Chains small

The counsellor

counselling involves three persons, not two

Side notes

All Bible references are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

[1] John 14:16, 26
16 “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever..”
26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

[2] John 16:5-15
“But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

[3] 1 Corinthians 3:18-20
Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their craftiness," and again, "The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile."

[4] Joshua 1:8
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

[5] Proverbs 3:5-8
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

[6] Hebrews 4:12-13
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

[7] Galatians 6:1-5
Brothers,if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.

[8] James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

[9] Ezekiel 3:19
But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.

[10] Romans 14:12
So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

[11] Proverbs 11:14
Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.

[12] Proverbs 15:22
Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.

[13] Proverbs 24:6
..for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.

[14] 1 Corinthians 12
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says "Jesus is accursed!" and no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except in the Holy Spirit.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?
But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.
If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

[15] John 16:13
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

[16] Matthew 7:1-5
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

[17] Matthew 9:36-38
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."

[18] Luke 13:14
But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, "There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day."

[19] 1 Timothy 4:12
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

[20] Proverbs 11:13
Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.

[21] Proverbs 20:19
Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.

[22] Romans 7:15-20
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

[23] 1 Peter 5:8-9
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

[24] 1 John 2:15
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

[25] 2 Timothy 2:20-26
Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

As society continues to degenerate, more and more pressure is being placed on anyone showing willingness to become involved in the ministry of counselling. The most noteworthy of Bible counsellors available today is of course the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised his disciples that he would not leave them stranded, and he didn’t. John 14:16, 26[1] The Holy Spirit came in the fullness of time and has been recognised ever since as the highest authority in human affairs. And so he should be. As God, he created humans, and who would know better the intricacies of a creation than its Creator?

To become involved and successful in counselling we need to understand and practise a number of truths:

  1. The Holy Spirit is the ultimate living authority on any and every area of human life and should be recognised as such. This means that we need to actively pursue a lifestyle that will involve his leadership and interaction with us. We need to learn ways and means of discerning his voice from our own ‘common’ sense, and even more importantly, from the counterfeit ‘wisdom’ of demons. Where emotions and expectations die through abuse there is only one who can bring life from death – the Holy Spirit, so it is senseless and foolish to seek wisdom from any other source. John 16:5-15[2], 1 Corinthians 3:18-20[3], (Also 7 times between Revelation 2:1 and 3:22)
  2. The Bible is the ultimate written authority on any and every area of life and should be recognised as such. This means that we need to be actively reading its pages and meditating on its principles. We cannot and should not give advice if we do not know what Scripture has to say about the subject under discussion. Joshua 1:8[4], Proverbs 3:5-8[5], Hebrews 4:12-13[6]
  3. We are not the Holy Spirit! Our job, when called upon to counsel, is to seek God’s wisdom in the relevant situation and share it with the person seeking help, no more, no less. We must not place ourselves in any position of authority over the one seeking help. The body of Christ does not belong to us, it belongs to Jesus. As counsellors we do not have any right to force our interpretation of God’s Word on others. To do so is an abuse of privilege. Galatians 6:1-5[7], James 1:5[8]
  4. We cannot change anybody. God gives sovereignty of will to each human. He respects each one’s sovereignty, and he expects us to do the same. Each person has to make his/her own choice about what to do with counsel given. This means that we should not carry the burden of guilt if the person being helped rejects our counsel and turns away. Provided we have been faithful in sharing the truth, God will not call us to account for any failure. Ezekiel 3:19[9], Romans 14:12[10]
  5. We do not know all the answers, and we never will, therefore we must always have within ourselves a teachable attitude. It is easy to come to a place of familiarity with a particular problem and think we know all about it, but every person has a uniquely different background, with innumerable combinations of circumstances moulding the current revealed need, and we need to be willing to admit our shortfalls of knowledge and wisdom, and offer to research the issue more thoroughly, or find some one else who can help. Proverbs 11:14[11], Proverbs 15:22[12], Proverbs 24:6[13], 1 Corinthians 12[14]
  6. We must be faithful to share the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. To step beyond our mandate and either speak more than is required, or to withhold that which is required, is breaking the trust which a person seeking help is placing in us. People need the truth, even if it hurts; otherwise they can rightly blame us if things go wrong down the track due to inadequate knowledge. This is, after all, how the Holy Spirit works. John 16:13[15]
  7. We need to have a compassionate heart. There are two types of truth. One that brings condemnation, and one that brings hope. Truth is there in both instances, but we are forbidden to judge people, and neither our speech nor our body language should do so. There are enough in society now who specialise in condemning without our adding to the list. Matthew 7:1-5[16], Matthew 9:36-38[17], Luke 13:14[18]
  8. We must be pure in speech and action. 1 Timothy 4:12[19] It is generally the hurting ones who seek counsel, and that often reluctantly, and we may be the last straw being clutched at. To further abuse those already abused has to be one of the deepest forms of betrayal, and may even have eternal consequences for a soul. If a person supposedly representing God can’t be trusted then who can? And so the wounded one may never again look towards God for help.
  9. We must be able to hold secrets. Proverbs 11:13[20], Proverbs 20:19[21] Hurting people find it exceedingly difficult to share some deep shames and pains, and to discover them spread around the Church later on is viciously cruel. If we can’t keep secrets we shouldn’t bother even starting with counselling. If we need to seek further wisdom from someone else, we must obtain permission first, or at the very least so disguise the circumstances that no recognition of the person being discussed is possible.

There are two significant verses of Scripture worth noting. The Bible presents Malachi 2:7-8 tlb as this: Priests’ lips should flow with the knowledge of God so that the people will learn God’s laws…..and men should come to them for guidance. This is a good summary of the responsibility of the counsellor and the aim of any counselling entered into. The second verse, found in Ephesians 4:15 niv, says: …speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

Remember that there are three persons involved in counselling, not two – the the one being counselled, the counsellor and God. The wisdom and requirements of God must remain the centre and focus of all counselling. This should always be remembered. If the one being counselled reveals sin, then the counsellor brings God’s law to meet it, with the aim of producing repentance and, if necessary, restitution. There is no other way. If the one being counselled presents suffering and woundedness, then the counsellor brings God’s love into focus, this time with the aim of producing forgiveness and faithfulness. Again, there is no other way.

May I be so bold here as to suggest that all counselling must keep the twin goals of repentance and forgiveness in mind. The Bible teaches that we have only three enemies – the flesh, world and devil. Romans 7:15-20[22], 1 Peter 5:8-9[23], 1 John 2:15[24] The flesh (our sin) must be dealt with through repentance, the world (our suffering) must be faced through forgiveness, and the devil represents the kingdom of evil beings who seek to hold us in bondage through un-repentance or unforgiveness, and need, when discerned, to be driven out.

Counselling can become far too complicated, so we need to work at the simplicity of the Christian faith. God desires it so. It is the work of Satan to make issues so complex that we give up trying to resolve them. Don’t allow him to bluff us in any such way.

Many issues that come to us needing resolving and healing, will remain so unless we learn to look for the roots of problems instead of concentrating on the rather obvious fruits before us. As we listen to the problems being spelt out, we should keep an ear open to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying. We should listen well – to the one before us and to the Holy Spirit. We should never be in a hurry to answer. Sometimes a good deal of healing can be achieved by simply being available to listen. Not too many folk do that sort of thing nowadays. It is probably a safe rule to say that the root of the problem is never the same as the fruit. There may be exceptions to this, but they will prove rare. Many hurts that spill out have their roots buried years back, even into the earliest of childhood.

Be gentle. Physical surgery is never easy, and often frightening. Spiritual surgery is the same. It is never pleasant to expose raw nerves and bleeding hurts, but if wholeness is to be achieved, spiritual surgery is necessary. As Jeremiah 6:14 tlb states with almost sarcastic humour – You can’t heal a wound by saying it’s not there!

Well, friend, can you be a counsellor? Yes you can. The word counsellor, when defined, simply means to come to one’s aid, to come along side and to comfort. You can do that can’t you?

Be encouraged with a closing Scripture. In Acts 4:5-13 niv we read the account of how two ordinary men were scrutinised, evaluated and assessed by no less than the top legal and theological brains in Israel. Their response is written for all to read – When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realised that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

So, live with Jesus, every day, all the way – and become a vessel fit for the Master’s use. 2 Timothy 2:20-26[25]


This paper seeks to accurately represent the teachings of Holy Scriptures. You are free to copy or alter all or any part of this paper PROVIDED that the Holy Scriptures are not misrepresented as a result.