Counseling One Another - Founders Ministries
“I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness,
complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another” (Romans 15:14).
. . . Counseling one another involves not only dealing with sin, but also encouraging those who are suffering from depression, discouragement, loss, or grief. Paul demonstrates this aspect of counseling in 1 Thessalonians where he encourages those who have had family members and friends who have died. (See 4:13–5:11; see also 1 Corinthians 15 where he talks about the resurrection and the fact that death no longer has a sting for the believer.) Peter closes his letter with wonderful words of comfort to those who, as a result of their faith, have been scattered, with these wonderful words of comfort: “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10). Paul gives words of comfort about the suffering we must undergo as believers. He tells us that we should rejoice in our suffering, because “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:3–5).
Our roles, therefore, as counselors to one another are not only to deal with sin, but also to offer comfort and cheer. Further, we are to train and instruct others in righteousness (see 1 Timothy 3:16 quoted above). Our counsel has both a corrective purpose and a training process. Admonition by itself can create serious relational problems. It is when we take the time to gently train others in the way of righteousness that we complete the God-ordained cycle.
Here are some practical suggestions as to how we should counsel one another (though this is not to be construed as a complete list):
• Make sure that our own lives are exemplary. Not perfect! No one is! But our overall lives should be such that the people whom we are counseling have respect for us. Christ is clear (Matthew 7) that we should first clean up our own lives before we correct someone else.
• Always pray before approaching another person and when possible, pray with that person. Remember that God is the one who changes people.
• If there is a sin involved, we need to know clearly what the Bible has to say about it. We must make certain that it is a sin, not something that we must learn to forbear.
• If a fellow member is discouraged we need to find out the basis of that discouragement and talk with that person about the provisions and promises which our Lord has given to us in His Word.
• Often we will deal with people who have lost hope. Those people must be helped to see that through the power of the Spirit of God their lives and their outlook can be changed.
• We must encourage those whom we counsel to be in the Scriptures frequently. Leave with them directions to those specific portions of the Word of God which address their situations.
• We need to encourage those whom we counsel to regularly spend time in fellowship with and in service to a caring, local church.
• Enlist the help of others who will also come alongside them and who will befriend, counsel and encourage them.
• When there are matters to which they need to attend, check up on them to make sure that they are doing their part. If they have sinned against someone, direct them to seek that person out and ask for forgiveness. If they are spiritually lazy, remind them of their obligations as believers. Get involved with them, showing not only by words, but also by example how one serves the Lord. If they are depressed or discouraged, spend time with them; do not allow them to sit alone at home enumerating their problems. Talk to them about their responsibilities, but also help them to see their unnoticed blessings.
• Always be truthful with them and urge them to be the same with you. Unless you know the real problems with which you are dealing, you are stumbling in the darkness as you try to help them.
• Encourage them to take steps toward progress—not perfection. Notice their progress and encourage them that they are making progress. It is sometimes difficult for people with problems to take giant strides. Remember and remind them, that many small steps ultimately measure up to real changes.
Pastor Timothy J. Atkins
Husband, Father, Grandfather, Pastor, Teacher, Discipler, and Follower of Jesus.