Change may be needed but are you ready to change? How do you you know when a friend is ready to hear and apply the truth of their situation? There is no guarantee that you will know but you must estimate when the counselee is ready to consider a biblical description of the problem and take some action. Then, you present your insight and leave the result with God. Do not fear being wrong when you are using the Bible as a mirror.
Your counselee may have been telling you how angry his wife makes him. He has believed this for years. Now you are telling him that his anger is a work of the sinful nature and a change must take place. What change? A change of heart. He may become furious at you for even suggesting change. You quietly tell him to think about it and see you next week.
I have found that the counselee’s reactions (inner response) to the details causes the suffering. This is true regardless of the details of a life history–family background, interpersonal relations, environmental pressures, successes, failures, rejection, death, or whatever. The counselee is not walking in the Spirit, and as a result he is not thinking straight.
Usually there is a period of resistance. The counselee insists that the suffering is caused externally rather than internally. Kind, firm pressure from the counselor is needed to get acceptance of the internal problem. Once the counselee is firmly established Godward, I find that I am not needed in dealing with external problems.
I have learned that sincere seekers of help may initially resist a glimpse of their sinful selves. But if the glimpse has a ring of truth to it, they will have a second response. When they take another look, they must admit the truth. I have learned to look for that second reaction. Then we can move on.
He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.
Respect the devastating consequences of sin. Covering up your sin, instead of being freed from it, is a road block to making behavior match your heart’s desire.
When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was turned into the drought of summer. I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.
People naturally rehearse their past as an explanation for present lack of peace and joy. They tend to explain their tensions by focusing on what someone else said or did. Or they may focus on some event–an accident, death, dirty trick, bad break, a loss, or a crisis.
People tend to resist when asked to recall problems and reactions they have not mentioned. They can readily recall their own sins but then disregard, dismiss, or deny them. Discussing one’s sins is usually disturbing to the counselee.
“Why did you do it?” is not a helpful question. It only helps the person to think up reasons they have not thought of before. The heart is deceitful. The person can persuade himself that his explanations are valid.
Almost everyone is capable of defining their problems and solving them with God’s help. My first choice is to encourage a person to think of counseling as a last resort. If they can pray and absorb information and want to correct their ways with God’s help, most people will find a way. God working through His Word, His church, audio and video messages, books, and seminars offer all the help most people need.
In other words, help the counselee to Think Scripture!