C. Treating the problem(s)
INTRODUCTION: This part of our study it is so crucial that before moving into details I feel it is necessary to make some preliminary remarks – four to be specific:
- One of the marks of the true shepherd who is a gift of Christ and his Church is that he will fit the description of Jeremiah 3:15. He will be willing to administer comfort and encouragement where appropriate. When he can do this with a good conscience it is always a source of joy to the heart of a true shepherd. However, there are times when he must do what is said in 1Thessalonians 5:12 and 2 Timothy 4:2. Faithfulness to the full scope of our God-appointed responsibility must always be our goal.
- Some of the degrading marks of false shepherds and false prophets are to be found in such passages as Jeremiah 6:13-14 and Ezekiel 13:22. We must constantly be on our guard and very prayerful lest in any way the language of these two texts could legitimately be descriptive of us.
- These realities make it absolutely necessary that we seek the disposition and patterns of ministry which marked the great apostle Paul as described in Colossians 1:28-29. This is the man who would do what is recorded in Galatians 2:11 and then 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8, 11.
- Therefore, as a vital part of our preparation for every session in pastoral counseling we must not only pray for wisdom, understanding, compassion and empathy, but we must also plead for moral courage and deliverance from the fear of men’s faces. We should pray into our hearts in a fresh way Proverbs 27:6 and 28:23.
1. General directives
a. Don’t give counsel without previous studied consideration.
b. Constantly remind yourself of your limitations.
1 Kgs. 8:39b
c. Address issues from the simple and more obvious to the complex and more subtle.
d. Seek to isolate, eliminate, and defuse complicating emotional or physical problems before dealing with more directly spiritual problems.
Remember 1 Kings 19
e. Always seek to suit the remedial counsel to the presently discovered need.
f. Sometimes the bulk of your counsel will be:
(1) ADVICE concerning a course of action to be taken.
(2) COMFORT in the midst of present grief.
1 Thes. 4:18
(3) REBUKE or ADMONITION in the face of sin and error discovered.
Prov. 15:5, 10, 31, 32
2. Directives for solutions rooted in special revelation.
a. Look for biblical statements regarding the behavior or problem which thorough diagnosis has uncovered.
b. Seek to find and use biblical illustrations for the sinful behavior pattern and examples of resolution and contrasting graces.
2 Sam. 12
1 Cor. 10:1-11
3. Directives for treatment rooted in general revelation.
a. Do not prematurely assume that all problems are exclusively or primarily spiritual in nature.
- There are some of us who have some serious reservations concerning what I would call “the purist approach” in nouthetic counseling
- There are two books which I have found very helpful in seeking to keep this principle in mind. They are:
Christians Get Depressed Too, by Dr. David Murray
Broken Minds, by Steve and Robyn Bloem
- Remember Brooks vol. 3 p. 296-297.
b. Do not attempt to assume the role of a competent physician.
c. Learn some practical home remedies for common maladies. See 1 Tim. 5:22
4. Directives for treatment of ingrained patterns of sinful or undesirable behavior.
a. The person must accept full responsibility for his behavior patterns.
2 Cor. 5:10
Rom. 7:15, 19, 20
1 Jn. 1:9
b. The person must be resolved to deal with the problem at any cost in a context of biblically based hope.
1 Cor. 9:27
1 Jn. 4:4
c. The person must be motivated by as many biblical motives as possible.
- Love to Christ
- Christ’s love to us
2 Cor. 14-15
- Desire to please Christ
2 Cor. 5:9
- Desire to please the servants of Christ.
- Desire to avoid divine chastening
1 Cor. 11:28-34
- Desire to avoid divine wrath.
- Desire to keep one’s health.
- Desire to keep one’s reputation.
d. The person must be aware of reality with respect to his sin.
e. The sinful pattern must be replaced with the opposite grace.
Col. 3:5, 12
f. Where possible, suggest a concrete or specific course of action in dealing with the problem.
2 Pet. 1:5
See pp. 318-319 of The Christian Counselor’s Manual.
g. Encourage the person to seek the help of others in the body of Christ.
1 Thes. 5:14
1 Thes. 4:18
Summary and conclusion: