What impedes your ability to counsel?

How would you describe a “healthy sense of self”? Does it impede your ability to counsel?

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV).

Our minds are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Our minds govern our thoughts, and our actions.  From a spiritual standpoint, we tend to want to counsel people according to our thoughts and our actions and not according to the Word of God. We must remember that “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,  neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV).”

We all have personal limitations, opinions, perspectives, and views.  This is dangerous when we are counseling others.  Why? We tend to counsel from our own interpretation of what we think the Bible says.  We counsel based on our own frame of reference.  Sometimes, we counsel based on our own biases and to cover up our own sins.  We must know our limitations and make sure that we are not presenting our thoughts as God’s.  How we counsel others is based on our own sense of self.  If that sense of self is distorted and outside of God’s will then our counsel will show that sense of self.

From the standpoint of being a counselor, the counselor [pastor] should be aware of their professional limitations (Kollar, 2011). A counselor must also know their areas of spiritual weakness. They should be aware that their personal and or emotional challenges will impede the counseling process for some care seeker and be willing to refer them to someone else.  That is having a healthy sense of self.

Looking at selfhood as a construct; it is knowing who you are as an individual; it is the embodiment of having a real sense of self (“Week 4: 1 Multi-tasking in Christian Counseling [PowerPoint],” 2015, Slide: Professionalism in spiritually sensitive counseling).  It is not sinful to be aware of the gifts of understanding, creating, compassion, empathy, patience, discernment, and who you are in Christ. This enables a counselor to counsel in a Christ-like manner  (“Week 4: 1 Multi-tasking in Christian Counseling [PowerPoint],” 2015, Slide: Professionalism in spiritually sensitive counseling).

According to McMinn (2011), a healthy sense of self or selfhood gives meaning to the healthy relationships we have with God and others (p. 51).

When an individual has a negative sense of self it impacts their relational style with God, and others.

  1. They pray but for the wrong reason.
  2. They enter relationships with others, but for the wrong reasons.
  3. Always seeking fulfillment but never achieving that golden egg that the goose laid because they do not know who they are as an individual.
  4. The quandary occurs when, as Christians, we perceive that it is evil and or sinful to acknowledge who we are in Christ, but that is not so within the theoretical framework of psychology.

McMinn proposed, ” When clinicians and personality theorists speak of self, they do not refer to reckless independence [a person who behaves without regard for the emotional or physical safety of others] but to a capacity to distinguish one’s own identity from others in the environment (p. 59).  As a Christian trained in how to work with students with emotional disabilities, I do not see the difference between the theoretical and or theological concepts. “An accurate understanding of self helps us admits our needs and allows us to be full partners in meaningful relationships, and recognizing our needs contributes to our awareness of ourselves. We are able to draw close to God as we humble ourselves, and we are able to humble ourselves as we draw close to God. A balanced self, brokenness, and close relationships with God bring maturity and health. Those who have an accurate understanding and acceptance of themselves are freed to experience greater emotional or spiritual health.” (pp. 51-2)

Paul, speaks to the parts of the body of Christ and the very fact that each member of the body has a specific role to play (I Corinthians 12 NIV).  To conclude, McMinn declared, “Those who have an accurate understanding and acceptance of themselves are freed to experience greater emotional or spiritual health (p. 61).  Ephesians 2:10 (New King James Version) we are reminded,  “ For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

McMinn (2011) states “the kind of therapeutic relationships that foster healing are not formed merely from well-chosen techniques but grow out of the person’s inner life” (p. 27). He further iterated that our spiritual life should ideally “spill over” into the lives of those around us, which makes our personal life a critical part of producing productive and professional work (pp. 28-29).

References

Kollar, C. A. (2011). Solution-focused pastoral counseling: An effective short-term approach for getting people back on track. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
McMinn, Mark R. Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality in Christian Counseling. N.p.: n.p., 2011. Web. <https://play.google.com/books/reader?printsec=frontcover&output=reader&id=LNT_QSrKqggC&pg=GBS.PA119.w.3.1.15&gt;.
Week 4: 1 Multi-tasking in Christian counseling [PowerPoint]. (2015). Lecture, Liberty University Integration of Psychology and Theology. Retrieved from Blackboard.Liberty.edu
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