I am not a talented swimmer. Actually, I am not a swimmer at all. Never trained in the water, I do not know how to swim. If I would slip into the deep end, I would be in trouble. At best, I could fight to keep my head above water. Left to myself and without training in how to swim, my chances of making it out of the water are slim. As a pastor and Bible college professor, I admit I have similar feelings when it comes to biblical counseling.
Competent to Counsel
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul writes to the Romans, “I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another” (Romans 15:14, emphasis mine). When Paul encourages the Romans of their ability to instruct one another, the picture he is painting is these believers are competent to counsel one another. They can swim in the deep end of instructing one another. While I was blessed to take one course in biblical counseling in my undergraduate, I received no further training in biblical counseling in my seminary program. I had the basics of biblical counseling but not anything more. At best, I was keeping my head above water.
My lack of training was further exposed when I began serving in pastoral ministry as an associate pastor. My interaction with the people in the church I serve opened my eyes to the various issues and problems these different groups and ages of people face. I began seeing more of a need to grow in this area of biblical counseling. This especially hit a tipping point this summer as I engaged with students at our summer church camp. A good number of the children came from broken families. As the camp speaker, I knew I could only do so much within a span of a few days. I shared the gospel with them, and I pointed them to the hope they can have in Jesus Christ. Yet, I sensed I could have better addressed particular desires and particular battles the youth were facing. It felt as if I told them to swim without training them how. Simply put, I felt incompetent for the task.
Time to Train
This pastoral concern of caring for others reaches both the church and the academy. As I continue in pastoral ministry and as I teach college students, the need to give biblical counsel will only grow. The matter is not whether I will counsel or not. The matter is will my counsel be robustly biblical or not. In order to prepare myself to meet the complexities of pastoring and shepherding people, I must take counsel. I must learn from other Christians on how to counsel biblically when the questions and situations one is facing are complex and multifaceted. I need training. Just as training is important in for swimming, training is essential in biblical counseling. For this reason, I am excited to share with you beginning this Fall, I am taking biblical counseling training courses with Rod & Staff Ministries. My intention is to work toward becoming a certified biblical counselor. As I take this necessary step, would you pray with me God would grow me to be “full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct”? May the training I receive be for other’s good and for the God’s glory!