Ep. 241 What If I’m Not Smart Enough to Do Biblical Counseling?

Ep. 241 What If I'm Not Smart Enough to Do Biblical Counseling

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Show’s Main Idea – One of our students read one of our books in our Mastermind Program, and begin to wonder if he had the necessary IQ to do biblical counseling. The book is heady and requires a high level of reflective thinking to grasp some of the truths communicated. The question he asked is intriguing. What about you? Are you smart enough to disciple someone? Is IQ the best way to think about this issue?

Show Notes

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The answer is not straightforward but requires a person to think about several data pieces to assess themselves honestly. Discipleship is not just for a person with a high IQ. If so, only a few could disciple. Here are some of the ways for you to assess yourself to see what kind of disciple-maker you are, in no particular order of importance. In this podcast, I’m framing the discussion around the idea of counseling or disciple-making. You may use these indicators for any profession, no matter the career choice. They have universal application to any career choice.

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  1. IQ – IQ is a specific way of measuring a person’s intelligence. It’s an intelligence test. Like all the ways to analyze a person’s smarts, IQ testing tilts toward some while not the best way of assessing others. Even if you did well on an IQ test, it does not mean you will improve your cognitive abilities, such as memory retention, attention endurance, and thought speed.
  2. CapacityCapacity is a person’s God-given “cup” that he gets at birth, and his goal is to fill that cup to the rim. Each container is different. Thus, we don’t compare one person to another person (2 Corinthians 10:12). You could have high capacity or a Mensa IQ for a particular discipline but not be as capable in another field because your mind does not think that way.
  3. Grace – God’s grace is also a factor in that God illuminates the mind and provides a way for a person to think. God can give “light” to a problem, or He can dim the light.
  4. Sin – Sin has a way of dulling or hardening the conscience to where some of the highest IQ folks cannot see what they need to see (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).
  5. Character – The other side of the “sin problem” is a person’s character. If you have Christlike characteristics, you’re in the best place to do well in a chosen career. In many ways, “high character” is better than IQ.
  6. HabitsHabits also come into play. If a person has discipline, which in our example is an individual who studies regularly in a particular course of study, he has a higher chance of doing better than others. Disciplined repetition fits within this data point.
  7. AcademicsClassical intelligence is also part of the equation. A person who has had more exposure to a core base of knowledge—academic training—will be in a better position to succeed, though having book knowledge is not all you need to do well in life.
  8. Common SenseOriginal intelligence is the next logical step from classical intelligence. Simply stated, it is a person’s common sense. It’s their unique ability to assimilate the data and provide practical answers to life problems. Instructively, having academic training (classical intelligence) does not always mean that you have common sense or that you will be good at a particular job.
  9. PassionPassion for a task makes a huge difference. If a person does not want to do the work, they will procrastinate, fill their time with other things, and not move into a discipline with optimism, faith, and a positive attitude. A lack of passion for a task will hinder you from doing it well, if at all.
  10. Skill – Finding your sweet spot in your vocational choice is vital. Trying to force yourself into a discipline you can’t do will frustrate you and those you seek to serve.
  11. Following – Typically, all folks who are good at something have a following, which does not mean thousands of people. But others do seek them out for things they can do well. It’s a steady drip of folks who affirm your gifts and want you to help them with those skills.
  12. Comparison – I add this point because there is a danger in comparing yourself to someone else. If we all compared ourselves to John MacArthur, for example, there would be few preachers. He has a larger capacity, God’s favor, and a few other things that position him to do what he does. Our “indicators” may be smaller by degree, but it does not necessarily mean it disqualifies us from doing similar work.
  13. Burden – Some folks have a burden for a particular thing, but they aren’t good at it. A burden for a job does not always mean you have the qualification to do it. I’ve seen this with good-hearted, divorced people who want to counsel others formally. They have the right heart. They have gone through a difficult season. They want to help others from having similar trouble. The problem is that they are not good at doing this type of high-level biblical counseling, even if they gain certification to do so.
  14. Mystery – There is an element of all of this that you want to tie to the grace of God already mentioned. God will choose to raise even the “foolish” for His fame while putting down the high IQ person. Embracing mystery is vital. Sometimes it’s hard to grasp the Lord’s ways, though you must “become comfortable” with His mysterious will (Isaiah 55:8-9).
  15. Honesty – Honest assessment from others is helpful. Having at least one competent, compassionate, courageous, and caring friend is essential to help you see what you may not be able to see.

Call to Action

  1. When it comes to disciple-making, every Christian can do it. It’s a matter of quality and scope. The quality of some believer’s ability will be more pronounced than others because they do well on the indicators listed. Similarly to my “MacArthur illustration,” it does not mean you can’t disciple someone, minimally yourself.
  2. As far as the scope, you never want to limit yourself by a negative attitude. You always want to be pressing toward doing more while being honest in your community about your abilities.
  3. If you want to explore this idea of your ability to do biblical counseling (or some other profession), your first assignment is to read, listen, and watch all the resources embedded in these Show Notes. After you have done that, you want to find a friend to help you think about your qualifications for a chosen field.

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