The question of counselling

Nowadays many celebrities speak freely, even glowingly, about ‘my counsellor’ (or ‘analyst’). Arguments are batted back and forth among Christians as to whether counselling is a humanistic idea, and ‘only God should be my counsellor?’ After all, don’t we remind ourselves every Christmas that:

‘To us a child is born, to us a son I given; … and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor’ (Isaiah 9:6).

And as that Son was about to move his bodily presence from this planet after he rose from the dead, did he not promise his disciples he would send the Holy Spirit:

‘I will ask the Father, and he will give you another counsellor to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth’ (John 14:16-17; also John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7).

So, it goes without saying that God is the supreme counsellor. If we study how he counsels we will learn best practice. One method he has employed from the very earliest examples of his counselling lost, confused souls is the art of asking the right questions. 

[] He could have confronted Adam with the dreadful facts: ‘I know where you are, and what you have done!’ But instead, he plies him with three questions to make Adam reflect on where he now finds himself, and what he did to get there:

‘Where are you?’ (Genesis 3:9). ‘Who told you that you were naked?’ (Genesis 11:1-32). ‘Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ (Genesis 11:1-32). ‘Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?”’ (Genesis 13:1-18).

[] And when Cain had murdered his brother Abel in jealous rage God continues this method:

Where is Abel your brother?’ (Genesis 4:9). ‘What have you done?’ (Genesis 10:1-32).

[] Twice God put the same question to Elijah, suffering from nervous exhaustion after the astounding miracle of fire from heaven and the ending of a three-year drought, as he cowered in a cave on Mount Sinai (Horeb) probably seeking a thunderous voice from above as Moses had heard God speak through earthquake and fire:

‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ (1 Kings 19:9, 13).

Best practice counselling, then, should begin with non-directive questions to cause those in need to consider for themselves their state and how they got there. Then God certainly did give directive counsel in all the above examples. We must listen to the ‘sound of the whisper’ of the heavenly Counsellor, who will never contradict his own holy Manual. Indeed, he will lead us to the appropriate Scriptures of truth that he himself caused to be written.

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