In conferences around the world, I asked: How many would be willing to share all the dirt in their lives, just for the purpose of sharing it? Nobody raises their hand. What is to be gained in doing that? Then I asked: How many would be willing to share all the dirt in their lives in order to gain some explanation as to why they are all screwed up? I get the same response all over the world. Most don’t raise their hands, some raise them half way, and a few will raise their hands indicating that they are willing to do that.
That is as far as secular counseling can take anyone. The theory is not hard to understand. The counselor develops skills like congruence, concreteness, empathy, etc. Those are just pastoral skills and there is nothing wrong with that. The goal is establish a trusting relationship so the counselee will tell their story. Suppose you are the best of the best. Through a caring relationship you are able to help people share in intimate detail all the sordid details of their lives. With that information you are able to explain why they are feeling and acting the way they are. What does that accomplish? The most complete and accurate analysis doesn’t resolve anything. It may help us understand one another, but it still leaves people as products of their past. The secularist can help them learn from the past and give them coping skills. They can’t do any more than that, because they have no gospel. God doesn’t fix our past. He sets us free from it. We are not just products of our past, we are new creations in Christ.
Then I asked a third question: How many people would be willing to share all their problems in order to resolve them? Everyone raises their hands. Trained encouragers will listen intently to inquirers share their stories, and then ask, Would you like to resolve that? Nobody ever says no. Encouragers respond by saying, Then with your permission I would like to lead you through these Steps to Freedom in Christ. Inquirers give very little detail when sharing their story. The necessary details emerge when they go through the Steps, but they are not sharing to gain explanation. They are sharing to gain resolution. We commonly hear, I have never shared this with anyone ever before. Such vulnerability has very little to do with us, because God is granting them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth that sets them free (2 Tim. 2:25). The conviction of God leads to genuine repentance without regret (see 2 Cor. 7:10). What an incredible ministry. We have the privilege to help people get in touch with the ugliest and most painful aspects of their lives and they can’t stop thanking us afterwards.
For Spanish, see http://www.ficmm.org/blog