“I’m Not Defective, I Don’t Need Counseling”

Though some people might not actually voice this, a lot of people believe that professional counseling is only for people with really big problems. You hear of someone in counseling and you might think,

“Good for them, but I don’t have problems like they do.”

or

“Counseling is great for some people, but not me. There’s nothing wrong with me.”

The truth is, how we view counseling a lot of times sounds a lot like the Pharisee Jesus speaks of in Luke 18 who, while in the temple, looks over a tax collector and offers up a prayer thanking God that he is not like this man, a sinner.

In our minds that can be us.

“God, I thank you that I am not like this man/woman, who has so many problems they need counseling. Thank you that I am not that bad off. Thank you I am not that damaged.”

This is a dangerous thought and an even more dangerous mindset.

To show my cards, I have been in some type of professional counseling setting since I was around 10 years old. My home life wasn’t great but it wasn’t the worst. But how that manifested itself later in life and throughout my childhood wasn’t pretty. Throughout the years, the Lord has drastically rescued me from depression, raging anger, eating disorders, deep-rooted insecurity, severe bitterness, body-image battles, codependency issues, and other emotional/mental/spiritual battles through the grace that is biblical counseling. The Lord has seen fit to grace me with caring, gentle, wise, discerning counselors within his church that have, in a real sense, saved my life.

But the truth is, many of us, due to an incorrect understanding of counseling or maybe even the gospel itself, don’t experience this freedom. Very simply, I want to offer some “counsel” for a more robust, biblical, and healthy understanding of why we need, as the church, an overhaul of our current outlook on counseling, because I believe we need Chip and Joanna Gaines up in here to demo and do a fixer-upper on what we’ve currently built in our view of biblical counseling.

Here are 3 truths.

 

1. We’re All Damaged Goods

There is a lie that we subtly believe that thinks seeing a counselor means something is wrong with you. As a result, we don’t think anything is wrong with us, so we are prideful about not needing counseling. There’s a problem here. Counseling isn’t only for the drug addicts, abused, mentally ill, or emotionally destitute.

Counseling is reserved for one type of person with one type of problem: the sinner struggling with sin.

There’s no way to walk into the next season of life knowing how to navigate it because you haven’t been there yet.

We need to understand in a very real way that we are all damaged and defective. We are all sinners. We are all rebels. Sin works itself out in our lives in a variety of ways that we can’t even number. The truth is, you don’t have to have some horrible trauma to need counseling. Scripture is clear that counseling is for the good, the safety, and the victory of the individual.

Counseling is not about a multitude of traumatic experiences, it’s about one traumatic, cosmic event: the entrance of sin. And that is affecting on a daily basis the entire worldwide population. And until Christ returns, that problem isn’t changing.

For you or me.

 

2. We Don’t Know Everything

We like to know everything. We like the way our phones help us research something in a conversation in a few milliseconds that helps us be more involved and seem more in the know. The problem is, no iPhone will ever have the appropriate amount of guidance or just the right app for you in your battle with sin and confusion in life, no matter what Tim Cook tells you at the Apple Keynote. Proverbs tells us that we are wise to love help and to love guidance and counsel. There is safety when we have people speaking into our lives and helping us along the way. We can’t make it on our own. Humanity has proven that. Over and over again, we need help. And in the environment of counseling, it is a safe, trusting place for us to work through the things we don’t know. The Scripture is clear in its encouragement that there is safety, victory, and wisdom in having counselors in our lives.

Proverbs 9:8 – “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.”

Proverbs 11:14 – “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”

Proverbs 12:1 – “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.”

Proverbs 15:22 – “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.”

Proverbs 18:1-2 – “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his own opinion.”

Counseling help us in our marriage, our job, our view of God, and our daily battle with sin. It’s wisdom we need. Counsel. Help. That’s why the writer of Proverbs says when you correct or offer counsel or instruction, it is the wise man who will love you for that because it is the wise man that knows he needs correction and counsel. It is the fool that isolates himself and tries to do life on his own. We need to know we don’t have all the answers.

None of us.

We come to Christ because he can and has fixed the greatest problem we will ever have.

Sadly, if nothing has happened that has been life-alteringly tragic, we think we’re unaffected. But these situations in our lives affect our worldviews and potential struggles just the same, just in different ways than if something had. Over the years I have had so many dear friends be in counseling for that very reason. They didn’t have an incredibly “rough” childhood. They didn’t have what culture would label as a tragic event. But when they got married marriage was a lot harder than they thought. They were amazed when their spouse wasn’t like them in every way, or their spouse wasn’t like their own family in every way. They didn’t fold the towels the same. They didn’t make the mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving the same. Their family’s house smelled weird. They bought different milk. They didn’t argue the same. They had different parenting styles. There’s no way to walk into the next season of life knowing how to navigate it because you haven’t been there yet.

When we offer our gifts to the church and the church, just the same, invests in us and offers the beautiful gifts of the church right back into our lives, that’s how God desires his community to function. If the church benefits from your gift of service, preaching, teaching, music, etc. why should the church be deprived of someone’s gift of discernment or wisdom? If the church as a whole benefits and needs your gift of preaching or singing, so too should the entire church, not just “people with big problems”, benefit from the wonderful men and women in the body with the gift of counseling and advising.

 

3. We All Need to be Free

Christ came to set captives free. And that’s all of us. There’s a great truth here. We can’t defeat sin on our own. This is the grand nature of the Christian confession: Christ in you, the hope of glory. It is Christ in us that defeats sin. It is Christ that took care of sin for everyone and it’s his blood that covers anyone that would come and confess their need for help. That’s the theological truth of counseling. We come because we need help on our road of sanctification in this Christian journey. Christ is our high counselor who we come to, pleading to take away our sin and our shame and our rebellion. We come to him for help. We come to him for rescue. We come to him for saving. We come to him because he can and has fixed our greatest problem.

It is through Christ that the damaged, defective, problem-laden sinner finds healing and restoration and fixing.

Counseling is for one type of person with one type of problem: a sinner struggling with sin.

And if you need Christ’s help to defeat sin, it’s a safe bet you will need Christ working in others to help you on your road of dealing with sin in your life. And that’s everyone. We all need to work out the difficulty of life and the nature of our sinful behavior. Sometimes this is marriage. Sometimes this is parenting. Sometimes this is joy. Sadness. Insecurity. Addiction. Idolatry. Eating disorders. Body image.

Be encouraged: We don’t need all the answers to life’s problems.

But the great news is that we have been offered the Greatest Answer in Christ that solves our greatest problem. And we are all in need of that. And that freedom will liberate the bondage keeping us held in slavery in other areas.

We all are in need of a Counselor. His name is Christ.

Allow him to walk with you through the healing and freedom that He promises, even if that comes through counselors he has placed here, and now, to serve the church until the Groom comes back for her.

 

Jonathan C. Edwards (@NotThePuritan)

Jonathan (M.Div, Th.M) is the Director of Curriculum for Docent Research Group. He is the author of "Left: The Struggle to Make Sense of Life When a Parent Leaves," available now!

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