A note for pastors – on preparation for counseling

I dare say most pastors give time to preparation for preaching. Generally speaking, an unprepared sermon will probably be rather shallow. There may be exceptions to that, but wise stewardship of pastoral ministry involves preparing to preach.

But what about pastoral counseling? How should a pastor prepare for that? Here are a few pointers, shared from his own experience by David Powlison, one of the key figures in the biblical counseling movement: taken from his excellent book, Speaking Truth in Love.

  1. Follow through on your commitments. Did you say you would make a phone call, seek advice from another counselor, etc?
  2. Check out your own attitudes and life.
  3. Read and study the Bible.
  4. Think hard about those with whom you will meet.
  5. Pray for each person, asking God to work. (And pray for yourself).
  6. Set a rough agenda for the meeting.
  7. Review basic principles of counseling to orient yourself.
  8. Do things that orient you to the ministry task.

There is more detail in one of the chapters in his book: the whole book is worth a read if you would like to understand more about what the biblical counseling movement stands for.

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2 thoughts on “A note for pastors – on preparation for counseling

  1. The first meeting is always very important for me.Generally I always try to esatblish the importance of truth. Secondly to let them know that I am only a facilitator and I dont have a magic wand. I guess I am trying to establish the importance of God’s Word, the leading of the Spirit in my life and theirs. Hopefully they also see that they need to be committed to the process. If its possible I try to show some hope, but it is not always possible if you are coming into a situation cold. A lot of that does not always happen at the first meeting.But hopefully I walk out the door with them having some hope and some idea of wat happens next.
    Probably by the third or so meeting I want to have some idea of the accuracy of the information I have been given regarding their problems. For me the biggest mistake is not communicating to the counselle a clear understanding of their problems and how with God’s help, you plan to help them through their problems. If you have no clear goals you will cause them to loose hope eventually.
    Planning, praying and pouriing yourself out before God on their behalf is vital and is a sign of your committment to them and their needs. Quite frankly people know when we really care.

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