Based on the scripture, human beings are spiritual beings (need for God), psychological beings (have cognitive needs), social beings (have relationship needs), and physical beings (with bodily needs). Due to these needs, it is important to follow a holistic approach during the delivery of care. If any group is at an added and unique advantage to follow a holistic approach, it is Christian counselors as they follow the spiritual dimension. The significance of counselors is biblically presented in Proverbs 11:14 “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” This indicates that from the beginning, God understood the need for counselors. The verse is an indication that when the human mind is distorted, they can seek counsel, which provides Christian counselors with a mandate to guide humans during hardships and when fighting their sinful nature. Therefore, Christian counseling is a mission as the counselors integrate spirituality and care delivery.
A counselor can provide counseling to Christians in different ways. Several verses in the Bible record different ways through which God used people to help others with different issues. The Holy Spirit is a guardian (comforter) applied by Christians to understand the scripture and guide them to have faith in Jesus Christ. Christian counselors have a vital role to play to assist Christians to deal with their hardships by applying Christian’s value and the aspect of grace to increase their faith in God. This role is similar to the missionaries’ role of teaching the population about Jesus Christ, His commandments, and His promises.
Christian counselors according to Jones (2006), are “representatives of God. They must communicate the healing message in the therapeutic encounter and look for his guiding hand in every counseling situation (p. 64). Besides the role of counselors can be derived from Luke 4:18-19, which states, “18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord”. This passage alone illustrates the need for a Christian counselor to help Christians to regain hope and believe in Jesus Christ. They attain this by helping other people to apply the conviction of the Holy Spirit (the comforter), to heal the brokenhearted, set liberty to the mentally broken, give the poor hope, and help people during grief.
Unlike other counselors, Christian counselors require to look after the needy and the poor. This mandate is portrayed Biblically by Paul in Gal 2:10. The Christian counselors do not only treat the mental aspect of an individual, but they act as the missionaries who not only carried the evangelism work but were involved in medical and educational activities. Jones (2009) explains that missionaries offer basic services and relief to individuals and communities. While helping the needy, Christian counselors, however, apply their prime role, which is to apply every opportunity to share the Gospel by teaching the counselee about religion.
Christian counselors apply both psychological and spirituality in the healing process of a patient. As noted earlier, missionaries were involved in hospital activities where they were actively involved in the delivery of care. Prayer is a critical element in the patients’ journey and should be incorporated into the holistic model of health. This role is presented in the book of James 5:14-15, “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.” This indicates that Christian counselors are missionaries involved in the healing activity to pray with and intercede for the sick.
Another role of counselors as a mission is community building (Rotberg, 2015). According to Staley (2014), counselors apply their education and intellectual skills to assist the needy in different areas of life. For example, they may engage in different community projects that are beneficial for needy people. As a Christian counselor, the aspect of help varies and ranges from different roles in their paradigm. For example, a pastor enrolling for a counseling course may stretch their skills in community projects. The counselor may participate in building safe housing or establish a safe drinking water source for needy communities.
According to Jones (2009), Christianity is encompassed by universal priesthood where each believer is required to minister others to drive maturity in Christianity through Jesus Christ as explained in 1 Peter 2:5,9. One of the counseling models provides that, Christian counselors have a satisfying and exciting advantage where they apply the aspect of the Holy Spirit to transform lives through the gospel (Rotberg, 2015). The model also provides that Christian counselors offer love and hope. Besides, rather than following a problem-oriented model they follow a solution-oriented. However, critics argue that Christian counselors change the way people feel while others argue that Christian counselors tend to eliminate symptoms.
To drive the changes in the community through the mission, Christian counselors work towards bringing people closer to God. They counsel the counselee to help them create a solution by changing their belief through the increment of faith. As a form of mission, the role of counselors is to provide hope and initiate change, as the counselors are a representation of God. According to Fraser (2015), the short-term role of a Christian counselor is to change the present while the long-term role is to help individuals transit into maturity in Christ.
Besides, mission in Christianity counseling is viewed from Kirwan’s (1984:147-148) Christian model, which applies the principle of imparting a sense of belonging. Kirwan model applies three phases: imparting a sense of belonging, edification, and services that are interconnected to one another. Fraser (2015) argues that the Kirwan model is similar to the approach of God towards the fall of the first man in Eden where God called Adam by asking ‘where are you’. As in mission, counselors should start a counseling session from ‘where are you?’ instead of ‘there you are’ form of approach, which increases the understanding of the problem.
Another model that explains the aspect of mission in counseling is theophostic approach of Smith (2000:5), which aims at connecting people with the place they can receive freedom through Jesus Christ. Besides, they provide individualized care based on the circumstance including the need of a client and their willingness to accept Christianity elements. In Christian counseling, counselors train on the need and the advantage of forgiveness, which is similar in missions where every Christian emphasizes the significance of forgiveness where every Christian requires forgiveness to drive healing, which is attained by forgiving self and others, as well as seeking forgiveness from God.
From the study, Christian counseling is intrinsically a form of mission where Christian counselors assist counselee through psychological and spirituality aspect in the healing process. The Christian counselors work towards bringing counselee closer to God through the increment of faith in the field. They apply the aspect of spirituality in community building by combining therapy with spirituality. The aspect of mission in counseling is analyzed through the theophostic approach and Kirwan’s Christian Model which illustrate the significant role of Christian’s counselors.
Fraser, J. C. (2015). Developments in Biblical counseling. Reformation Heritage Books.
Jones, I. (2006). Foundations for Biblical Christian Counseling: The Counsel of Heaven on Earth. Nashville, Tennessee: B & H Publishing Group.
Jones, I. (2009). Biblical Counseling in the Historical Church. Paper presented at the American Association of Christian Counsellors World Conference. Nashville, Tennessee: B & H Publishing Group.
Kirwan, W. (1984). Biblical Concepts for Christian Counseling. A Case for Integrating Psychology and Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House.
Rotberg, R. I. (2015). Christian missionaries and the creation of Northern Rhodesia 1880-1924. Princeton University Press.
Smith, E. (2000). Beyond Tolerable Recovery (4th ed.). Campbellville, Kentucky: Family Care Publishing.Stanley, B. (2014). Christian missions and the Enlightenment. Routledge.
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