Is “Counseling” Just Another Word for “Discipleship”?

If you are a Christian, the reality is you are called to counsel other Christians.  Yes, that’s right, “counsel”.  No, you don’t have to have “Dr.” in front of your name or know anything about psychology in order to do this… you just need the Holy Spirit and God’s Word.  Paul, in his letter to the Romans, writes, “I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another” (15:14).  He didn’t write this verse to some elite group of super Christians who had received special, personal revelations from God and graduated from Paul’s honors program.  This letter was written to the entire church in Rome, so he is telling all of the Christians in that church that are able to give each other godly instruction for godly living… whether or not they had an office at the church.  So, this principle applies to every believer.

Don’t get lost in the semantics, the word “counsel” sounds so clinical and professional when it really is just another word for “discipleship”.  Jesus commanded all believers, “make disciples of all nations… teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20).  That last part of the Great Commission encompasses all of the Christian life.  We are to be helping each other obey all that Jesus commanded and Jesus gave commandments that focus on every aspect of our lives – our hearts (desires, will, emotions), our heads (knowledge, thoughts), our actions (outward obedience), and our relationships (both with believers and unbelievers).  You may be thinking, however, “Yeah, but I know some Christians who have some pretty jacked up problems, don’t they need professional help?”  To that I say, what problem do they have that do not fall into the realm of discipleship?  Yes, there are biological problems that we don’t have any control over that may require medication, but even those are in a Christian’s life for his/her good so that they will become more like Christ as they trust him with those problems and respond in obedience (Romans 8:28-29).  Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:17 that Scripture is given so that Christians may be “equipped for every good work”.  Does every mean every, or not?  The Bible is sufficient to give us everything we need to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord.  If you have the Spirit and the Word of God, then you can give help to your brothers and sisters in Christ, even if their problems are deeper than you are comfortable with.

Yes, there will be occasions when you will need to point a person to someone who knows the Word better than you, but we shouldn’t be so quick to go there.  We can often give up our responsibility to disciple other Christians too easily.  Even if you aren’t sure what to say to a brother or sister who needs help, why not take it as an opportunity to do some study and find out what the Bible says on the issue, so you’re better equipped to render spiritual aid.  The perspective and practice of the body of Christ counseling the body of Christ is something we only stand to benefit from as the church seeks to build itself up in love (Ephesians 4:16).  While it may be a bit more intense, counseling is essentially discipleship, and that’s something every Christian can and should be practicing.


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About Brent Osterberg

Ransomed sinner, husband to Keri, father to the kiddos three, associate pastor at Calvary Bible Church in Fort Worth, TX, and lover of most things epic. View all posts by Brent Osterberg

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