or a better spouse, or a better leader, or a better parent can be boiled down to one two words:
Every person has a story to tell or a problem they want to talk through or else they just want to know someone is there for them. Did you know the easiest way to do this is to usually say nothing and just listen?
In the Bible, how many times do you read this:
“As Peter was talking about his problems, Jesus interrupted Him constantly and kept telling Him that His problems weren’t as bad as he thought they were.”
Of course you have never read that sentence because it is not in the Bible. Jesus knew, and teaches us by example, that they wise person speaks less and listens more. When you speak you can learn very little. When you listen, you can learn a lot. And in order to help others and be there for them, you must listen to them intently, and without interrupting them or minimizing their problems.
Yes someone else’s problems may not seem all that bad to you and you could tell them about a million other things that are much worse than what they are going through, but that is not the help they are looking for.
When I first started counseling, all I wanted to do was tell people how to fix their problems. Then as I counseled more and more people, I learned the true magic of counseling: great Christian counseling is not about the processes, but instead it is about the relationships you build with those who are in need. It is the same with our spouses, our children, and those whom we teach and lead. And the best relationships are the ones where we know the other person is truly listening to us.
Many secular counselors say, “people already know how to fix their own problems, you just need to keep talking to them until they stumble upon the answer.” Man, do I truly dislike that attitude because it assumes that everyone could immediately fix their own problems, they are just choosing not to.
That is exactly why I choose Christian Counseling instead of secular counseling. Here is a secret I will give you absolutely for free as long as you promise to tell everyone you know:
Secular counseling was designed to keep you coming back.
Christian counseling understands that we must first get our relationships with God in order and then our other problems will be much easier to tackle.
We we are in step with God, talking with Him daily and listening to Him more than we talk; when we put others wants and needs before our own, especially our families; when we feel true remorse when we sin and confess it to God, it is absolutely amazing how our relationships with others just seem to take care of themselves.
We always run into trouble relationship-wise when we put ourselves before others and before God and we put too much focus on our problems and not enough focus on God.
Now that you know how Christian Counseling works, you can see that its focus is to re-align people with Jesus first and then work on the relationship issues with others. This is a model that always achieves results because God works in it to ensure it gets results.
The one thing to watch out for when seeking Christian counseling is to know that all to often, your pastors at your local church have usually spent years just trained to be pastors only, not counselors. Having trained in both I can tell you there is a world of difference.
Pastors train to know the Bible inside and out and know how to apply its wisdom to our lives. Christian Counselors understand that sometimes people get out of alignment in their walk with God and “praying more” or “having more faith” is not the answer. So often times, you pastor will think they are counseling you with platitudes like “if you had more faith your relational issues would go away”, but in truth this is of little practical help to you.
Please understand that the role of Pastor is never to be belittled or taken lightly. This is simply a matter of specialization. After all, would you to a foot doctor if your arm was hurting? That certainly doesn’t make sense. Pastors help us to interpret God’s Word in a way that is useful to our lives and how we live them. Christian Counselors work with us to align our lives and our focus back on the right things in life so we can resume the kinds of relationships God wants us to have with Him and with others.
And this all starts with listening more to those who need us to listen to them. You do not need a license to listen to someone who is hurting or is suffering.
Why not try sitting down with a family member tonight and putting your electronic devices away and just saying, “What’s on your mind?”
After they pick themselves up off the floor from shock, I guarantee you will be fascinated by what you learn from them when you genuinely reach out to them and show them you are there just to listen to them.
Pastor Brad Komgenick