Ed Welch writes,
"A friend was discussing a counseling situation with me in which he seemed unusually tentative. Though he was thinking clearly and wisely, and he had counseled others in very similar circumstances, he seemed intimidated.
I asked why he was so uncertain.
'I am afraid that I am missing something, and either the passing of time or the secular therapist down the street will reveal that I did not know what I was talking about. What if there is a medication for this that really helps? What if there is a method that is successful and I don’t know it?'
One of my concerns is that students can be immobilized by their fears of inadequacy. You already feel inexperienced and inadequate. Now add [an outside criticism that] 'spiritual steps are shallow,' and you will feel more inadequate."
In a letter to biblical counselors in the forthcoming fall issue of the JBC (26:3), Ed Welch engages counselors struggling with a sense of inadequacy, both from self-criticism and external criticism. Welch asks,
"When you rub shoulders with the broader counseling world, will you too wonder if your training was narrow and provincial? Will you come to think spiritual steps are shallow? Will you resort to eclecticism as a way to ward off possible shallowness? Will you be able to respond to these perceptions? Do you yourself have these thoughts?"
He responds gracefully and specifically to four outside perceptions of biblical counselors: we focus on sin, we gloss over personal history, we dismiss psychiatric diagnoses, and we object to secular observations. After responding to each, he responds with perceptions of his own, and proceeds to affirm the significance and competency of biblical counselors in their ministries.
The letter is an encouraging and provoking read. Return on Monday, October 8, to read this letter in the Journal of Biblical Counseling for free.
Chris Carter is a content curator at CCEF. Chris is also an intern counselor and the design editor for the Journal of Biblical Counseling.