This happens a lot to Christians, I think, because we want to believe our brothers and sisters in the flock will love us and never hurt us. So, we tend to make rather broad judgments regarding people’s character. We assume that if someone is in our “Christianity club,” they will by virtue of membership undoubtedly portray in their daily lives and work all the virtues of Christ. This happened to my friend when he chose a contractor based at least to some extent on his professed Christianity. This man might very well have been a fine Christian. But he was a terrible builder.

This same dilemma rings true in all human-run endeavors, and it is true in the field of counseling, too. Many of us, when we find ourselves hurting with a hurt too deep to treat ourselves, reach out for a hand from someone who is supposed to know how to help us. Maybe they do, and maybe they don’t. 

What Is A Counselor?

The Bible gives us several uses of the word “counselor.” Proverbs 11:14 and 15:22 indicate an adviser, and 2 Samuel 15:12 a king’s state counselor. The word is used once to describe the Messiah (Isa. 9:6). In Mark 15:43 and Luke 23:50, the word probably means a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin.

 

Like all that springs from the brokenness of man, human counsel is often less than wise. Still, Scripture tells us of our need for connecting with others in order to attain the emotional clarity God wants for us:

 

Folly is joy to him that is void of wisdom; but a man of understanding maketh straight his going. Where there is no counsel, purposes are disappointed; but in the multitude of counselors, they are established. A man hath joy in the answer of his mouth; and a word in due season, how good is it! To the wise the way of life goeth upward, that he may depart from Sheol beneath. (Proverbs 15:21-24)

 

Obviously, the Word and Spirit of God are the best counselors for the wounded soul. When seeking His wisdom from another human being, then, we must first bathe our search process in prayer, asking Him to lead us to someone who will be right for our individual needs. All of the earthly factors should be considered: training, professional accreditation, personality, and, depending on your feelings about such things, his or her religious leanings. Then there are pragmatic considerations like fees and insurance issues. But beyond all this, I think, we as Christians must seek something in the counselor far more essential to healing than all the Ph.D.’s put together: Giftedness.

Where Do I Begin?

Finding the right counselor is like finding the right spouse. Okay, maybe not; we won’t have to actually live with the person, thank God. But a client-therapist relationship does carry with it a sort of emotional intimacy, and you should not be afraid to SHOP for just the right person. Despite the glowing reviews from friends or pastors, or the impressive walls covered with degrees and awards, automatically assuming this is the place God intends for you to begin the healing process can be dangerous. A sign hanging on a door reading “Christian Counseling Center” does not guarantee the presence of gifted therapists inside the building. It’s not that one counselor is necessarily better than another, only that there might be one better for you.