Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What makes A Great Counselor?

With certainty we will all have experiences in our life (loss of a loved one, fired from a job, tragic car accident, watching your child make wrong decisions) that make no sense. And many of us will ask God, "Why?" Thankfully, there are many of you out there; pastors, friends, teachers, family, doctors, and counselors who are gifted in listening and giving timely Godly counsel. Without these relationships I think many people who suffer would move from faith to despair instead of slowly returning to God and hope. But how do great counselors engage people in a Christian context when they are suffering?

David Powlison in the book "Suffering and the Sovereignty of God" give a few timely hints...

People... often focus exclusively on "the problem." They ask about "the problem." They offer advice for solving "the problem." They care for you! They are well-meaning attempts to be helpful. But the effect can become unkind. Many significant sufferings have no remedy until the day when all tears are wiped away. Your disease or disability is incurable. Your loved one is dead. The marriage is over. The money is gone. There may be partial helps along the way. There may be partial redemption. There will be no fix. Often the biggest problem for any sufferer is not "the problem." It is the spiritual challenge the problem presents. "How are you doing in the midst of what you are going through? What are you learning? Where are you failing? Where do you need encouragement? Will you learn to live well and wisely within pain, limitation, weakness and loss? Will suffering define you? Will faith and love grow, or will you shrivel up?" These issues are more important than "the problem" in the final analysis. They take asking, thinking, listening, responding. They take time. People are often clumsy and uncomprehending about the most important things, while pouring energy and love into solving what is often insoluble.

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