Christian Counseling: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
“You can give up all hope of ever having a better past.”
Wow! Those twelve words ushered forth from the mouth of a godly Christian counselor. Unless you are committed to holding onto your past failures, such advice can set you free to embrace God’s best.
Unfortunately, many “Christian counselors” these days appear woefully lacking on the “Christian” side of the “Christian counselor” ledger.
A friend of mine who was a seminary president, once lamented to me that our seminaries are producing students who are trained as counselors but are seriously deficient in their knowledge of God’s Word. That’s a train wreck getting ready to happen. I would never seek the advice of a “Christian counselor” who wasn’t skilled both as a professional and as a student of God’s Word.
I often say,
“Unlike the federal government you can’t give away what you don’t own.”
This applies to Christian counselors. If a Christian counselor is not a student of God’s Word, they WILL lead people astray. If they are not in God’s Word daily, then where are they drawing their wisdom from? If they are not praying about each person who walks through their door, how do they know they speak words of life rather than words of death. Great counseling skills are simply not enough.
During my college years I remember chatting with a highly respected Christian psychologist. What he verbalized that day shocked me:
“Ten percent of Christian counselors do more good than harm. Forty-five percent do more harm than good. The remaining 45% don’t do any harm, but they don’t really do any good either.”
My experiences over the years have confirmed his statement many times over. Not long ago, a dear friend suffered an almost unfathomable tragedy. He called to ask if I could recommend any Christians counselors. I could not, but I got on the phone and finally tracked down two that came with rock solid recommendations from people I trusted. The great news is I found two. The sad news is, I only found two.
As a writer, public speaker and podcaster, my greatest fear is unintentionally contradicting Scripture because of my own lack of knowledge, or lack of relying on the Holy Spirit, thereby leading many astray. I palpably fear that. I wish that all Christian counselors shared my fear. The people who come to them trust them, so they wield tremendous power to heal or destroy. Often, I have seen “Christian counselors” ruin people’s lives.
However, there are programs out there which work hard to equip counseling students both in God’s Word and as counselors. One of those programs is at Columbia International University in Columbia, South Carolina. Recently, I interviewed one of their faculty, Dr. Seth Scott. It quickly became apparent that here was a professional counselor with the heart and knowledge of a pastor.
We have a mental health crisis in our country. There are many reasons for the epidemic, but the solution requires an “all hands-on deck” attitude within the body of Christ. I have been in full time ministry for over 30 years. Never has the need been greater for well-trained, God-focused counselors.
If God is placing it upon your heart to pursue a degree in counseling, I strongly encourage you to find a program that is as committed to teaching you God’s Word as they are to teaching you counseling skills. Remember, unlike the federal government, you can’t give away what you don’t own.
By Brad Bright
Copyright © 2023 Brad Bright. All rights reserved.