Christ, Our Cowbell

Neither the counselor nor the counselee determines the pace. The Lord alone does that.

There is no evidence of Cardio in Genesis 1 & 2. Therefore, I must assume all forms of Cardio are a part of the Fall.

I have two family members who are Ironman athletes. They train for months, timing their drinks, their carbs, and strategizing how to approach how hard to go and when. They train for a race that is going to test everything they’ve got.

There are a lot of parallels between triathlons and the counselling process. Sweat. Tears. Pain. Regret. The race is wearying, but the finish line is rewarding.

Let’s talk for a minute—not about the finish line, but about the trying and difficult middle of the race. That’s where most drop out due to discouragement.

It is critical for us as counsellors to acknowledge in our hearts that there is a pace to the counselling process. It is equally critical for the counsellee to acknowledge that there is a pace to the counselling process.  Neither the counsellor nor the counsellee determines the pace. The Lord alone does that.

2 Corinthians 3:18 says:

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

Galatians 3:2-3 says:

Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

In Biblical Counselling, we begin dependant. As we behold the Lord during the counselling process, the Lord upholds the counselling process. If we are not careful, we can fall into the Galatian trap of believing the process is accomplished by our performance or our agenda.

The Lord, guided by His Word and through His Holy Spirit, is the one that is growing the counsellee. We cannot manufacture this process as though it were an equation: A+B+C=D. That is not how the counselling process goes – it’s rarely that smooth. Like triathlons, there is much that happens in the unpredictable middle. A not so common thing discussed is that triathletes can defecate themselves during the race. Again, another parallel to the counselling room. I’ll allow you to make that connection. 

There is the inevitable, “Why did I do this?” “I can’t do this!” “What was I thinking?” Anyone who has done counselling or competed in an Ironman knows those words can often be heard and thought.

It is important that we as counsellors do not project a timeline onto a process that is determined only by the Lord. It is equally important that we encourage the counsellee not to be crushed by their own projected timeline. We must encourage them to keep going, and to fix their eyes on Jesus.

My favourite thing to do at these Ironman events is to take the cowbells they hand out and become an obnoxious encourager. Whether at the transition points or at the finish line, the athletes need to hear how far they have come, and how great they are doing. They need to be reminded how there is a finish line and they are growing ever closer to it.

That is exactly what counsellees need to hear, too. Keep going! See how much you’ve grown and how far you’ve come. Look ahead – you are approaching the goal. Look at what the Lord has done! As care-givers we must to obnoxiously ring the cowbell of Christ to encourage those whom God has entrusted to us.

Hebrews 12:1-2 says: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…

I love these verses. When we’re huffing and puffing, legs tired and lungs burning, the way we “keep on keeping on” is through keeping our eyes on Christ. Perseverance (“It’s hard!”) must be paired with perspective (“fixing our eyes on Jesus”).

How does looking at Jesus enable us to run with perseverance? Because a tomb once filled with weeping and disbelief turned into the greatest display of power and joy the world has ever seen. But God still deemed it to take three days.

It is not hard to find a counselling room that is heavy, difficult, traumatic, and dark. For those of us who care from a cross-centered perspective, let us be quick to add hope, encouragement, and joy. Let’s “cowbell” well by entrusting the pace to Him, and encouraging those in our care to fix their eyes on Christ.

Questions For Reflection:

How can you grow in the intentional art of hope and encouragement in the counselling process?

What insecurities or difficulties arise in you when it comes to trusting the Lord’s timing and process?

How does Christ see and speak to the disheartened, discouraged counsellee?


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