This past week I was asked to speak to a group of women who were in leadership, some who were ACBC certified. The topic was to be something that would give them pause and consider their own personal walks. As I thought about what to speak on, a passage of scripture came to my mind that we all would do well to consider as we think about being biblical counselors.
1 Timothy 4:12-16 says,
12 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 13 Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. 15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.
In thinking about these eight excellent mandates for biblical counselors we can easily remember them by an acrostic: MANDATES.
Meditate on your calling
Timothy is to give careful thought to what God has called him to do. What about you? Do you give careful thought to what God has called you to do? Do you take your calling as a biblical counselor seriously?
Act in such a manner that no one will despise you
Timothy was to act in such a way that no one would even consider that he was a young pastor. Now you may not be looked down upon because you are young, but perhaps you are looked down on for other reasons. Our lives should be exemplary as a child of God that no one look down upon us.
Notice needed to yourself and to your doctrine
Timothy needed to pay attention to himself and to what he believed. Do you look at yourself seriously and make sure you are who you profess to believe, that you are growing in the grace and knowledge of God. Included in this is taking notice in what you believe. What do you believe? Do you hold to the fundamentals of the faith and are you growing in sound doctrine? Are you a better counselor this year than you were last year?
Don’t neglect your spiritual gift
Timothy was not to neglect his spiritual gift but use it. What are you spiritual gifts? How are you sharpening your spiritual gift? How are you using it for God’s glory? How are you using your gifts in the realm of being a biblical counselor?
Attention needed to three things, reading, exhortation and doctrine
It is imperative that counselors pay attention to reading the scriptures. We must be saturating our minds with the Word of God! We must also give attention to exhortation. Exhortation would include explanation or exposition of the passage and application. The application might be encouragement, rebuke or comfort depending on the text. Thirdly, we should give attention to doctrine. Doctrine would be the teachings of the Christian faith. Do you have a steady diet of the word of God and are you passing it on to others? Are you growing in understanding of God’s word and doctrine?
Totally give yourself to your calling
Timothy is to be known as a pastor, a shepherd of people’s souls. Are you totally giving yourself to what God has called you to do? Are you known as a shepherd of people?
Endure to the end (continue in them)
Timothy is to be examining himself to make sure he is continuing in the things that were taught to him as a young child by his mother and grandmother. We should be growing towards Christ not away from Christ. Are you continuing in the faith?
Set an example for other believers
Timothy it to be exemplary in six things, word, conduct, love, spirit, faith and purity. The word example means to be a pattern, be someone that can be traced or followed. It is imperative that biblical counselors set examples for their counselees to follow. The first way in which Timothy must set an example is in word. This would be his speech. Our speech should be encouraging and edifying pointing people to the Lord. Sometimes those words encourage and sometimes they rebuke. Secondly, we should be an example in conduct. This means we should be exemplary in how we behave. Thirdly, Timothy is to an example in love. This would be love to God and love to others. If biblical counselors don’t love God and love others then we might want to rethink what we are doing!
The fourth area we must set an example in is in spirit. This would be the manner in which something is done. Biblical counselors must have a humble, mild, forgiving and meek spirit. This does not mean we are weak and that we don’t lead, but that leading must be with strength under control. The fifth exemplary thing that must be set before others is faith which means faithfulness. Biblical counselors must be faithful to their responsibilities, to those whom he or she counsels. Lastly, we must set an example in purity. Ephesus was a city given over to sexual immorality and Timothy must not succumb to sexual temptation or pressures. He is to keep himself pure. Biblical counselors must guard themselves as they counsel others. Wisdom says “women counsel women, men counsel men.” (See Titus 2) As biblical counselors, we would do well to refer often to 1 Timothy 4:12-16, and ask ourselves, “Would anyone want to follow me as I follow Christ?”