This post is for Church Leaders: Today’s pastors are expected to be a jack of many trades. One particular job that has been laid at their feet is not only dangerous, but destructive. It is the expectation to be a free version of a professional counselor. People want to meet with the pastor and muse over all the emotional baggage of their life under the pretense of looking for answers. Many times, these encounters have to be repeated every few months in order to provide a ‘release’ for those craving an audience for venting their frustrations, and to keep them afloat.
It must stop! For the spiritual health of the leaders and their need to spend time with God in prayer and the study of Scripture, it must stop! Pastors must be bold enough to make a couple of things clear to their congregations and those ‘needy visitors’ who, under the pretense of possible membership, will suck the life and time out of your week. Here are a couple of potential helps.
Pre-Counseling Requirements for Members:
1. Attend regular services. (When the doors open, be there!)
2. Respond to what is taught.
3. Repent for any thing preached which fits your life. (Not discussion about it, but repentance.)
4. Take the necessary paths to restore relationships with those you’ve offended–NOW!
5. Commit to daily prayer and study–and keep notes for both!
6. Get actively involved ‘using’ your talents in the local church.
7. Read whatever materials the Pastor requests for your situation and be ready to discuss it.
8. After demonstrating faithfulness to all of this, the Pastor will meet with you for counseling.
Pre-Counseling Requirement For Visitors:
1. Come to church services and respond in repentance and obedience to everything you hear preached. (If they are not faithful here, it is a waste of time to meet for counsel.)
2. Read whatever materials the Pastor requests for your situation and be ready to discuss it.
3. After 3-6 months, the Pastor will meet with you to discuss four things: your salvation, your need for membership, and counseling
I know there are emergency times for counseling that fall into our lap. However, most are not emergencies, and Satan tricks pastors to offer a couch for counseling instead of the Cross for transformation. We have believers, members and non-members, who are looking for a ‘quick-fix’ to their problems. The answer is faith, repentance and learning to walk in the Spirit through identification with Christ Crucified.
Pastors must refuse to be a sounding board for issues which need to be taken to the cross. We are not men of the couch…but men of the Cross! If we are going to be successful in helping the sheep, we must point them to Calvary and provide steps to ensure they are headed toward it.
90% counseling situations will be handled if people will simply respond in faith to the messages shared by the Pastor. At times, I have failed to hold to the above and regret the hundreds of hours that I wasted with flighty and carnal people who were looking for sympathy, but not death to self. The above requirements will save leaders from wasting countless hours with people who are simply looking for another ‘psychological port’ in search of answers.
Jesus is the answer…the Gospel is the answer. Let us stop being a couch to people…and call them to the Cross!