Dr. Daryl L. Franzel  Pastor Capitol City Baptist Church Holt, MI

The need and the art of counseling is far more important today than ever before in the Christian community. There are certain guidelines that need to be observed in deciding to counsel and then in how to counsel. My first recommendation is to understand how to counsel. Some training is best, along with a proper God directed attitude in dealing with other’s problems.

The act of counseling is not an inquisition. It is a time of listening, qualifying according to the word of God, and then providing loving Godly advice. Care in counseling must always be at the forefront of all conversations and actions. It is important not to be judgmental nor emotionally attached to the person or the type of situation. We cannot help an individual or couple if we are clouded by personal opinions or preferences. Only when we can remain objective in the situation can we truly be of Christian service. The word of God will always give to us the answer to life’s issues; however, it does need to be applied in a manner that seems logical to the problem at hand.

The next thing that needs to be discussed is safeguarding your counselee and yourself in the process of counseling. As a pastor or male counselor, you should never counsel a woman alone, in her home or even in your office. Always have your wife, secretary or someone nearby, and if you are in a separate room make sure uncovered windows are in the doors and your desk is positioned where you can be seen at all times. Many a well-intended pastor or counselor was accused of wrongdoing, mainly because of lack of cautionary steps.

If the need presented is out of your area of training and experience, consider referring the individual or couple to another, better trained counselor. Never allow pride to get in your way. You are there to help the person being counseled, not you. A good Christian counselor’s aim is working himself out of a job. Counseling people is indeed a calling and a gift of God, but a career is not based on counseling one individual for a multitude of sessions.

My final recommendation is this — keep your sessions short, 20 to 50 minutes at the most. To counsel for a long period of time will wear you and the person being counsel out. As a pastor it is important to establish priorities in your ministry. If more counseling is needed than you have time for, consider using a trained staff person or trained lay-counselor to meet the needs.