Not far from where I live there is pastor whose marriage has broken down. Yet, he is still in ministry. If your marriage or a friend’s marriage was having difficulties, would you go to him for help? Why not? It obvious that there are certain commitments that the biblical counselor must hold to. So, what are the private commitments of a biblical counselor?
Commitments determine character
The commitments of a biblical counselor are not simply to define what a counselor is. They determine the direction of the life of the counselor. That is to say, the counselor is to lead a life according to a high biblical standard. Looking at the commitments a counselor holds in private reveals the character the counselor truly values, because the commitments of a person determine the quality of their character. Where these commitments are lacking, eventually so too will the character of the counselor be lacking. Therefore these commitments are foundational.
Commitment to Scripture
First, there should be a commitment to scripture. This isn’t a vague commitment like, “of course, I believe the Bible.” This is a commitment to the authority of God as revealed in His Word and a commitment to the sufficiency and inerrancy of the word of God. Simply put, if God’s Word is not authoritative, or if there are errors in it, or if it is not sufficient for life and godliness, we will probably give people counsel based on some other source. As we’ve seen, this is fine for what it is, but it isn’t biblical counseling.The commitments of a person determine the quality of their character Click To Tweet
Commitment to Christ
Christ is the counselor’s Lord. He is the ultimate solution to the needs of counselees, and the counselor has nothing greater to offer than Christ. Counseling is not first about fixing problems, but about bringing reconciliation between people and God through Christ, His appointed savior (Acts 4:12). The relationship between Christ and the individual is bigger and lasts longer than any specific problems they may have, yet our walk with Christ informs these problems and allows people to see through them how Christ may be working to change them or their circumstances for His purposes.
Commitment to the Church
Biblical Counseling ideally takes place within the church. Christ has appointed the church as His representative on earth until he comes again. The church is a collection of individuals who Christ has redeemed and gifted to love and serve one another. Those who are being counseled need the ministry of others in the church and need to be involved in serving others. The church is most necessary when counseling is ineffective, as the whole church together can apply the necessary care or admonition an individual needs. When an individual rejects the faithful correction of the church, the individual also rejects Christ. The counselor should be committed to the church so that their work complements the other members of the church. A Biblical counselor focuses on heart change, not merely behavioral change Click To Tweet
Commitment to Authority
<p>Counselors recognize that every human being is under authority. God is the ultimate authority over all, who has delegated His authority to Christ, who in turn has delegated authority to the church (Matt 16:19). God has also delegated authority to civil authorities (Rom 13:2), to employers (Eph 6:5), to parents (Eph 6:1), to husbands (1 Cor 11:3), and to elders (Heb. 13:17). If God has instituted certain authority structures, and God is the ultimate authority, who are we to undermine these structures?</p>
<p>God has designed humans to be people who live under submission in numerous areas of life. Biblical counselors do not advise people to break the biblical chains of authority that the Lord has ordained. While many situations may require intervention and great wisdom, biblical counselors value and uphold the authority structures that God has instituted in His wisdom and grace.</p>
Commitment to Purity
If a counselor is committed to the scripture and to Christ, then what Christ and the scripture say about purity will determine that the counselor is also committed to purity. A biblical counselor recognizes that marriage is an institution God has given for the good of individuals, the benefit of society and the flourishing of the human race. Therefore, biblical counselors fully affirm the value and importance of marriage both for individuals and society.
This is evident in their commitment to their own sexual purity. The scriptures instruct us to flee sexual immorality (1 Cor 6:18). This means Biblical counselors avoid any sexual involvement outside of their own marriage. Such avoidance is not simply a matter of not engaging in sexual innuendo and activity, but extends to the life of the mind and what the counselor does when alone.
If God has instituted certain authority structures, and God is the ultimate authority, who are we to undermine these structures? Click To Tweet
Biblical counselors also pursue purity in the lives of those they counsel. Sexual fidelity reflects the Godward devotion that the Creator desires from His creatures. When individuals walk in purity, they please and glorify God. Purity also provides the greatest benefit and happiness to individuals. Therefore, the biblical counselor is interested in the counselee’s physical, mental and emotional purity and will encourage them toward this end.
Commitment to Integrity
The biblical counselor is committed to personal integrity. That is, they are a person of their word. A commitment to integrity includes speaking the truth, representing other’s fairly, maintaining privacy to the fullest extent possible before the Lord, keeping verbal commitments, and being faithful to the requirements of instituted authorities.
This also means biblical counselors are committed to humility as pride can cause us to over-inflate our experiences, qualifications, and importance. A commitment to integrity means not accepting bribes, or allowing themselves to be manipulated by those they counsel or outside authorities, but rather holding firmly to a faithful understanding of the word of God. The integrity of the Biblical counselor is recognized by those who know them.
Commitment to Reconciliation
God created people to live in relationship with one another. Sin breaks relationships, and sin is primarily against God (Ps 51:4). Therefore repentance toward God should also mean working diligently toward reconciliation between people. Biblical counselors want to “be at peace with all men” (Rom 12:18), as this is what God calls followers of Christ to, and what He created man for.
Biblical counselors seek to address the problems that create discord and disunity and identify a path for one or both parties to pursue peace and reconciliation in their relationship. Reconciliation is not a matter of simply papering over the issues, but of addressing the heart to resolve the cause. However, Biblical counselors realize that it is not always possible to reconcile every broken relationship. We live in a fallen world and often one or both people don’t want reconciliation. Yet, Biblical counselors will seek peace wherever there is an option to do so within the bounds of biblical wisdom. Repentance toward God should also mean working diligently toward reconciliation between people Click To Tweet
Commitment to Humanity
God created man in His own image, which means that there is dignity to human beings which separates man from animals. For this reason, Biblical counselors have a high view of man. Therefore, biblical counselors oppose abortion, euthanasia, selective reduction and assisted suicide since these acts belittle the image of God (Gen 9:6).
A biblical commitment to humanity means recognizing what God reveals about the nature of man. God created mankind as a combination of the physical and non-physical. The Biblical counselor, therefore, seeks to care for both, recognizing that organic (bodily) issues may impact the soul and that the soul may impact the condition of the body. When helping people a biblical counselor will not neglect either of these realms but will inquire and reflect on how these aspects may impact each other in the situation under discussion.
Finally, because God made the body and the soul, biblical counselors regard human sexuality as an integral part of who the individual is. This recognizing the distinctions between men and women and that God intended different roles and biology for men and women. These roles extend to the home, the church, and society.
Commitment to Care
Biblical counselors recognize the goodness of God and that He has placed each individual on the earth to do good to others and glorify God. The Biblical counselor recognizes they have a role in caring for those who need help. This will mean giving of themselves to help those who seek their help. Sometimes a Biblical counselor will pursue people beyond the counselee’s desire in order to do what is right for them, the church, and the Lord. Throughout the caring process, the counselor will seek to align their words with their actions, so that their help is practical when it needs to be.The desire for competency will give the biblical counselor a hunger to read, and a teachable spirit Click To Tweet
Commitment to Competency
Biblical counselors recognize that they are taking the life and wellbeing of others into their hands. They know they the Lord will judge them for their faithfulness to Him and the situation. Fearing God, a Biblical counselor seeks to know the word of God well, to understand counseling methodology thoroughly. This means they seek continually to improve themselves. The desire for competency will give the biblical counselor a hunger to read, and a teachable spirit. This commitment also means that a biblical counselor will do the necessary research to ensure the counsel they give is faithful to scripture and rooted in a practical awareness of the issues.
Commitment to Methodology
Biblical counselors help people change biblically. This means the counselor follows sound principles of biblical interpretation and listens patiently to the heart. This enables them to help those they are counseling by reorienting their beliefs, thought patterns, desires, and actions so they can glorify God in all they do. A Biblical counselor focuses on heart change, not merely behavioral change. Heart change is primarily a change of heart toward the Lord and His word. Therefore, the counselor leads those they are helping to confess and repent of sin and draw near to God in times of need. Biblical counselors also recognize their dependence on the Lord and bring those they are helping and their own counseling before the Lord in prayer.Biblical counselors don't just read about these commitments and ascent to them. They are formed in them through their own walk with Christ Click To Tweet
These private commitments determine the conduct of the biblical counselor in their own life and daily commitments as well as in the counseling session. These commitments provide those the counselor is helping with a high degree of confidence that their counselor is a person who belongs to Christ and who lives what they teach. This also means that biblical counselors are people who have grown in their own right.
Biblical counselors don’t just read about these commitments and ascent to them. They are formed in them through their own walk with Christ. They are someone who has strived against and continues to strive against sin and against their own flesh. The counselor is not above those they help but is someone who has fought the same fight and has come a little further along the same path. This is why the Biblical counselor points people back to Christ. It is Christ who has changed the counselor through His word and His methods.
Are there any commitments that I’ve missed? Any that need more detail? Leave a comment below.
Note: While planning this post I noticed there was a lot of overlap between the points I had and the ACBC Standards of Conduct, so I’ve adapted several of my points from there.