel to do just that. 

Steps in Counseling Situation (A suggested order of the session):

  1. Personal Data Inventory
  2. Start with a prayer
  3. Listen - Get to know the person by asking good questions. Be genuinely interested in their life and their story.
  4. Do you discern that the person is not saved? Prayerfully seek the Lord’s wisdom throughout, ask HIM for insight into their salvation (if you don’t know them well enough and have a history of worshipful interaction)
  5. Are they saved, but not walking on the path of discipleship?
  6. Fitting Use of the Word, and you want the time sharing the Bible to take precedence. If the counselor understands the situation and already knows necessary details, there is a point where it is better to talk less about the issue and more time spent inviting God’s counsel into the person’s life and situation.
  7. Homework. They have to learn how to go straight to God and seek Him themselves. Homework tells you how serious they are about counseling.
  8. End in Prayer



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  • Enjoyed this podcast, thanks, Pastor Jeff. As alluded to in the program, counseling should not be reduced to plugging in a particular formula and then expecting a predicted outcome. That being said, the “steps for counseling situations or sessions” serve as an excellent tour guide for those of us who the Lord has called into this branch of the ministry. One point that stood out to me especially was the question of whether the counselee is truly saved or not. If the Holy Spirit prompts us to question a counselee’s salvation, then we must address this most critical matter first. There are those occasions when God places us in the path of a person by His divine appointment and we are to share the Gospel right then and there. As biblical counselors, we must keep in mind that if there’s any doubt concerning a counselee’s salvation, we like a paramedic must first administer “life-saving” intervention before going any further. Remember, the counselee’s eternity hangs in the balance.

    • Hi Sumit
      Loved your comment ” we re like a paramedic that must first administer “life saving intervention”. This has such truth. Sometimes during a counseling it is often assumed that the counselle is saved because of the fact they are seeking biblical counseling. This is where the discernment of the Holy Spirit is crucial and needed. We must always first ask the life giving questions about their personal relationship with God so that they can have true restoration, redemption, and healing for their lives. Thank you for the insight. Blessings!

    • Right on Sumit. I have been involved in a counseling situation using a canned approach. So great was my confidence in the canned program that I was shocked when just got nothing out of it. Some time in prayer seeking the Holy Spirit’s solution would have been a much better idea.

    • Thanks, Sumit for your thoughtful comments. Truly, as Pastors and counselors, we have such a delicate assignment that requires every sense of diligence in carrying it out. As Pastor Jeff would always say, we are in the Soul-Care ministry, and every soul God sends across our way needs to be handled with the mind of Christ.

  • This podcast is must for those who are called into Biblical Counseling. I would have loved to have these guidelines, because of the fact I made every mistake Pastor Jeff spoke on what not to do during my early years of counseling. These guidelines are perfect to help keep the counselor on track and not allow rabbit trailing to happen. Im especially in agreement with the homework. My insight has been when someone is really serious about receiving from the Lord they will do the homework that is assigned. And if it is not being completed, then as counselor your must question if the counseled is wanting or ready to receive truth and guidance from the Lord. Sometimes someone is just not ready and needs someone to tell them it’s okay to put the counseling or discipling on hold until the timing is right. From my own experience, I had to end a discipleship because of this very issue. It was tough because you don’t that person to feel rejected or unloved. I firmly believe God’s timing is perfect and when He’s is ready to move in a person’s life, discipleship will happen and counseling will be authentic and spirit filled.

    • Yeah, MichelleR, sometimes we have to dispense the pill of ‘tough love’, just like Pastor Jeff alluded to in the podcast. We don’t have to counsel everybody, particularly when they seem to have other agendas in wasting the time of the counselor. Like you, I have also made mistakes in the counseling ministry, and the podcasts in this module have come out very useful for effective counseling.

    • I like the option of suggesting waiting time to the counselee until they are truly ready to partake in the whole process. I completely agree with it being tough to confront this issue (especially with an introverted, non-confrontational personality), but it is for their best interest and can be done with grace. It is so worth it to wait for authenticity so that the Spirit can be fully welcomed into the process.

    • Your comment about the counseled not being ready or willing to receive truth and guidance was like Pastor Jeff’s comment that he sometimes has to tell them there are other counselors they can go to. It is humbling to know that there are people that we can’t or won’t be able to help because they are not ready to receive the help we offer. God’s timing is perfect.

    • Hi Michelle, I agree that it’s tough because you don’t want that person to feel rejected or unloved. People who are called by God into repentance, and they heed the call, come to us because we might be the closest thing to God that they have experienced. As a new believer, their rejection could cause them to feel rejected by God. It’s like an infant’s needs not being cared for; rejection can cause them to go into a rabbit hole that could lead to physical death – unsaved. That is frightening. We need to be ready to give a bible to a new believer, and literature that will help the new believer grow and understand their sin nature, and why change is so important.

    • Hello Michelle, thank you for sharing from your experiences. The homework is need from them to get alone with the Lord. I love the example from the week 8 assignment of asking the counselee why they did not do the homework. But distracted with other things in the world could be exactly why they are not receiving help from God in the situation.

    • I agree Michelle, I wish I would have learned this a long time ago! I’m thankful though that God is teaching me these truths now. In the past I definitely would have shied away from giving homework or even ending a discipleship, for fear of rejecting/hurting the person. But I realize now God uses our tough love to accomplish change and repentance as well.

  • Great podcast. I loved the emphasis on relying on prayer and on the Word of God. Prayer will open the door for the Holy Spirit to give guidance into the heart of the problem. Relying on the Word of God will keep the focus on the truth, and help to avoid wandering off into the weeds of man’s wisdom. The wisdom of man will always fall short, since it seeks to place the blame on everyone and everything except where it belongs. We can never turn away from sin in our lives if we can blame it on others. The Word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12), and can get right to the problem.

    • Relying on prayer and the word of God stood out to me as well. I never realized how important it was to “set the tone” for the meeting. When I think back at my informal and at the time unknown counseling conversations, I remember thinking “Wow, how did we get on this topic?” And I realize that I was listening too much with the conversation not rooted in prayer or scripture from the beginning.

    • So true, people can not be helped if they do not realize that the problem is within them, sin. We all have problems in our lives but those whom rely on the word of God to complete them find peace in the Wonderful Counselor. The word of God can and will cut out sin if we allow it, as you quoted. (Hebrews 4:12)

  • Thanks, Pastor Jeff, for the very useful best practice guides for holding counseling sessions in this podcast. I also see in them some safeguards for a successful counseling ministry.
    I very much like and appreciate the caution that Pastor Jeff shared, that as counselors, we should look out for the red flags of blame passing and not wanting to take responsibility for the issues leading to the conflict when listening to counselees. These are usually geared towards soliciting sympathy from the counselor and/or diverting the attention of the counselor elsewhere. And that as counselors we should resist the urge to join in sinning against the other party, who is not present. These are very useful counseling tit-bits to keep one away from unnecessary troubles in counseling sessions. There are hazards in counseling as in all ministries, and we need to have proper safeguards.
    That being said, the first thing of counseling, where am I, spiritually? Do I have a proper personal walk with God? This is an appropriate self-check question for the counselor, not just before a counseling session, but serves as an everyday assessment of our spiritual life.
    Just like the Bible says, when a man is overtaken in any trespass, those who are spiritual should restore such a one, and in doing so, they should consider themselves, lest they be tempted (Galatians 6:1).

    • That close personal walk with God is of great importance. It is easy for people to seek relief from problem situations without changing the bad habits that got them in the wrong place to start with. It is paramount that having that close walk be address at the beginning. Skipping this step will result in no results.

    • Good point Songo! The Word has multiple warnings for those who would teach others. Wo to us as counselors if we live hypocritical lives without repentance! And why would we want to counsel if we don’t really believe there is power over sin and the experience of living a victorious life. If we aren’t experiencing it, we can’t preach it. We might as well be a social club which slaps each other on the back and says, “Hang in there bud!”

    • So important to keep our walk in check. I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 9:27 when Paul says “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” We must develop disciplined lives ourselves so that we do not run in vain.

      • Amen we should always aim to walk by Gods standards and not our own, or the worlds. Especially as counselors and essentially teachers , heeding the warning “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.”
        ‭‭James‬ ‭3:1‬ ‭(:

      • I’m with you Liel! Our own walk with Christ is crucial, lest we be like the blind leading the blind. Either way, to counsel or to be counseled, the question of Christ’s presence in each one is what matters. Without Him, we can do nothing, but with Him, everything is possible. Ultimately, Christ is all we need to make it.

    • I like the Bible verse used at the end of your comment to back the thought that we as counselors need to be right in our own relationship with the Lord. Yes, safeguards to keep us from gossip are also very needed. That was one thing I never fully thought about before, that even just listening to someone “rant” or gossip would mean that as some point I too would be sinning.

    • I also thought that was excellent advice, Sombo! These smoke screens that people use keep them from dealing with the true issues that are binding them and driving them to seek counseling. We have all done it, may the Lord give us His wisdom as we seek to help others to walk in the Spirit and Truth.

    • Thank you for sharing,
      It is important that we pray before because the Holy Spirit will clear our minds and soul to watch for the things that are causing issues, the stability of each individual, and how connected they are to Jesus. Because most of the time there is a huge disconnection in their spiritual life and they have not been able to see that and the enemy has deceived them.
      Slef check is an important part of this thank you so much for making this a point

    • I agree with that point to be watchful for (what Jeff called) sinful communication. As our hearts are deceitful, it’s very easy to fall for the trap of misguided information. I think that’s where relying on the Holy Spirit becomes so important, because it is Him who convicts the heart of sin, and we can depend on that for our own hearts and hopefully the heart of the counselee.
      Our Spiritual walk should always be kept in mind, as you mentioned, and it is such a good reminder for me to ask those questions, because chances are, if I have to ask that question, I have to go spend some time with Jesus!

    • Hi Songo, thank you for sharing.
      I also appreciate the reinforcement in us of how important is to check our walk with the Lord. First and foremost, how is our spiritual lives. How can be a tool for other people if i don’t have a walk with God.

    • It is true, making sure that we keep things focused on the true counselor and making sure they have a real relationship with Christ. Knowing where they are in their walk is very important.
      Setting your counseling, based off of their level of understanding and their relationship. It makes sense to give them homework to gage their commitment but also to see their understanding of that scripture.

    • Yes, a personal walk with the Lord is essential! If we ourselves do not obtain daily counsel from the Lord how can we point others to Him. Thank you for reminding me that I must daily evaluate where I am spiritually in order to serve those the good Lord has entrusted to me. Blessings.

    • Good insight and summation of the podcast. That word ‘safeguard’ is important. I like how Pastor Jeff was honest in saying that there could be very interesting stuff said, but that if it is placed in the realm of gossip or blame-passing we must redirect the counselee. It really IS easy to get caught up their story, and we have to stay alert so as not to join in sinning against the other party. And, as you said, our own spiritual walk is the first thing. Thank you, Songo.

    • I agree it is important on both parties as to where we are in our own personal walk with the Lord, apart from Him we can do nothing. We need to have proper safe guards to help us to allow the Holy Spirit to work through us and not allow our self life to be apart of the counseling. Thinking that we can counsel on our own. that is a dangerous place to go.

  • One of the first individuals I counseled years ago was a man who seemed to be “me infested” and it really brought our sessions to a quick close because he just didn’t feel his side of the story needed addressing. Instead, he spent a lot of time talking about his spouse’s issues, having a laundry list of offenses I as his counselor needed to tell him, so he could go and tell her what she should do. Overall, our sessions ended because I ended them. The reason for this was I decided both he and his wife needed to be present for our times together but he always made the claim his wife would never concede to the idea of meeting with me. After that season was over, I would get a lot of texts each week for prayers in which most of the prayer needs he said, he was writing while being right in the middle of a fight they were having. Talk about awkward! I finally told him that I wasn’t the guy to help him and I referred him to a local marriage counseling service which was free to them and every time I would get a text, I would lovingly remind him of what they should go and do. Eventually, the texts began to dwindle, and finally, they stopped. And it’s not that I didn’t say a prayer for them each time – praying their fight would come to an end and the fight would end well. My inability to deal with his unwillingness to work on his own marriage in a logical and right manner really warranted the work by a professional. So the ball is still in his court at the moment, even after all these years and Pastor Jeff’s podcast brought this situation back to my mind. I hope they are okay and both of them work on their Christian marriage and for the sake of their 2 boys as well.

    • Hi Sam. I can so relate to your experience counseling the “me-infested.” Same story but in my case it was a woman who claimed her husband was literally making her crazy. Interestingly, I believe they really want to be set free but they are looking to their environment to change to meet their needs instead of God changing them to meet the needs of their environment which is how Christ truly does set us free. Paul says it so expertly, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Cor. 9:8

      • I agree Carolyn,
        When we rely upon the self to hopefully enact change, we not only experience a lack of results to what we hope changes but what we are also saying is we have a lack of faith in the One who has the ability to change the heart of a person. Let us be reminded about when God has altered the heart of a spouse, friend, or even an enemy toward healing and perfect change. God can do it again!

    • Hi Sam, I understand the frustration that this could cause. When my husband and I were conducting alter call one evening, a man came forward and told us that he wanted to repent. As we stood there listening to his confession, he then said that he was an alcoholic and wanted to repent for everything except for his alcoholism because he wasn’t going to quit. After about 10 minutes, the only thing that I could get a word in edgewise, was that he couldn’t pick and choose what he wanted the Lord to forgive him for. But it continued to be all about his drinking and partying, and we couldn’t even minister why in his sin he is condemned, and couldn’t even lead him to salvation. All I could do was speak over him once to say, I can’t lead you to the Lord because you are unwilling, and walk away. My heart was saddened. We will, occasionally see him, and we pray for him, and his behavior is disruptive when he’s present; so I pray that the Lord will continue to bring him to a place where true repentance happens.

      • Hello Kristi,
        I believe that is the prayer to continue with. Nothing will help him until he is willing to put all of that on the cross he is to bear and allow that to be sacrificed. It is much easier said than done but with God’s help, the Lord will empower him to see things removed which on one day has such a grip but on the next day, God loosens that grip and he is freed. God just wants us to trust in Him. Once this man finally gets it, that what Christ has to offer is better than what he is allowing in himself, then a move toward using his body as a temple of the Lord, daily sacrificing his flesh on the altar of Christ within him, then he will become the holy priest he is to be – not for himself but for God. It doesn’t mean his desire to drink goes away, but God calls us to sacrifice these things by a denial of them every day and that is what God honors through our faith. We can continue to pray for this man. I believe one day he will see where he can walk with God but tossing the rest away according to the Lord.

  • This podcast was so helpful and ministered to my heart! I wrote down a few things that really stood out to me or things that have never crossed my mind before! The first points were very convicting asking myself how my own spiritual walk is. Taking Bible classes, it can be easy for me to think “oh I’m always in the Bible.” But that is VERY different from hearing specifically from God about my own heart.

    Where are we spiritually, are we walking and committed to God? Are we abiding in Christ to begin with? We are encouraging others to “walk as we walk.”
    We need to ask how their walk is:
    Are you in the word?
    Is the Lord speaking to you? How?
    What is your prayer life like?- ask them to pray… do they even know how to pray?
    What is their church life like?- are they involved?
    Medical history?/ Upbringing/everyday life/ who is influencing them?
    We need to be lead by the HS and have a passage of scripture to focus on for that moment. We need to be prepared to bring a teaching on their struggle. We need to open with prayer and the WORD from the start. Be careful about listening to the problem too long or too in depth ( so we are not dwelling on the problem, but still have a chance to understand before we speak.) We need to set the tone!
    Listen for: sinful communication: gossip etc.
    Is the person saved?
    We need to give them “growth excersizes” to help them practically on their own, are they even willing to do it?

  • I again appreciate the standard set for the counselee. It’s so important that there is a genuine interest shown, and that God’s Word takes the preeminence and bulk of the session. Being aware of the danger of gossip within sessions is also important and something I had not thought too much about. I definitely like the homework idea. The main goal is always to bring them to the feet of Jesus. Biblical counselors remind me of the four friends who lowered their paralyzed companion through the roof so that He might be at the feet of Jesus. All of our efforts are to this end–that they might be brought to the presence of Jesus, so that they might be healed.

    • That is a very good analogy of how we should be with everyone that we counsel. Willing and able to bring them to the feet of Jesus. But we can only do that if we ourselves are near to Him. As Pastor Jeff suggested, it starts with us, it starts with me being in the will of God and being his servant in my entire life. Love your comment.

    • I too had not thought of the dangers of being pulled into gossip, slander, and other sinful practices while counseling. I will have to pray about this and seek God’s counsel on where to draw the line. Being in prayer before, during, and after, as Jeff mentioned is key to staying Spirit-led and able to counsel in a godly manner.

    • Thank you for sharing Liel. I like the homework idea too. it will show If they are interested in being help. The bible says that “the Word of God is powerful and sharper than any two edged sword..” We pray they are receptive to hearing the truth. It will heal their current situation.

  • Loved Jeff’s point regarding having a counseling structure as a general guide without sacrificing the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I’ve often experienced unnatural insights into the root cause of the counselee’s trouble which demonstrated to the counselee God’s knowledge of them and grew their faith and trust in Him. The Word always has prominence in either case and I liken it to what Jesus said to the teachers of His day when they would bring Him a Biblical question regarding their beliefs, “You do err not knowing the Scriptures or the power of God.” Matt 22:29
    Both are part of how God teaches us truth about Himself and His Kingdom. When a counselee experiences the power of God in their life coupled with the power of the Living Word of God to transform, people change. Often, they give testimony of change so deep and lasting they know they didn’t pull it off.

    • This is so true Carolyn, the power of the Word of God is amazing! I remember when I first became a believer, I carried around my pocket New Testament and read it everywhere I went! I even got in trouble at work because I would read it during slow moments (I was a hostess). Two years later I went onto the mission field! Now, I carry it on my phone 🙂 It has been amazing to see this same power transform the lives of people and families who had no idea that God is alive and active today!

    • Amen,
      We are like a tourist guide just letting people know where the amazing things are and how can they enjoy them. Pointing to Him with our actions and words makes a huge difference. Thank you so much for sharing
      The word of God is sufficient because it it was for me it will be for you

      • A great way to put it Pablo! It is as you said it simply, as Biblical Counselors, “we’re all like tourist guides, pointing them to ‘the way,’ in essence, and your words, “letting people know where the amazing things are and how to enjoy them.” We truly are the guide towards God and the amazing things He offers.

  • I loved this podcast on the practices a counselor should be living, Because it reminds us that we must have a personal and present relationship with Our God first, in order to be counseling and disciplining others. The first suggestion in opening with prayer is powerful because it’s a way for God to enter the situation with us. As well as the reminder in Proverbs 18:13 that “He who answers a matter before he hears [it], It [is] folly and shame to him..”Listening is more important at times than rushing to speak, and it shows we are caring for the counseled. I loved the emphasis on making sure the person being discipled has a relationship with Christ first especially in a professional setting because if they aren’t saved they might not be ready to hear and receive from the word of God, which is the only thing that can change them and the situation. This might make them more wiilling to do the homework also 🙂 With close family and friends I find myself offering counsel from the word of God many times before that person is ready to receive Christ though.

  • What a helpful podcast! One thing I always forget is that I don’t have to counsel everyone who wants me to counsel them and that I can’t help everybody. That was a good reminder. I naturally want to help everyone, but it isn’t always helpful. Sometimes, a different counselor is a better fit, for everyone. It can be a hard call to make, but can avoid drastic situations.

    I am leading a new believers group with young ladies (through zoom) and it has been such a blessing. I had naturally followed Jeff’s outline, which is really encouraging! They are growing in the Lord, in the Word and are overcoming difficult situations! The Lord is good!

    • Becky, It is great that you have a believers group with young ladies. It is always so wonderful to see when people start growing in the Lord. You can see it in peoples eyes.
      You are doing a great think helping people find peace through The Word, the Holy Spirit, Prayer, groups like the one you are leading and of course the wonderful lessons from great Pastors. Good Luck! The Lord is Good!

      • Thank you for the encouragement Carrie, the Lord is good! I am amazed at how He has been working through this past season to bring people unto Himself!

    • The Lord showed me this in a very clear way recently. I was willing to counsel and He very clearly showed me that I was not the one to counsel a young lady who needed counseling. It was humbling for me but I had to trust that God knows why and He wanted my submission and acceptance and to trust Him. It was a good lesson in trust and being led by the Spirit. Thank you for sharing! May the Lord Bless in your new believers group! That is very exciting!

      • I understand Audra, it is humbling. We often are taught that we are to always be available, but sometimes, we aren’t the right ones to minister to specific people. He has someone else for them. God bless. you Audra!

    • YES, yes & yes! When you have a GIFT to counsel and that is paired with being a PLEASER, it seems as though people crawl out of the woodwork and show up in our lives and expect counsel. So often we are called to informally counsel and get caught up in off the cuff situations, where we may not be the most ideal person for the job. Or perhaps personal reasons forfeit our ability to be the most ideal counsel per the situation. An aspect of Pastor Jeff’s podcast, which was helpful to me this week, was pointing out that we do not have to accept the task at hand, if it is not the right fit. It is OK to say no if the situation, and prayer, yield it so. I am working on establishing healthy boundaries in my own life. I am also working to grow in the Lord & in the Word. Are you open to new members of your ZOOM group? I’d love the info and opportunity to join if time allows…..

      • Yes, Yes! That is me, I am a fixer and a pleaser and so I was freed by Pastor Jeff’s counsel to prayfully consider whom you counsel. That not everyone who comes my way is meant to be counseled or discipled by me. My prayer that the discernment of the Spirit grows ever keener within me, as so I do not fall into the trap of guilt and shame for respecting my own set of clear boundaries. I am praying to be present enough with the Lord that He will guide me when it is the one to refer on and I will know just to whom to send them.

      • Hi Jessica, I hear you! It is such a learning experience! Fortunately we have the wonderful counsellor who is right there to help us to help others, and to steer us in the right direction! I do have a hard time telling people that I’m not the right fit though, I’m getting better at it though!

        I really love our zoom group, it is in French though, so that may be a hindrance. I’m the pastor’s wife at Calvary Chapel Paris, where are you serving?

      • Jessica, I can see your heart in wanted to help people. It sounds that you are a social person and you can make people feel comfortable. I have a friend who enjoys social gatherings. People seem to gravitate towards him for counseling help but because he is a business owner he doesn’t have much time in his hands. However, I saw it as a perfect gift to point people to Christ.

    • Becky, that is amazing! It is so overwhelming satisfying to see the spiritual growth in people, it’s like we can “taste and see that the Lord is good” and it is such an honor that he would use imperfect people like us to do such a wonderful life changing thing for His children. May the Lord richly bless you and the ministry.

      • It is such an honor to be able to accompany people through this stage of their Christian walk, I was quite intimidated at first but it has been so amazing, I’ve really enjoyed it. The ladies are growing and especially in times like these, it is such an encouragement to see new growth.

    • Praise be to God! I will be praying for your ministry group, always so much fun to lead new believers. The zealous hearts, that first love fire, there is nothing better 🙂 Be blessed as you are being poured out I pray they can see and hear God through you and they thirst and to go deep deep into the Lord and they have a hunger that only the Daily Bread with satisfy.

      • Thank you so much Christi and amen! They are great young ladies who love the Lord whilst living in very difficult situations. It is an honor to accompany them through this season of firsts.

    • I too love this boundary. It is freeing to know we are only called to disciple those God ask us to disciple. We can feel obligated to help everyone. We have had many who just want to wallow in their issues, point fingers and or expect us to be their quick fix. I love the permission to say no.

      • Well said. It is sad when people are not in a place to allow the Lord to make any changes in their lives. Hearts have to be prepared for that. There needs to be a humbling and softening done first before people are receptive to change and allowing the Lord to work in their hearts. Good to have discernment as to who we invest our time in. We don’t want to waste time spinning wheels and sowing seeds to the flesh.

    • I tend to forget that also sometimes, that I may not always be the right person to help that one. They may need someone else to help them. I will not always be the one who God wants to use. Sometimes for me its hard to be obedient and do what the Holy Spirit is showing because it could be something I think I can help with but in reality there is someone else better equip to help.

      • That is true Margaret, God always picks the right person to minister and if it isn’t us, it is someone else who maybe has experienced more in that area.

      • I have had a hard time with that myself, Margaret. I occasionally think when someone comes to me for help, I might only be needed to direct him or her to someone with the life experience to better minister to them. Over many years and hard lessons, Jesus has taught me that, especially when helping someone in need, it isn’t about me! It is about them!

    • I like how you restated that Becky, I tend to want to meet with and disciple many women, and yet I have to be truthful with you will be committed who I can be committed to, and what the Lord would have me do. I was discipling a young lady, who just wasn’t satisfied with me discipling her and at first I took that personally and then realized, maybe the Lord has someone who will be able to speak to her in a way that she is able to receive. She was living in sin and wanting approval for her sin, and when I couldn’t give her that she went looking for someone who could, I don’t think she wanted to be counseled, I think she wanted to speak more than grow or be corrected by God’s word. Ultimately, my job is to point them to Christ and how to practically do that. But, there are those who have committed themselves to Christ and to growing, and they are thriving and growing in ways that only the Lord could do as His spirit rules in them. <3

    • Thanks for sharing, Becky! I like what you mentioned, “One thing I always forget is that I don’t have to counsel everyone who wants me to counsel them and that I can’t help everybody.” I also find this true for myself.

      I also found the outline very helpful as a foundation to start off the counseling. It covers the beginning to the end and is definitely encouraging. I’m excited to see how the Lord is going to use this in the next counseling session.

  • What struck me first was the need for us to be right with God ourselves. There are so many times when we try to fix someone else and we may need to be fixed even more than the one we are trying to minister to. Make sure there is no plank in my own eye before I try to remove the splinter in someone else’s eye. Very, Very true.
    Next I heard that the one to be counseled needs to be ready to be helped. They need to be attentive and prepared to do what needs to be done to let God work in them His mercy and change of heart that will make a difference in their lives. They need to be willing to do the work that it takes to get closer to God and to be discipled.
    Don’t try to fix them yourself, get them into the word of God and let the Wonderful Counselor counsel them in love and truth.
    Prayer, prayer, prayer, invite the Holy Spirit for guidance and instruction. Use what God has given us, His Spirit, His word, His instruction, His direction, His love, His grace, His mercy, His, His, His to do the work that needs to be done in all our lives.
    This class has opened my eyes to an even greater need for myself to get into the word but not just get into the word but to learn it, memorize it, digest it, not only for others but I myself can be a better man of God. That I will have a closer walk with God and therefore be a better witness to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen

    • So true, James. The closer the walk we have with God, the more useful we become as instruments in the hands of Jesus the divine physician. When we come to God with honest confession and are willing to repent of whatever the Spirit convicts us of, God empowers us to counsel others in the very areas that we ourselves struggle with. This, in turn, enables us to better comprehend where the counselee is coming from and meet them where they’re at.

    • James, I began as a biblical counseling student for the reasons that you mentioned here: to make sure that I am fixed before trying to help someone else; recognizing that I may have a plank in my eye and need to remove even the last splinter if there is one left after taking out the plank, and how to use scripture always instead of my own knowledge. I try to put myself in as the object that needs repaired or changed so that I can fully understand, and this way I can ask myself these important questions in any situation to help me to understand, such as: have I sinned; have I prayed over it before during and after; am I able to find relevant scripture according to my problem or have I sought out counsel, and what was the result; what do I have to do in order to repent and detach from this “sin,” and reattach to the Lord; where do I go from here.
      I have always tried to understand the bigger picture in a Bible book, and relate it to the sinful nature of current events, but as you said; this class has opened my eyes to the importance of not just knowing the word (or the story’s meaning), but to memorize scripture, so that I can “better witness my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to others.”

  • I loved this episode! I found it so helpful and practical, and I loved the balance Jeff gave with the outline giving structure but also leaving room for the Holy Spirit to work. I think I tend to get caught up in listening to the “story” for too long and giving too much affirmation (like, if someone is complaining too much I find myself being too sympathetic when I should redirect to the idea of self-life). I’m challenged to limit myself here and be much quicker to shift the focus to the Word of God. And I appreciated the emphasis on giving homework as well. I need that reminder that if someone is coming to me for counsel, then they genuinely want to see growth/change in their life and therefore *should* be willing to do the work. I think I’m too easy on people, for fear I’ll scare them off. But I liked how Jeff shared that it’s ok to send someone on their way if they aren’t taking it seriously. And the best and most encouraging part for me was just the reminder that in assigning the reading of God’s Word, we are simply sending them to spend time with the true Counselor!

    • Rachel, it is freeing for me also to hear that it is okay to pass on counseling someone who isn’t taking the discipleship seriously or willing to do the hard work of diving into Scripture on their own and doing memorization. I really like the practical parameters that he gave and that prayer is at the beginning, middle and end of the time. Everything we say should point right to Jesus!

  • What a timely episode, I was asked to sit down with a family that has been having issues within them. I agree because after praying I felt God leading me to help. I started by getting to know each individual and gathering info in regards to their emotional and mental status I prayed on the way and before speaking to them, they reject to be prayed over but it did not stop me, some of the things that Pastor jeff mentioned I failed at but all in all I did point them to Jesus and let them know that they are forgiven of their mistakes and that the issues are rooted on a misunderstanding of it because they were brought up in a church that they described as legalistic almost like Jehova witnesses, I affirmed them that Jesus paid for their sins and they can have eternal life with Him and all he wants is for them to know what and who He is. The enemy tried to get in and start division by having them accuse each other of past things but I advised them to look past that and see each other as image-bearers of God. I will sit down again with them and will be bringing more of His gospel but I said to them that I am not the solution Jesus is I am here to point them to HIm. This helped me a lot as well, everything I said I was telling myself as well.
    All these points that Pastor Jeff made are valid and useful, when we remove ourselves and ask HIm to do the work miracles happen when we pray we are calm and we can see things otherwise we will ignore them.

    Thank you so much

    • I will pray for you as you counsel this family! Those situations can be so tricky, especially with children in the mix. Learning about each individual, and then finding those specific ways to minister to each one really requires the guidance of the Holy Spirit, because He knows the heart and needs, as we can only know so much of their surface. Having those boundaries to keep the blame shifting and shaming languages out of the conversation requires discernment, for sure. May the Lord keep you and work His will through you!

    • WOW! I love this post thank you for sharing. Isn’t is just like Satan to hold people hostage with the past! I feel that you know that you are hovering on a break thru when the past is constantly brought up…it functions as such a smoke screen, a diversion, just when we are on the verge of positive momentum. If the past can just lie still, we can easily grasp onto hope for the future and in that hope maintain a present viewpoint and perspective. I love how you said that we must remove ourselves, step to the side, and allow God to work his miracles. AMEN!

    • Thank you for sharing your actual experience. I learn best from real experiences. I love how God equips us with just what we need when we need it or assures us we are on the right path when we are discipling. I am praying your next encounter with them will glorify God and that God will use you powerfully in their lives.

    • Your current counseling sounds like chapter 10 in our book The way people change” many people blame shift. we first saw this in Genesis with Adam and Eve blaming their sin on another person. That is our natural response because it’s effortless and more comfortable. However, God says that our sinful response to life’s problems can tell us where our hearts are. What we do is blame everything on external problems family, work, and our past. God can not do a humbling work in someone’s heart if they cant properly diagnose the source of the issue.

  • When Pastor Jeff said, “I want them to learn to go to God and seek Him for themselves. They don’t need a counselor forever; they need to learn how to commit daily time to, reading their bible and praying on their own.” It reminded me that this is our goal in discipleship, to point people to God and show them how to learn from His word and live according to it. That takes the pressure off us because we don’t have to come up with a solution. God already tells us the way we should live and interact with one another. I also liked Pastor Jeff’s advice to have scripture ready to share for each session. And the fact that homework is a great indicator of how serious, committed, and willing they are to grow.

  • Thanks for the informative pod cast on the counseling session. For giving us tools to use when going through the counseling session, and things we should do as the counselor and the things for the counselee. Seeing where we are spiritually in our walk with God, not only helps with an every day thing but also helps us from looking to self to do the counseling but allows us to see we are just the instrument being using the true counselor is not us, and by opening in prayer we allow the Spirit to come in and guide us and instruct us through the session. It could be very easy to over look who the real counselor is if we are not walking with God, I can see how easy it would be to try and lean upon our own understanding, and not wait for the guidance of the wonderful counselor.

    • Great point, Margaret. While we may wear the label of “counselor”, it is ultimately Christ the Wonderful Counselor who should guide our sessions and our lives. Opening in prayer helps us avoid the temptation of leaning upon our own understanding and falling into the trap of “human-centered” counseling.

  • I am grateful Pastor Jeff as you pointed out in essence, to not be all about the problem, nor is it about us coming up with our own formula or strategy as we help others, but, to make it about the ‘one to another-ing,‘ ‘a ministering meeting,’ as you described, to minister and genuinely care for the one in need. To lead and set up their appointment with the One who not only cares above all of us, but the only One who holds the answers to all of life’s troubles and concerns. Thank you for laying out our foundation for an effective and purposeful ministry and calling, with the useful insights and detailed guidelines you provided Pastor Jeff! From your other teaching podcasts and this, I’ve learned that authentic Biblical Counseling is true care and love for others, enough to lead and guide them towards the One who truly cares and love them. In this area of practice, credibility comes as we reflect Christ’s sufficiency within us, ourselves, to the ones we counsel.

  • I liked what Jeff said about not having to disciple everyone that comes my way. That was actually a huge relief for me to hear; knowing that I don’t have to disciple everyone, but I am able to seek God for the ones that I am supposed to disciple. That is a huge encouragement to me.
    I also liked the suggestion of having a binder or “cheat sheets” of the Gospel to use for those who are not saved. I might have to make one of those, and maybe some for different categories to reference to when I need them. Having a rough outline is certainly helpful for me as I am easily distracted and can waver to lots of different thoughts.
    The last point I really liked was this: They come to us for counsel, and we send them to the Wonderful Counselor. I think that is really neat and puts my work into perspective; that I am not the counselor, but a road map to the Wonderful Counselor who is able to save and strengthen them.

  • As usual, great podcast Pastor Jeff. Great information how a discipleship time takes place. Aside from the steps to take in a counseling session, of great importance is to have a walk with the Lord before we counsel anybody. I have heard this throughout this whole course, and I believe this part of counseling is a must, otherwise, how are we going to hear from Jesus, the Great Counselor. It solidifies the fact that we are not who is going to counsel but the Lord.
    At the end what we are doing is discipleship. We listen from them what is going on but just enough to have an idea of the situation. Proverbs 18:13 says “He who answers a matter before he hears, it is folly and shame to him”. Always be on alert to not fall into gossiping. The part that click in my head was what Pastor Jeff says that the Lord brought them to us to give them the gospel, to impart the Word of God to them. The little they know is that they don’t come to have an appointment with us, but with the Lord. Love it!
    True healing comes from God.

  • The steps in a counseling situation are really helpful when we are trying to stay within the outline of what the Lord would like to see during a counseling situation. While Pastor Jeff was providing these nuggets, I was trying to think about a matter, and how I would appropriately respond. I can see how a counseling situation could get caught up in the details of a matter, and how we could get caught up in talking about it – how this person or that person caused the reaction/s. I’m prone to being detail oriented, so I can see myself listening for something that would get to the heart of the matter; but the heart of the matter is sin.

    Since we interact with others all of the time, it’s easy, in a worldly life, to believe that the cause could be because of something someone else first did, and their response came only because of what the other person did. Their belief could be that if this wouldn’t have happened, then their reaction or behavior or set of thoughts wouldn’t have happened (Matt 7:1,5; 6:25-34; Mark 8:34-38 could be given as an example to deny themselves ).

    Our job as biblical counselors is to help them to see our sin nature:
    We are born into a fallen world and it’s our nature to sin (our inherited sin from the garden);
    We will continue in sin without the knowledge of the word of God (1 Cor 10:13 -No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man…)
    And receiving forgiveness because of what Jesus did for us on the cross (John 3:16-21; Eph 2:8-9)

    And by reading the Bible and being in prayer and meditating on scripture will cause the old person to be replaced with the new person who is now in Christ (John 3:36) and why it’s important to remain in Christ.

    I know there are many more scriptures that can be added into this, but I think, out of the scriptures that we are to memorize from our self-confrontation manual, these are great examples of helping the counselee to see how important the scriptures are, and how understanding God is when it comes to knowing what is truly in the sinful heart and why we need Jesus.
    If practice develops skill, then I certainly want to memorize all that I can so that I lack nothing when ministering to others, and others truly benefit from the wisdom that God has gifted to me in the scriptures. I will work a little harder in this area.

  • I love the idea of filling out having the counselee fill out an info page before the first counseling session. Like pastor Jeff pointed out it is important to get to know the person and to know what their relationship with the Lord is like. This is a stark difference between worldly counseling and biblical counseling. For biblical counseling the priority is that the person would know the gospel and come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. That is what makes the difference when facing trials in life.

    The guidelines pastor Jeff laid out for the counseling session were also very helpful. I appreciate the loose structure that allows freedom to go where the Spirit leads. The idea of having the counselee complete some homework is a great idea. I know I have developed some great habits since starting school at CCU because of the homework.

  • I really enjoyed this podcast. Knowing the real job is to get them to that relationship with the true counselor. Having that structured foundation makes sense. To be able to stay in the spirit through constant prayer, but also showing the person you are counseling what it looks like to involve the Lord in their situation.
    I can see the importance of understanding where they are in their walk and structuring scriptures and the conversation at a level that they can understand. Giving homework at that level as well. This would make it easier for them to accomplish this and not get frustrated.
    You defiantly come across so many different types of people, but the issues all tend to be in pretty specific categories, finding the right scripture and then teaching on that after they have had time to memorize it and had time to meditate on it. Having that teaching seems like a really great idea. Talking about their experience can open up some amazing moment for you as a counselor as well, seeing the way that God is working through them.
    Thanks again for a wonderful teaching.

    • Truly, Carrie, ‘Having that structured foundation makes sense’, and provides a very enabling platform(system) for the counseling session, thereby saving one time and energy.

  • This was such an insightful lesson on having a good practical guideline when counseling someone. What spoke to me was when Jeff talked about how we are led by the Holy Spirit that we wont follow a formula. I tend to be that person that makes a guideline when meeting with someone and won’t leave room for anything else. This is something I need to practice more and to be more open to the Holy Spirit. I also love how Jeff reminds me that when we counsel someone that we need to be fully available and genuine with their life story. When Jeff was talking about this it kept me picturing Jesus when He was counseling His disciples and listening to them and others. I picture Jesus looking at the people when they talked to Him and being fully available and genuine. I pray to be more and more like Jesus when I counsel others.

  • I appreciate the practical way Pastor Jeff laid out his typical counseling sessions. What I really love is how his goal is to counsel a person to the place where they are seeking our Wonderful Counselor on their own. This is the opposite of the world’s system of counseling where the sessions are seemingly never-ending, very costly and the results are carnal and centered around self.
    This podcast takes me back a couple of quarters where we were delving into abiding in the Vine and the importance of being nourished and sustained through Scripture, in Jesus. This is fundamental in our own lives if we are going to successfully point those who come to us for counsel because everything we say must point to Jesus, our Wonderful Counselor.
    I also appreciate the delineation regarding listening. It is important to be a great listener but not to the point where we enter into sin by listening to toxic gossip or slander of anyone.
    Finally, I agree that a counseling situation requires the focus of both parties. If I am distracted when someone is sharing their heart with me, then I am not a safe person to entrust their story to. Likewise, if I am taking the time to invest in a persons life, then the phone should be put away and on do not disturb along with guard rails put into place to eliminate distractions. This is a consideration that should be made and respected.

    • Hi Audra. I feel the same way about the helpfulness of this podcast. It created an excitement in me to better prepare to counsel. This past weekend four people came into my path – in a non-counseling situation – to whom I was able to speak a few words… words I would not have had until this course. One person had told me how important it is for her to see her neurotherapist (?) because she found she had to go back and remember everything that happened so she could address it. Even though she appreciated and agreed with what I said, she didn’t feel (even as a Christian) that it applied to her because her issues were more complicated. As there were other people present, I did not push the issue with her at that time, but I do see her at church every week 😉

  • This lesson was great! First and foremost – I am sure we all agree that our own spiritual lives must be in order, and I liked that he reminded us of that. Trying to counsel from an empty soul would be like trying to give someone a drink of water out of an empty cup. We cannot give what we do not have.
    Another area was not thinking that you can, or should, counsel everyone. For a lot of us, saying ‘no’ to something is not easy, and he ‘gave us permission’ to set guidelines for whom we agree to counsel. This frees us up to work with those who are truly seeking help.
    I appreciate that we have the freedom to work with the guidelines, not adhere to them without fluctuation, understanding that the Holy Spirit will have us work differently with different individuals.
    I get more excited about this class with every podcast. These will al be such a great resource to go back and listen.

    • The analogy that Pastor Jeff gave regarding the guidelines in counseling were very helpful. As someone who likes to have an exact set of rules and procedure to follow it is sometimes difficult to let the Holy Spirit lead within those guidelines. That is definitely something I need to work on. I am not the one leading the counseling, the Holy Spirit is.

  • One of the main reasons I am taking this class is due to the fact that any arena that I find myself in I seem to draw out those in need of counsel. Discipleship thru evangelism is something I am working to strengthen in my own life so this podcast episode seemed very appropriate and timely. I was recently counseling a dear friend who came to me to gain some insight into a personal dilemma. I was able to employ a framework of biblical counseling questions, as gathered from this and preceding podcast episodes. This was helpful in allowing us to get to the “heart of the matter” much faster than if we had just talked circles around the issues. I am working on committing more scripture/foundational truths to memory so I am able to be a stronger disciple in these situations. Opening and closing in prayer is also an aspect that I am trying to integrate into consistent practice. Prayer is something that I am frequently engaged in however it is more of an ongoing internal banter. Prior to engaging with anyone in a counseling manner, and throughout a meeting, I meet with God and ask for his wisdom & discernment to be imparted, however it has not been something which I share with the other party. Prayer has always been something personal for me and I am trying to become more comfortable with wearing it on the outside as brilliantly as it is on the inside. I am beginning to see that by keeping my prayer life private and not being open to sharing it, I have not allowed myself to operate fully in the gifts which God has imparted in me. Working to gain confidence in sharing my prayer life with others, in particular in a counseling setting, is a personal goal. My homework will be to begin and conclude counseling sessions in prayer.

  • I like how Pastor Jeff made the point that when people meet with us, we point them to the “real counselor”..the Wonderful Counselor. Sure, God uses us as His hands and feet but ultimately we want them to be able to get into the Word and get into God and find the help they need for their problems so they don’t need us anymore. I also thought it was encouraging that we should be prayerful and get into the Word as soon or as much as possible. We do need to listen and understand their situation but we don’t want to spend the whole session focused on their negative circumstances..we want to infuse the situation with hope from the Word of God. And we also want to make sure that they are in Christ before we go anywhere else with them. So important! And he mentioned not needing to know EVERY nitty gritty detail of a situation. It could be sinful to get in the flesh with the counselee and allow them to say bad things about their spouse or other people or to get too much detail…wisdom!

    • That’s what is so great about biblical counseling, we do not have to have all the answers. Our job is to point them to the One who does! Going to the Bible as soon as possible is something that stuck out to me as well. It is so easy to get caught up in all of the negative in our lives. The Bible is there to point us back to God and provide everything we need to live our lives honoring Him.

    • Angela, I agree with you. The point that Pastor Jeff made that we point them to the Wonderful Counselor and get them into the Word helping them receive what they need so they don’t need us anymore, is the complete opposite of what a secular counselor does. Since the person being counseled is their “bread and butter”, they will be in psychoanalysis for years. What a contrast!

  • I love “fill in the blanks” style forms, but obviously, they can be a substitute for listening and developing a relationship with the person you are working with. I am not counseling anyone currently, but I am discipling a couple of young men. I think this approach to the meeting will bear fruit quickly. Like pastor Jeff, I have a hard time working with someone who isn’t really interested or doesn’t take what we are doing seriously, so I think sticking to a format like this, at least as a general guideline, will assist me in staying on topic and keep the meeting to the agreed-upon time.

    • Hi James,
      Thank you for your honesty. As counselors or Mentors it is vital to know our strengths and weaknesses, so that we can honor God in our ministry He called us too. I agree with you that the guidelines that were given in the podcast are asset to help guide and asset us whether we are counseling or discipling. thanks for sharing. blessings!

  • This was a great podcast and very insightful. Staring with prayer was such a good reminder of who is our help. I recently was talking with a man about Jesus and I could hardly get a word in during our conversation. He really opened up about his backsliding, anger to God, and decerning. Also starting with walking in the spirit and refreshing in God’s fullness. There are many who are beseeching God to send help. We are those people who can be used by God. I myself get a huge relief knowing God is in charge of changing hearts. I always remember the impacted God had in my life when my unbelief starts to creep into doubt. However, as jeff explain the session worked if it was more about Jesus and less about external problems. As we all glorify God and put Him in the center our personal insecurities become small.

    • It amazes me that God would even want to have fellowship with me, let alone use me in His kingdom! For some strange reason, a lot of people that I start up conversations with will open up like an onion and tell me every layer of their lives until they reach the core of why they are struggling with things. And most of the people that this has occurred with are people that I had just met!

      • That’s amazing Greg! People must feel comfortable around you and that enables them to open their heart without feeling hindered. I think people can tell when they are around someone who sincerely cares and is a good listener..someone that they can trust. I’m sure the Holy Spirit is involved too in enabling that to happen like that. I too have experienced that where people I barely know are divulging a lot of detail about their lives. I can also think of situations where the tables were turned and I was the one spilling the beans. I knew the person was safe and trusted her. I know at times I share more than I had planned to, but the Lord is moving in our midst!

    • When I first started speaking to friends or co-workers about God’s ability to heal lives and fix relationships, I spent too much time talking and not nearly enough time praying. A burden was lifted when I realized that it wasn’t me providing the healing; it was God. I would be so worried that I would say something wrong or that they would disagree with my theology that I would try and avoid those meetings. Once prayer and Jesus became the focus and source, I could breathe again!

    • Thanks for sharing, Luis. I totally agree and also was reminded about starting off in prayer. I remember going into a counseling session before, and we got so into the conversation that the prayer was the last thing that happened during the closing. Most of the counsel was not spirit led, and it’s so important to pray before, during and after so that the Lord would continue to anoint the conversation and fill us with wisdom to share from His Word. On the other hand, there were other counseling sessions where it was filled with prayer and so much wisdom was given and heart was humbled by the Word of God. I definitely agree that we must put Christ in the center . . . of everything in our lives. Thanks for sharing, Luis.

  • I appreciate this reminder that all I can do is point someone to Christ for the true counseling. Biblical counseling truly is discipling. It’s easy for me to forget this and feel defeated when someone doesn’t respond to the scriptures and prayers. They continue with blame shifting and not taking responsibility for their actions. It’s not my job to do the convicting but the work of the Holy Spirit. So this was a timely message for me as I was feeling low and rejected by this family member. I was accused of “manipulating them by guilt”. I have pointed them to scripture, praise, prayer and godliness with contentment. I realize that they just wanted to complain and have me listen to the complaining. So listening to this podcast today helped me to refocus. It was good to be reminded by Pastor Jeff, it’s better to talk less about the issue and spend more time inviting God into the person’s situation. If this person feels that they are being “manipulated by guilt”, well then I’m not the one that should be feeling rejected. It’s really God who is being rejected and He is able to handle it better than me.

  • I am so glad you that emphasized the importance of commitment and involvement to a local church and under the shepherding and leading of pastors and elders. It seems like people think badly of the local church, but, where is the accountability and growth and exercising of our gifts if we are not. How are we to practice “the one another” scriptures in the Bible with if we are never with our family in Christ. The gifts are given for the edifying of the body. So yes, we should not neglect the gathering and participating in the local church. The criteria to a Biblical Counselor should be that we are believers who are walking, seeking and growing and abiding in Christ, before we try to counsel others to do the same. It’s amazing how many believers I know who aren’t even comfortable praying out loud after 10+ years of walking with the Lord. I am one who ask those things which Pastor Jeff is speaking of in this podcast before I even ask someone to come alongside me in leadership of any ministry.

    Recently I was asked to be the Director of a Moms ministry, and as I pray and seek my leadership team, I sat with each of them to see where they are at, what they believe, how faithful they are to serving, if their family is supportive of them in ministry, and so forth. I usually will already know the character of these women before I sit with them, but I think its good to genuinely show them that you genuinely care. I also want to ask the Lord for boldness if I need to direct someone to the idea that maybe this isn’t their season for this particular commitment if I see that they are forcing the issue or are unable to fulfill the expectations of leading in the ministry.

    As far as counseling, I just think that every leader should be equipped with these tools Pastor Jeff is mentioning, because when ministering to others, there will be discussion, circumstances, questions, or issues that will arise when doing life with others that will need godly counsel or direction. So, the importance of being equipped, growing, and being able to pray and listen well to others and with others is so important. Thank you so much for the steps you have given, they are a great guide and set us up for success in ministering and counseling to others well.

  • Thanks, Pastor Jeff, for the very useful best practice guides for holding counseling sessions in this podcast. I also see in them some safeguards for a successful counseling ministry.
    I very much like and appreciate the caution that Pastor Jeff shared, that as counselors, we should look out for the red flags of blame passing and not wanting to take responsibility for the issues leading to the conflict when listening to counselees. These are usually geared towards soliciting sympathy from the counselor and/or diverting the attention of the counselor elsewhere. And that as counselors we should resist the urge to join in sinning against the other party, who is not present. These are very useful counseling tidbits to keep one away from unnecessary troubles in counseling sessions. There are hazards in counseling as in all ministries, and we need to have proper safeguards.
    That being said, the first thing of counseling, where am I, spiritually? Do I have a proper personal walk with God? This is an appropriate self-check question for the counselor, not just before a counseling session, but serves as an everyday assessment of our spiritual life.
    Just like the Bible says, when a man is overtaken in any trespass, those who are spiritual should restore such a one, and in doing so, they should consider themselves, lest they be tempted (Galatians 6:1).

  • I am a “How to” type person and I love these episodes that illustrate the way a counseling session should go. I always felt a little lost on what happened after opening in prayer. I was always caught between I should talk or I should just listen. I’ve been practicing on my listening skills and find my self asking the Lord for discernment even in causal conversations at work or with my children. Without a doubt, meditating on scripture in the process of learning how to serve others, I have been the most transformed. In every situation I have been going through, I know God has a word for it. I don’t wait for a person to comfort me or guide me, I know to go and search His word. He really is the wonderful counselor, the healer and the comforter. I pray that each and every one of us here can be a stepping stone for others that they may learn that Jesus really is the answer for all life’s issues.

    • I have never been to a counseling session, nor have I ever lead one so these classes are showing me how things should go. I understand that the Holy Spirit will guide every counseling session differently, it is just nice to see what a counseling session should look like before leading one.

  • One of the main things that stood out to me was the importance of getting to know about the person so that you are going into a counseling session blind. I would have not thought of that before starting a counseling session. Another thing that stood out to me was how pastor Jeff said how he gives out homework. For some people who have a really high education, he would give them some harder topics and for a person with a lower education, he would give them homework that wasn’t as hard to do. This is great because I thought that almost every counseling session would be practically the same, however pastor Jeff clarified that every counseling session is completely different for the different person that you or I would be counseling.

    • Hello Greg, thank you for sharing! Having the questionnaire is helpful was well about you have know a head of time to pray about the issues and seek the Holy Spirit. Through homework we know how serious the counselee is going to take the counsel. It gives a baseline to talk about in the second session.

  • No matter the problem, Jesus is the solution. Jesus is the Answer. Jesus saves. This is the bottom line in all that we will counsel. There is nothing new under the sun. 1 Corinthians 10:13, No temptation has overtaken you except which is common to man. God is faithful. he made a way of escape. He sent Jesus to die on a Cross for you and me. That is the truth of it. We are just there to guide them to the Savior, to show them where to find the answer.
    The one thing that set me free in this week’s podcast teaching was that it is okay to set clear boundaries and expectations around your counseling ministry. It is okay to not work with every person who crosses your path, or who asked your advice. I know God will make the vision clear as who is ready to meet the Wonderful Counsellor and who isn’t quite yet.
    This actually goes directly in line with another believer who was encouraging us in the same thing using verse Matthew 7:6. Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. Right now there are a lot of people caught up in panic, the fear and chaos of the age. They long to know the truth and to feel safe and yet when you share the very thing with them they are searching for, for lack of understanding they just may tear you a new one. I pray that we not grow weary in doing good and that God gives us discernment to see the ones who are ready for picking. There is going to be a Harvest, I know it feels like alot of seeds have fallen on rocky and thorny ground, and it has but we cannot stop sowing the seed, we cannot stop sharing the love of Jesus we cannot stop watering the dry and thirsty land. I know when I lay my people pleasing ways down at his feet, when I stop worrying about what others are going too say of me, when I give God my ego and instead with the Holy Spirit we go into the world on the daily He will lead us to the very ones who are ready to receive Him. All else can be a big distraction, so covet your time and your energy. Love everybody but serve those whom He shows you to serve. I found myself again with this past year and the virus and vaccine, trying to save my family, the ones I love the most on this earth, I found myself circling the wagons and sharing information and trying to get them to see. Just this past week, since hearing Pastor Jeff teach this very thing in our course Zoom call and now this week on the podcast, along with the other verse did I realize I was casting my pearls before swine, I have been wasting my time in a field God did not assign to me and I recognize it and I am following Him to where I should be and asking for eyes to see the people he brings before me.

    • Hi Christi, thanks for sharing your heart on this. I definitely feel the same in that I was really encouraged with the reminder that we can set boundaries and we don’t have to say yes to everyone! Sometimes I feel guilty in not being there for every single person who wants me to be there for them, but the reality is that the only One I should be trying to please is God.

    • Christi, I hear you. It’s very difficult, though, when the pearls you are casting are being trampled by the people you love and want to be saved. I am also experiencing this with some of my family who are dear to my heart and it leaves me heartbroken. Then I have to remember that God is in control and I am not the right person to whom they will listen to. So I have to release them and let God do what He will in their lives while I pray for them.

  • well good overview. Understanding the client/counselee is the primary goal for this purpose: obviously to determine their readiness to be discipled. With all of my secular clients I ask if they want to include biblical principles into the treatment. Some say yes but are too timid to say no, and that comes out. Understanding the spiritual condition and history of their walk is primary evidence as to how the counseling relationship will go, of course we always start with the question what brings you to counseling. Normally, Christians, backslidden or not, will always have their spiritual situation as part of the presentation. If they are coming to a church for counseling and they do not mention any spiritual struggle or their conviction of sin, nor of any relationship with the Lord, it is a pretty good indicator that they are not saved. True Christians always have, as part of their issues, their spiritual separation from the Lord. So that is really the decision point which will guide the type of questions going forward. No mention of the Lord, then…’who is Jesus to you?”, if they do mention their relationship with the Lord then it is more to asking questions to determine their spiritual status, part of that of course is, how much scripture have you memorized. How has the Lord helped you with your last difficulty. So yes this podcast is right on the money as usual, get the measure of the spiritual condition is primary/first, as Jeff says.

  • Great podcast. Love the practicality. The 8 list items is so helpful. 1. personal data inventory 2. prayer 3. listen 4. discern if they are saved 5. discern if they are not walking with the Lord/ backslidden? 6. use of the word 7. homework 8. end in prayer

    I am not about formulas. I prefer to allow Holy Spirit to lead. But I have gotten into situations many times that having a list would be helpful. The using as a guideline vs. a formula is such valuable advice. Being prepared with the guidelines and scripture allows the Holy Spirit to lead and guide yet if I get in the way I have a fall back!!

  • Thank you Prof Christianson for the practical application. I think personally in my mind I needed to hear its not a one size fits all when counseling. Counseling isn’t able to one, two, three steps to follow. Each person is different and the Holy Spirit will let me know what the person needs at the time. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5 ESV).

    I love how the first session you said to let the counselee talk and then give out homework. The application of homework is needed for the second session.

  • Great podcast! One thing that really resonated with me was the mention of homework and if they are serious, “little do they know that when I give them homework, I’m setting them up with an appointment with the real Counselor. When they go and read the Bible, and they are praying, they are having a private, one-on-one appointment, with the Wonderful Counselor. I’m just an instrument.” I love this because it demonstrates their genuine seeking of the Lord, and gets them to act out on faith by doing what is recommended by the counselor. I love how pastor Jeff mentioned, “I want them to learn to go straight to God and seek Him for themselves . . . they need to learn how to commit daily time to reading the Bible and praying on their own.” I’ve learned from this podcast that when someone is seeking counsel from me, I also need to be reminded to encourage them seek the Lord alone, devote their time in reading their Bible and praying on their own, without me needed. This will prevent me from playing the middle man between them and the Lord. Great podcast!

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