Ep. 425 Seven Ways Biblical Counselors Can Innovate

Ep. 425 Seven Ways for Biblical Counselors to Innovate

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Shows Main Idea – My last two Life Over Coffee episodes (423 and 424) are a response to different perspectives in the biblical counseling movement regarding its future. I stated part of the problem in our movement is that there is a lot of redundancy and little innovation. Some folks took issue, offering what they believe to be innovation from their perspectives. In this episode, I aim to clarify what I mean by innovation, how it differs from a few others, and a path forward.

Show Notes

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Deep or Wide?

There are two competing ideas about innovation, though I’m sure you could add others. One is innovation by broadening the scope of what biblical counseling means. Integrationists and those sympathetic to this annexing principle—though they do not see themselves as integrationists—are beholding to this principle. These folks study secular psychologies, embrace DSM ideas, and talk of scientism and materialism, among other concepts whose ideologies do not align with Scripture.

Alternately, biblical counselors hold a sufficiency view that does not look like “spoiling the Egyptians” to bring the “best of their ideas” into our hermeneutic. We think less about annexing the culture’s philosophies and more about how to deepen our understanding and practice of the Bible. We are not unaware of the insights of the culture but realize we’ve yet to scratch the surface or mined the depths of what God’s Word teaches us about psychology—the study of the soul.

We must not “innovate” if innovation means broadening the aperture of the Bible. But if you mean we can deepen the depth of our understanding of God’s Word, then there is lots of innovation yet to come.

Key Idea: In this episode, I will share with you seven essentials to becoming a deeper, innovative biblical counselor while staying inside the boundaries of a sufficiency view. The Bible has clear boundaries, and we cannot go beyond it, plundering the world’s notions. Christians aim to mature in what it means to apply God’s Word deeply, profoundly, and practically in our lives.

Seven Ways

1 – Presupposition and Worldview: If your starting point—presupposition—and your filter—worldview—are God’s Word, you’re safe. However, many sincere biblical counselors do not have the awareness to know if they are changing presuppositionally or in their worldview.

  • Do you have a sufficiency of Scripture presupposition and worldview?
  • How do you know?
  • Who affirms your perspective, and who dares to be honest?

2 – Theorists and Practitioners: There is a difference between those who talk about counseling but have little experience in doing the work of counseling. It’s like people without babies giving parenting advice based on their academic studies or observation skills. Some things they say are helpful, but there is also a recognizable gap between theory and practice.

  • Are you a practitioner? (Malcolm Gladwell talked of 10,000, an arbitrary time for proficiency.)
  • Are you proficient in biblical counseling based on training and practice?

3 – Classical and Original Knowledge: Classical is what you learn in the academy. It’s essential. Original is the ability to apply academic rigor, customizing it to a unique person in a unique situation. Some biblical counselors apply the Bible texts without contextualizing it to the individual. The worst examples of this are “Trust God” or “We know all things work together for good.” These truths are timeless, but the person who understands the practical care of souls knows how to apply the Bible in ways that offer more than classical hope.

  • Has God given you keen insight to practicalize His Word into the lives of others?
  • Will you study how Jesus did this in John 3 and 4, where Nicodemus and the woman at the well had the same problem (classical insight), but Jesus applied Scripture differently (original application)?

4 – Knowledge and Newborns: Our job as babies in Christ is to mature by drinking and eating God’s Word. Though all folks can say, “Come see a man” (i.e., the woman at the well), after our first introduction to Christ, it takes years of study to counsel the Word.

  • Have you had training in God’s Word to where it’s a rich and dense filter through which you push people’s problems through to help them?

5 – Scripture and Pneumatic: Part of stepping into the skill of original knowledge is relying on the Spirit of God to illuminate your mind with the proper, albeit subjective, insight to help a person. There is a built-in dependency in biblical counseling where we recognize we don’t have all the answers but trust that God will use us in proportion to His desire to illuminate our minds.

  • What does it mean to walk in the Spirit as you walk alongside another person?
  • Two key concepts in counseling are prayer and prophecy: you talk to God about a person’s need, and you “speak forth” according to God’s Word.

6 – Gift Mix: There is a uniqueness to the craft of biblical counseling in a formalized setting. As the degree of difficulty rises, the gifting must elevate to meet the complexity of the problems. Analytical ability would be one gift. Another is perseverance, creating a sturdy soul who can listen to complicated stories. Courage to keep from over-caring and compassion to care appropriately are two more. And then there is maturity, a fundamental gift from God that is essential.

  • How would you rate yourself on analytical ability, perseverance, courage, compassion, and Christian maturity?

7 – Listening Skills: There are four:

  1. Micro listening is looking through a tube, stepping into their story, and knowing what they know from their perspective.
  2. Macro listening is seeing what they don’t see or have yet to discern about themselves, others, and God’s potential work in their lives.
  3. Pneumatic listening, which I mentioned earlier, is the illuminating power of the Spirit of God operating in our minds with the Word of God.
  4. Scriptural listening is the most vital as all data goes through God’s Word for affirmation or denial.
  • Which one of these do you excel the most?
  • Which one is your weakest gift?
  • What are the benefits of all three for you?

Why So Little Innovation

I don’t know why we’re not as innovative as we used to be. Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Everyone has a voice today through social media, the skilled and amateur can say anything without a filter.
  2. Some folks have imbibed in social constructs and vain philosophies, and a few don’t realize it.
  3. There are a few people who believe education is the key to innovation. Thus, they pursue academia but have little connection to the realities of “life on the ground.”
  4. Some sincere folks have been through difficult things and want to make a difference. They fail to see how a burden does not always equal ability or qualification.
  5. A few folks are afraid (insecure) to take a stand, whether in counseling situations or speaking against those who bring inferior ideas into the biblical counseling world.
  6. Simply put, some Christians are not good biblical counselors.
  7. Some bad actors want to see biblical counseling infiltrated with secular ideas.

What Can You Do?

  1. Will you work through the questions I asked under each of the seven points above?
  2. Will you have folks assess your theological depth and counseling acumen?
  3. What are your deficiencies? What is your plan to mature?
  4. What is your ceiling; what are you good at doing when it comes to counseling? For example, are you a good friend, or do you have a potential ceiling that could do formalized biblical counseling?
  5. Who are your companions in biblical counseling; what are their views? Do they believe and practice as you do?
  6. What are your motives? Do you want to help folks, or is there selfish ambition?
  7. Will you have this conversation about innovation with someone?

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