Didn't Learn This in Seminary...

I'm going to do a series of posts here in the near term about things they never taught me in seminary. But it's on my mind today because I've got a counseling situation this afternoon that I'm really not looking forward to.

Counseling is the bane of my existence, mostly because I'm not a very good counselor. I heard Andy Stanley say one time that he's not a counselor - he's a consultant, and hearing him say that made me want to jump out of my chair and give him a hug because someone finally understood me.

I didn't hug him, but I wanted to.

A consultant goes into a situation, diagnoses the problem, tells people what they need to do to remedy the problem, and leaves them to implement his suggestions. A counselor gets down and dirty to try to work with a person (or couple) as they implement suggestions bit by bit. That frustrates the fool out of me. I'm way too ADD to deal with the same problem over and over when the solution is so clear.

But with that said, some counseling is a necessity in pastoral ministry, so I grit my teeth and try to bear it.

One of the things that makes counseling situations so difficult is the phone call that precedes them.

"Chris, I need to talk to someone about something. Are you free on Thursday?"

"Sure, I'd love to get together. How about Thursday afternoon?"

"Okay. Three o'clock okay?"

"That sounds great."

"Okay. See you then."

Not even a hint of what we're getting ready to talk about. Sometimes I can guess, but sometimes I miss like crazy. There are times when I've prepared myself to deal with relationship issues, only to find out the person wants to talk about how they can get plugged-in to ministry. Other times, I've prepared for a discussion about a ministry leadership challenge to have someone come out of the proverbial "closet."

They don't teach you how to do that in seminary. I guess it's part of what makes ministry exciting. It's definitely what causes James 1:5 to be near and dear to my heart.
"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."


elenburg said...

Does your church have a Stephen Ministry? If so, you can be a consultant and just refer people to these well trained Christian care givers. It is a great program.