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Welcome to a practical pastoral counseling site of Dr. Harold L. White

 Every pastor can be a valued and competent counselor.

Characteristics of a Wise Counselor

A wise pastor counselor is one who:
(1) Is in pursuit of God.
(2) Knows God's Word in a living way.
(3) Knows the importance of prayer.
(4) Values fellowship with godly people.
(5) Shares the Word of God.
These characteristics are especially important for those who seek to counsel or advise others.

Pursuit of God.
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." (Proverbs 9:10)
The wise person hungers for knowledge of Christ as did the apostle Paul.
In Philippians 3:8 Paul said: "
What is more, I consider everything a loss compared
to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord

God honors those who are in pursuit of Him.
2 Chronicles 16:9: "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen
those whose hearts are fully committed to him

Knowing God's Word in a living way.
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training
in righteousness, so that the man of God may be fairly equipped for every good work
(2 Timothy 3:16)
The Word of God not only instructs us, corrects us, and reproves us, but nourishes us as well.
In an age of spiritual and mental confusion, it is vital that a person's belief be evaluated
against the Word of God.
Any concept that does not agree the with Scripture should be rejected.

To be protected from confusion a Christian should memorize the Word of God.
It will be like a shield and becomes part of the unconscious and will be there for years to come.
Knowing God's Word in a living way can be a significant determinant of behavior.
Those whose minds are saturated with the Word of God which will guide their behavior.
Wise Christians trying to live the Word of God must often evaluate themselves.
God's Word helps us judge our innermost thoughts.

Prayer makes God's Word a reality, and enables wise Christians to share its application
with those home we counsel.
Important insights are gained through prayer.
All human methods are secondary to God's power through prayer.
Prayer in his communion with God, and made possible by our relationship with God through Christ.

Fellowship with godly people.
"He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm."
(Proverbs 13:20)
Those who associate with godly individuals will benefit from that fellowship.
From godly people we learn to listen and are exposed to the grace of God in their lives.
Counselors can learn wisdom from the godly and gain encouragement and confidence.

Witnessing for Christ.
Wise Christians sow the Word of God and testify of Christ to others in both their actions
and their words.
God blesses His Word: "So is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return
to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it
(Isaiah 55:11)
We know from Matthew 28:19-20 that we are to be witnesses to others of the gospel
of Jesus Christ.

Essential qualities of a pastor counselor.

Certain qualities are vital for Christian counselors.
Some can be learned but others are gifts from the Lord.

Must have an accepting attitude.
For people seeking advice, an attitude of unconditional acceptance by the counselor is essential.
An effective counselor understands that problems are normal, and are among the major means
God uses to conform us to His image.
People grow when they are accepted unconditionally.

Good listening skills.
Effective counselors listen with interest, showing warmth in their expression and manner.
Without interrupting, they allow their councilees to finish sharing what they perceive their problems
to be, before helping them to gain insight.

Knowledge of proper technique.
Effective counselors know the proper approach and the appropriate time to use it.
At times, a probing question will be received when a direct statement would be rejected.
At other times it is important to be direct and confronting.

Appropriate use of Scripture and prayer.
The godly counselor knows the proper time and technique for using Scripture.
After rapport is established, it can be extremely beneficial to point to Scripture that is
appropriate to a paticular problem.
Councilees often benefit from meditation on the Word and from prayer at an appropriate time.

Personal approach.
Most people who need psychological help have been unable to fulfill two basic needs in life:
love and self-worth.
A warm, personal, caring counselor can help supply these needs.
Individuals who sense that a counselor is personally interested in them and their problems
are able to be more open and honest.

Unshockable response. 
Effective counselors are not shocked by anything people tell them.
Councilees must feel free to share their problems and guilt.
If a counselor were shocked by such confessions, people would be afraid to share intimately
and thus be prevented from dealing with their problems.

Christ was not shocked by what people said because "… He knew what was in a man."
(John 2:25)
When responding to the Samaritan home and at the well, Jesus was not shocked
about her past but dealt with her in a straightforward and effective manner. 
(John 4)

Effective counselors have confidence in Christ, and their ability through Christ,
and in what Christ can accomplish in someone else.
Counselors should offer people realistic hope that they can be helped.
" So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God,you will receive what he has promised
(Hebrews 10:35-36)

Sense of humor.
Because counselors deal with many serious problems on a daily basis, a sense of humor is
necessary for their personal release.
An effective counselor often encourages a sense of humor in others.
Obsessive-compulsive individuals can be helped by learning to laugh at their perfectionistic attempts.

Some Biblical Examples Of Good Counseling

One way to learn to be a good counselor is to study examples found in Scripture.
The wise King,, Solomon was an effective counselor.
The Book of Proverbs, with which Solomon is intimately involved, contains many of God's thoughts
on counseling.
Its wealth of wisdom for Christian counselors contains such topics as the cultivation
of wisdom and rules for child development and mental health.
Solomon's therapeutic approach was directive because his counsel agreed with the counsel of God.

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul is an example of a wise counselor.
You can see in his writings to early Christians some of the ideas later developed by Sigmund Freud.

Freud's, "id," roughly corresponds to what Christians call the "old nature."
Freud's, "superego," corresponds roughly to the conscience.
The "ego" corresponds to the will.

In one passage Paul wrote "… May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless…"
(1 Thessalonians 5:23)

He referd to the body, soul (mind, emotions, and will), spirit, flesh, as a good,
but weak law of the mind, an evil law of the members, a supreme law of the Spirit,
an eternal deadening law, and how all those factors interrelate.
Paul counseled others wisely through his writings.

Of course, Jesus Christ was the Counselor of all counselors.
We can all learn from Him, because He had perfect insight into human problems
and was able to share that insight with others.
He was an expert at asking questions, using them to teach, to rebuke irresponsible behavior,
and to help others gain insight.
He genuinely cared for others, giving them a feeling of self-worth.
Because of His warm and personal concern for them, people were able to deal
with their problems and not feel threatened.
He could be matter-of-fact, rebuking, or friendly, or whatever was appropriate.

Jesus could counsel others because of His close relationship with God the Father
and because He understood human problems.
He not only knew what people needed to do in order to deal with their problems,
but He also knew how to motivate people to change.
Often He would lay down guidelines or formulate a plan to help individuals deal with their problems.

Christ was a perfect master counselor with perfect balance.
He knew when to be directed and when to be suggestive.
He knew when to deal with the past and when to deal with the present.
He knew the importance of feelings, but He also knew how to effect behavioral changes.

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