A season of specialized shepherdingPs. 23:1–3; Ezek. 34:4–6; Acts 20:28; 1 Thess. 5:12. in which one leads a troubled believerPs. 94:18,19; Ezek. 34:4; Gal. 6:1; Heb. 4:16; Ps. 42:11; 77:2; Job 2:11; 42:11. to apply the antidotes from the medicine chest of Scripture2 Tim. 2:15; Isa. 28:25; 2 Pet. 1:3; Matt. 4:4; Isa. 8:20; 2 Tim. 3:16. to particular maladies of soul1 Thess. 5:14; Ps. 42:11; 94:18,19; Job 6:4; Isa. 50:10. according to God’s specific purposes for that personMic. 6:9; Job 33:14,15,19,29; Ezek. 14:4. — restoringGal. 6:1., revivingIsa. 57:15., strengtheningEzek. 34:4; Dan. 10:16–19; Job 4:3,4., comfortingIsa. 57:18; Job 2:11; 16:5., directingIsa. 30:21., correcting2 Tim. 3:16., binding upEzek. 34:4; Hos. 6:1., curingIsa. 57:19., etc., — whatever is needed for the soul’s next steps in growth in grace2 Pet. 3:18..
1. Is Pastoral
As pastoral care is the responsibility of local church leaders, counseling is the manifestation of such care. Thereby the position of a pastor assumes counseling. Also a pastor should do some teaching activities, such as preparation of counselors. Biblical counseling neither substitutes nor removes the pastor-elder position established by God. Since counseling is the privilege of the church, the role of a biblical counselor is to support the elders of the church in their service of pastoral counseling and facilitate it in every possible way (Col. 1:28,29; 1 Thess. 5:12; Eph. 4:11,12,16; Col. 3:16; Rom. 15:14; Neh. 8:8; Acts 20:20,31).
2. Serves with Scripture
The Bible as the authoritative and sufficient revelation of God about Himself gives to the church the true interpretation of mankind’s problems and points to the proper ways of solving them. Medicine and psychology, as the manifestation of general grace, must be used only as supplementary tools allowed by Scripture, without substituting it. In order to understand a person’s trials and sorrows and to give him/her advice, only the terms, categories and concepts that are clearly taught in the Bible should be used. That is what it means to respect the Bible’s claim about its sufficiency (2 Tim. 3:16,17; 2 Pet. 1:3,4; Matt. 4:4; Isa. 8:20; Neh. 8:8; Jas. 5:14; 2 Chr. 16:12).
3. Demands Continuous Exegetics
The Bible does not pretend to be an Encyclopedia containing all possible facts about people, their problems, and solutions. Scripture calls us to constantly study and meditate upon what is written for the counselor and for the one being counseled regardining life problems. Scripture provides healthy and various ways of solving specific problems that can appear in the life of God’s child. Counseling is the fruit of thoughtful and conscientious exegesis, which must be based on sound interpretation principles and on the application of firm systematic theology to specific problems in the private and public life of one being counseled (2 Tim. 2:15; Neh. 8:8; Jer. 8:8; 2 Tim. 3:16,17; 2 Pet. 1:3,4; Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:6,11).
4. Attends Almost Solely to the Heart that is the Concentration of the Biggest Problems
Biblical counseling is first of all about caring for the heart. Scripture appeals to a person’s heart, and that is why biblical counseling works exactly with it. Even the biggest external changes without internal growth in grace prove to be just a refined hypocrisy and manifestation of hollow godliness, which provoke God into wrath. The smallest step to repentance and faith, even if accompanied by weaknesses and failures and unnoticed by men, is very significant in God’s eyes. A person is only doing what his/her heart desires. Therefore those, who practice biblical counseling, should first of all work having an understanding of the heart (Prov. 4:23; Jer. 17:9,10; Matt. 23:25–28; Luke 6:43–45; Ezek. 14:1–6; 1 Pet. 2:11; 1 Tim. 1:5).
5. Is Daily, not Clinical
The position of a pastor assumes counseling, which, just like the personal service to each other, is the duty of every child of God. Every believer whenever possible should care about others’ soles. Both planned and spontaneous discussions on how to apply Scripture to specific challenges, held either by the pastor or by church members, should be customary experience in any maturing local church. Leaders must shepherd the church in a Biblical manner, encourage and support those church members who are involved in counseling. Professional counseling that is separated from the church and that considers the church and the Bible as insufficient for solving human’s problems undermines the authority of Scripture and is extraneous to it (Col. 1:28,29; Acts 20:20,31; Col. 3:16; Gal. 6:10; Eph. 4:11,12,15,16; 1 Pet. 4:10; 1 Cor. 14:26; 1 Tim. 5:17; Heb. 13:17).
6. Based on the Good News
Biblical counseling offers something that no other system can offer. Christ, the Wonderful Counselor, urges people to reject incompetent, unfaithful and useless systems based on the human philosophy, and to turn to His approach that produces deep changes in the lives of people. Those who hold the opposite point of view should be dealt with in patience, gentleness and Christian kindness. In his attempts to conquer those who think differently a biblical counselor should show the surpassing richness of the truth with humility and grace, which reflect the character of Christ and are pleasing to the Father of all compassion. Erroneous teachings must be clearly exposed, and yet the main focus should be on manifesting accurate biblical teaching. A biblical counselor should invite to the dialogue and teach with patience instead of arguing (Isa. 8:20; Col. 4:6; 2 Tim. 2:24,25; 1 Tim. 1:10,11; Eph. 4:2,3,14,15).
7. Applies Scripture Very Carefully
When applying the revealed wisdom of God, biblical counseling seeks to give encouragement, comfort, motivation and direction to the person in his/her specific circumstances. But the Word of Truth must be applied properly. Not every Christian renders biblically acceptable assistance, even when doing so with good intentions and with desire to help. Someone who is experienced in a Christian ministry and even has a degree in theology does not necessarily practice biblical counseling. The fact that the counselor quotes certain verses from the Bible, and gives direction and comfort based on these passages, does not yet make his counseling biblical. At the same time a person without specialized theological education and without many years of experience may be a biblical counselor. The biblical counseling takes place when a person is constantly trying to think and to act based on the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. When a counselor looks at a person, his/her problem and the solution process through the prism of Scripture, and then attempts to apply the means given in the Bible at the right time and in proper amounts — again all according to Scriptural teaching — then one can say that he is practicing biblical counseling (1 Tim. 2:15; Jer. 8:8,11; Matt. 4:6,7; 2 Tim. 3:16,17).