“Personal Relationship” – a Distinctive of Biblical Counselling
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep”Romans 12:15
Early in my biblical counselling training, I was struck by the personal, relational aspect of biblical counselling. My view of counselling up to that point had been largely formed by society, which so often portrays the counsellor as a ‘professional’.
While it initially felt foreign to me that biblical counselling emphasized the importance of relationship; today I can’t imagine it any other way. Through a biblical soul care ministry under the guidance of the local church, I began to re-encounter passages in my Bible that displayed this personal-relational aspect to ministry.
Acts 20 reveals a beautiful interaction between the Apostle Paul and the Ephesians as he departs. I am moved by the many ways we see the personal relationship unfold – ministry carried out with tears to everyone; teaching from house to house; sacrificial ministry; and a final departure characterised by weeping, embracing, and affection.
In 1 Thessalonians 2 we read Paul’s intimate words to the church in Thessalonica. Again, I am impressed by the display of gentleness and affection like a mother – the encouragement and comfort like a father. There is sacrificial service and a longing to be together.
When the Bible tells us to weep with those who weep (Rom. 12:15), it rules out being detached from our brothers and sisters in Christ, it calls us to move towards others in love.
Maybe this is a new idea for you, or maybe you understand the concept but struggle to put it into practice. If so, here are some ways I examine my heart to see if I am involved or detached:
First, am I praying for my counselees? Not because I know I should, but because I care about them and therefore ache in empathy with the pain they are experiencing. Do I naturally talk with God about my concern for them and ask for His assistance as they seek to change?
Second, am I taking a few minutes each time I meet with a counselee to share life together and build relationship? If I espouse the importance of relationship in biblical counselling but make no space for it to happen because there are more pressing ‘counselling’ things to do, I am missing something vital – something necessary.
Lastly, I often spend time reflecting on the first three verses of 1 Corinthians 13. Clear biblical truth, knowledge, wisdom, and self-sacrificial service; all of these are empty without love. I need to build a relationship with someone before I can truly love them well.
How are you building relationships with those you counsel?
Are you slowing down enough to allow space for relationships to grow and deepen?
CBCC Board Member
I am Cam Barnard. I worship Christ, cherish and adore my wife of 33 years, delight in my children, counsel biblically, lead, love, laugh and serve others. I work full-time in information technology and counsel several hours a week. I hold an M.A. in Biblical Counseling from The Master’s College and I am an ACBC certified biblical counsellor.