Our topic for today is, “Who is the counselor that counsels the counselor?”
I want to start by saying to you that there is a critical need to answer that question.
I want to describe a man named Bill. He is over an organization; he is married and has two children. He runs off with another woman of the same organization. Let’s also mention Jim. After attending a nationwide seminar called Steps of Faith, he takes a position that he’s not qualified for, becomes suicidal and unproductive, and accomplishes nothing for a year in his life. Another man is named Joe. He is a world traveler, he is multi-lingual, and he molests a co-worker’s daughter. And there’s Sam, trapped in masturbation and pornography—the XXX kind. He splits with his wife for not giving him the sexual favors that he desires.
The common denominator of all of these men is that they are either pastors or counselors. Some were on the path of ACBC counseling, but what happened? They became counselors or pastors, but what happened?
Where was the person that could counsel them? So, we have to ask the question, “Who is the counselor’s counselor?”
Let us pray before we begin. Father, this topic is so necessary because we hear of people all around us, not just in ministry, but in leadership. Church leadership, leadership in Christian organizations. They are seemingly successful on the outside, but on the inside, they need to see a counselor. They need to realize that they have One but they’ve neglected Him for a while. Lord, I pray that as we spend this hour together, we would check and see which of these counselors we already have, as well as strive to have all three. In the name of Jesus, amen.
Well, who is a counselor’s counselor?
The Holy Spirit
The first one is obvious to us because we see Him very clearly in Scripture—the Holy Spirit should be the counselor’s Counselor.
What went wrong in the men that I used as examples? They missed the priority of a regular evaluation of their relationship with God as well as relationship with others.
I draw your attention to Matthew, chapter 5. If you turn to Matthew 5 with me, you will see that we see that we are to have a right relationship to others before we have an opportunity to worship our God. And when you look at verse 24 of chapter 5, it reads like this, “Leave your gift before the altar.” That is where the Jew worshipped God. “First be reconciled to your brother, then come and offer your gift.” Then come and worship. You are not ready to worship God until you have things right with other people.
Now, let’s think on that as counselors. We often have people come in and they say, “Well, I screwed up. I yelled at my wife, I yelled at my kids, but I’m okay. I talked to God about it and He’s forgiven me.”
I will say, “Did you talk to your wife and your kids about it?”
“I don’t know, but I’m right with God.”
“No, you are not right with God.”
There needs to be a right relationship with God first. I mean, we know Matthew 6:33, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”
We are to seek God first as well.
In Matthew 7:5 says, “You hypocrites! First take out the log of your own eye and then you will clearly take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
We need to be careful that we are seeking the first things first. When we finish up today, we’re going to say, “What logs might we have in our own eye that we could be a counselor’s counselor?”
Well, right now we are talking about the Holy Spirit here who is the Counselor who dwells within us.
I am going to spend a little time in John chapter 14. We’re looking at verses 16 and 17, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another helper to be with you forever. Even the Spirit of Truth whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him for He dwells with you and will be in you.”
This Counselor, the Holy Spirit this primary “paraclete” the One called alongside to help you as Counselor. This Counselor will be with you forever.
I spent 25 years in the Chicago area. Some people contact me by email and say, “Dr. Allchin, I’d like to see you again.” I say, “Well, you have a long drive because there’s 800 miles between Chicago and Charleston.” Sometimes I’m still able to counsel them by Skype.
But I have been with Him forever, this Counselor. He is with you forever, and He abides with you forever, and His desire is to help. He is always with us, always giving the right counsel, and with this counselor, there is no appointment necessary. He is there whenever you need Him.
Class, first this Holy Spirit Counselor teaches us and helps us to remember. Look at chapter 14 in verse 26, it says, “But this Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all the things that I have said to you.” He brings things to remembrance. He teaches us. It is so important to remember.
We don’t have time to turn to it, but if we went to 2 Peter, this is what is says in the first chapter—I want to put you in remembrance. I want to stir up your mind by putting in remembrance. Remember these things. Well, the Holy Spirit brings to mind things that we ought to know.
Now we must do our studies to understand this. Some people say, “Holy Spirit, tell me what I should say to this counselee…” but they haven’t read the Word. That’s how the Holy Spirit does answer. The Holy Spirit uses your involvement in the Word and brings two pieces together.
So, you have something to say that is very biblical and right to the counselee—and this is important—sometimes as counselors, we think we are sitting in an office by ourselves with a counselee in front of us. Let me slap you in the face and remind you that the Holy Spirit is in that office working in the counselee, and working in you, to bring you to remembrance of things. You have already studied; now allow the counselee to understand the truth that you’re saying to them.
A couple years ago, a medical doctor came to me with depression. He was an emergency room medical doctor and he had a shirt underneath his robe that said, “Super Doc.” He said, “Anybody who comes through this emergency room is going to make it. Nobody will die under my watch!” … and people died.
It is God that gives life, and God that takes away life, and He determines when it is time, but this doctor didn’t get that. So, he came to me and we had several weeks of lessons on the sovereignty of God. God is the one who gives life and takes away life. I said, “Doctor, if God wanted that person to live, you couldn’t kill him. And if God wanted that person to die, you could not make him well. It is God that makes the decision and He is sovereign.”
Well, 16 weeks later, he walks out of my office a free man. The depression had lifted and he saw his place of ministry in the emergency room.
A year or so later, he calls me up and he says, “My mother is 65 and has terminal brain cancer. The doctors had given her three years to live. She is depressed and is just sitting around waiting to die.” He said to me, “You helped me so much, will you help my mother?” I said, “Well, sure, send her up.” and I hung up the phone.
I said to myself, “What in the world do you have to say to a 65-year-old woman who’s dying of terminal brain cancer? Who do you think you are?” I still had a couple of weeks until they came.
We have them fill out a PDI, the “Personal Data Inventory,” which is maybe three or four pages. You can waste 20 minutes going through that, and frankly when this lady walked into my office, I thought, “How am I going to fill up an hour worth of time? Because frankly, I have nothing to say to this lady.”
So, I spent 20 minutes going through the PDI, and I am silently saying, “God, I need to have something to say to this lady. I need to say something that will give her hope, something that will turn around this depression, and give her a desire just to live for a few more years.”
I know some people struggle with the idea of the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I think there’s no problem prompting of the Holy Spirit based on this text where the Holy Spirit takes two pieces of truth and puts them together for a perfect solution to give this lady hope.
These are the two pieces of truth that I put together, as the Spirit prompted. I said to this lady,
“Have you ever led anyone to the Lord?”
And this lady said, “Yes.”
I asked, “How many in your lifetime?”
She replied, “Maybe five people.”
I said, “How would you like to lead more people than that to the Lord in the next three years?”
And she looked at me.
I said, “Do you know anyone who started a ministry knowing that He was going to die three years later? His ministry turned the world upside down. Do you know anybody like that?”
Some of you are smiling, and that’s exactly what happened this lady! She smiled! She said, “Jesus.”
I said, “Can you imagine you walking into the Oncology Ward and tapping someone on the shoulder and saying, ‘Can I talk to you about Jesus?’”
She took the challenge! She sat up in her chair. She had looked like a bag woman when she came in—her clothes all wrinkled. She smelled okay, but you know, she was with her daughter-in-law.
When she returned to my office, she told me the stories of people who had showed up and she would say, “Can I tell you about Jesus?” and some people would say, “Jesus? Don’t tell me about Jesus! I’m dying! I can’t breathe. I’m full of cancer.”
She would hear them out, and she would say, “So am I. But there may be one difference between you and me. When I die, I know where I’m going …” and she had more opportunity to lead people to the Lord in 18 months, because after 18 months the tumor had grown in her brain, and she was not capable of going anymore. But she led more people to the Lord 18 months than she had in her whole lifetime.
Now who put all that together? That is all truth. We know Jesus had a three-year ministry; we know Jesus knew He was going to die. This was His purpose for coming. We know Jesus turned the world upside down, and so can people who have a sense of hopelessness. You can give them meaning to their life. Even if it’s only 3 years more. The Spirit teaches us, He calls us to remembrance of things that we’ve learned. Keep that in mind. We must study the Word. We must know what the Word says, and then the Spirit prompts us in bringing these things to the forefront very clearly to our counselee, and to us. The Counselor guides us into all truth.
This word, “Guide,” is talking about someone who leads, and is a leader of a blind person. That is what this guide is talking about. Jesus talked about blind leaders of the blind. This Holy Spirit is a guide to the blind. Sometimes we are blind. He is our Counselor. He guides when we are blind. Sometimes we are blinded because we have a heart that is deceitful and desperately wicked. We cannot even recognize that we are blind.
But He guides us. He guides us by the authority of His Word. We must rightly divide that Word. Remember 2 Timothy chapter 3? In 2 Timothy 2:15, it says that we need to rightly divide the Word of Truth. This Counselor convicts us of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.
Look at John 16:7-8, it says this, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I go away, the Helper will come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you and when He comes, He will convict the world concerning sin righteousness and judgment.” He is going to convict the world of sin. Righteousness and judgment brings conviction. The word means, “to put to shame.” But we need to have a sensitive conscience.
When is the last time you can remember maybe after a message from your church, or a pastor, maybe a time when you preached the message, that when you had the invitation, you went down for the invitation? Because the message was to you, too. Are able to humble yourself before your people, and say, “I’m still growing. I’m haven’t reached perfection, yet”? Or when is the last time you considered a point in a message that was said this past week and decided, “I’m going to walk in that because that was right where I am”?
See, this Holy Spirit convicts us. I have sat in sessions with people and said to different men, and different young men and different old men, “How are you loving your wife?” and the Holy Spirit says to me, “Hey Ron, how are YOU loving your wife?” That is what I am talking about.
But this Counselor also can be grieved, He can be quenched. We know Ephesians 4:29 says, “Don’t let corrupt words proceed out of your mouth, but only words that edify that they would minister grace to those who hear,” and it ends up with a statement, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.”
When we corrupt somebody, they are grieved, but so is the Holy Spirit because God created that person and we have no right to corrupt them. We have no right to grieve the Holy Spirit of God, either, because we are bringing pain sorrow and grief to God.
It says in 1 Thessalonians 5:19, “Do not quench the Spirit of God.” That is a scary place to be. The Holy Spirit can be grieved, and the Holy Spirit can be quenched. The word, “quench” is the same word that is used to describe the shield of faith in Ephesians 6:16, “In all circumstances, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.”
To extinguish the fiery darts means to quench the fiery darts of the devil, as in putting out the fire. We need to be sure our shield of faith is strong.
The problem with the quenching and grieving of the Holy Spirit is He has no longer the power to help you because you are saying, “I don’t care whether I say words that grieved the Spirit. And I don’t care what kind of dampening or water I throw on the fire of the Spirit that is working within me.”
This Counselor’s work is hindered by a “cauterized” conscience. In the Greek, the word means, “to cauterize.” When I was a young man, if you had a nosebleed you would go to the doctor and he would numb your nose. He would put one of those hot irons up your nose. You would not feel it. But he would literally scar the inside of your nose so that that the skin grew hard and tough, and you didn’t have a nosebleed anymore. It was painful for a child for a few days afterwards.
But to cauterize your conscience—this is one who has said, “No!” too many times to the Spirit of God.
You know at first, and maybe you have been there, maybe you have seen people that have been there. They do something wrong and the Spirit of God says, “No.” Then they do it again. This very same God says, “No.” They do it again. the Spirit of God says, “No!” They do it again. the Spirit of God says, “NO!” They do it again and cannot hear the Spirit of God anymore. We do not want to do that to people as counselors. We want to be very careful. We must let ourselves hear the Spirit of God say no to us and allow that Spirit do His job.
A lady to had gone to a counselor, a secular counselor. Then she came to me. She said, “Ron, you are my last hope.” She said, “I’ve spent hundreds and thousands of dollars over the last seven years going to a secular counselor. Just going into his office and we just chat. I pay him money just to chat.”
The woman’s problem was she was having an affair. And she said to him, “What do I do?” And he said, “Have your affair all you want. Eventually, you won’t feel anything anymore.” Because the counselor said, “Just do it. Do it. Do it, and eventually you won’t feel it. You won’t hear any more, you won’t hear the ‘No’ anymore. You’ll just hear that there’s no power in the shame.”
She came for biblical counseling for seven weeks and she got more than she had for seven years. She amazingly broke off the affair! And her husband waited! This was one of those times where he could have divorced, but he didn’t jump to it. He did not divorce her. The marriage was restored!
But the secular counsel that says, “Just do it, do it, do it as much as you want. It works.” But it’s not something we could ever want to work. We want to be careful that, within ourselves, that we are not saying, “No” to the Spirit who is our primary Counselor.
Well, let us look at the second one.
The second counselor is another person. This is the one who should be the counselor’s counselor.
What do we know about this other person? This other person is competent to counsel.
If you have not ever read Jay Adam’s original book that got the biblical counseling movement moving, you need to get it. The book is called, Competent to Counsel. It is the classic; in that book, he coined the name, “competent to counsel” from Romans 15:14.
And that verse says this, “I myself am satisfied about you,” Paul is talking to the Romans, “my brothers that you yourselves are filled with of goodness and filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.”
Is he or she competent to counsel you? I am talking about another person that can come alongside of you. A person who is able—this word “able” means “dynamite.” They have the power to come alongside you. This is a person of good moral character. This verse says that person needs to be, “full of goodness and filled with knowledge,” as in a certain degree of knowledge. You want that person who comes alongside of you to have knowledge and dynamically help you. This is the person who will be your other person counselor.
Well, this other person counselor is to teach and counsel the Word to you. Colossians. 3:16 is a verse that we’ve all looked at before. It has the two key words; the first is “noetic,” as in where “noetic counseling” got its name. But it also has, “didaskalo,” which is the keyword for teaching.
This other person counselor is not only to counsel you, and to warn you, but he or she is also there to teach you. Here is what the verse says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom.”
Now you want the person that will come alongside of you to be someone who has the Word of God dwelling in them. Richly. Some people gather counselors around them; I had someone come to my office and I asked why he talked to six different people. He said, “The Bible says, ‘in the multitude of counselors, there is safety.’ I talk to six different people and see if they all agree.”
I said, “Well, what did they agree on? Well, it’s wrong.”
“Well, there are six counts.”
“Yes, but they don’t know the Word of God. If I had ten counselors who counseled me all the same, or one counselor who remembered Word of God and he gave me a position that was biblical that these ten didn’t, then I’m going with this guy.” That is the one whom I am going with. A person who knows the Word ought to be the other person, the counselor here. This other person counselor is the one to counsel the disorderly brother. We see that in 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 where Paul said, “If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet, do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him and warn him …” counsel him, instruct him, “… as a brother.” Now, we know that in the King James and New King James, it was the “disorderly brother,” in the ESV it is the idle brother. This is a brother who was out of step. That is what the word means.
I get calls from pastors and counselors all the time who are struggling in certain areas of their life. Now I am currently counseling a half a dozen pastors and a couple schoolteachers who are all struggling, all disorderly, brothers. But I wish they had somebody, and I instruct them to get somebody, they need to have an accountability somebody, another person counselor, who will ask them the tough questions. Someone who will come into their office or gym or their classroom. Someone who will just meet him for coffee and say, “How are you doing in your high-risk area?” And they must be willing to share that.
How are you doing? I know there are times that you walk down the hall of the church and somebody says, “Hey, Dr. Allchin, how are you doing?” And I always say, “Fine.”
Sometimes I catch him off guard. I like to do this every once in a while, when I feel a little cocky. I say, “Well, why are you asking? If I told you I wasn’t doing well, would you want to sit down and pray with me and talk with me?” Some people say, “Yes,” and some people say, “No, I guess not.” I say, “Okay then, I’m fine. Yeah, I’m fine.”
But I want that person who will come into my office, look me in the eye and say, “Doc, how are you doing?” That is what I want.
If you do not have that, you ought to have it whether you are a woman or a man. We are not silos. We operate with people all around us all the time and our counselees. Likewise, we need to have that—the counselor’s counselor—the other person counselor, the one who is willing to come up and ask you the tough questions.
Paul had Tychicus. Tychicus and Paul were intimate in the relationship, I know this because when I read these texts of Scripture, it says that Tychicus knew all about Paul. Just listen to these verses.
In Colossians, he says, “Tychicus will tell you all about my activities.” In other words, he knows all about what I’m doing. “He is a beloved brother” He is not just a beloved brother, but they have a love relationship that two men are allowed to have. “… and he’s a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I have sent him to you for this very purpose that you may know how we are.”
Flip over to Ephesians 6. We see in verses 21 and 22 that he says something similar. He says, “So that you may know how I am and what I’m doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything.”
He doesn’t just know what Paul is doing, he knows how Paul is doing. What does that mean to say “how I am doing”? Some will say, “Yeah, how are you, Dr.?” Oh, they don’t care whether I’m counseling or not. If they really want to know how I am doing, they will ask me, “How are you doing?”
I was out to breakfast this morning with a dear couple, and right at the end of the breakfast—it was a very tender time for me; they probably don’t know it—but they turn to Sherry and I and they said, “How can we pray for you?”
How can we pray for you? I like that. I hope you have somebody that prays for you.
Have you had somebody that will come alongside of you? If you say you are having a bad day, they will put their arm around you and pray for you. They do not just say, “I’ll pray for you,” but actually pray for you right at that time. I know many of us have said to people, “I’ll pray for you” and we never did. I am guilty. Now I try to stop right at the time. Somebody says, “Pray for me.” I pray for them right then because I know what happens to my mind when I fill it with a bunch of other things.
We all must have a Tychicus. Someone who will have and come alongside of us, someone like Paul, who had an intimate relationship with Tychicus. We have to have another person counselor because another person counselor has mutual benefits.
I draw all these points out of the text in Ecclesiastes. Turn to Ecclesiastes 4:9, and you will see that this other person counselor has mutual benefits. That’s because there is mutual effort.
Verse 9 says, “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil.” Two people working together. Get more accountability with one another and get a better return. A better return to pastors who are keeping one another accountable, to Christian workers who keep one another accountable, a woman keeping another woman accountable. There are many to complexities in our life today, in our world, in, and of, our culture.
But the other person counselor also has mutual support. Verse 10 continues, “For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who was alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up.” Again, we see mutual support—one will lift up the other. No one is going to be left in the fall. In fact, brother, if he’s there before one falls in the hole, they can prevent them from falling in the hole by just being there as source of strength and support and help.
There is also a mutual encouragement. Look what it says, “Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?”
Now, I’m not suggesting we can we get in bed with our accountability person, right? I’m not saying that. But I am saying this, I was speaking at a men’s retreat at a campground that had an open pavilion. There were 400 men and I am speaking to them on how to love their wives. I am saying that if you understand how to love your wife, you understand your wife. You build an intimate relationship with her spiritually, socially, intellectually, emotionally, and physically.
If you are going to love your wife like Christ loved the church, and He gave Himself up for her, pay attention to what He did not only on that the last day of His ministry, but on the other 1,094 days of Christ’s ministry. How did He sacrifice and love His wife? I say to men, you can’t know what that means unless you know what how Christ loved His wife during the Gospels, specifically. How did Christ specifically love His wife in the Gospels? His Bride. Okay, tell me that He was not married. Alright, this is heresy. All right. No, I mean His Bride—every person He touched, every person He fed, every person He healed—was His wife.
So, you talk about socially loving your wife. Where did Christ? What would Christ do socially with his wife? I look for specifics. Not generals. Christ loved his wife by socially by taking her to weddings, and the funerals, and to walks, and boating and fishing and a fish fry on the beach. Specifics, men. Do you get it? The men said, “I don’t love my wife and I’m outside here. I don’t know how to love my wife.”
Read the gospels and write down everything—spiritually, socially, actually mostly physically. You could add some more financially. How did He spend money or how did He tell them to get? How did He bless them with money? However, that’s what I was speaking on for these men and I used a handout.
But I got the handout from Wayne Mack’s, “Homework Manual for Biblical Living.”
If you are a counselor, and you don’t have this, you need to have it. I can’t imagine any counselor who doesn’t have one of these volumes because they have such great homework assignments. Well, there is a sheet in here that says “Ways a Husband May Express Love to His Wife.”
And it has 103 ways. I copy these, (I gave Wayne credit) and I said, “I have up these up here on the platform. After I am finished, these sheets that have one hundred and three ways to love your wife. You just come up and get them after my talk is over.” They were just like a stampede when they came up and took them all. We had to print more then, for every group of men that were standing around.
Now, let me be a little bit more specific. I was preaching in sneakers, jeans, and a white T-shirt at this camp. That is how all the guys were dressed. I was really putting myself into it. The temperature was probably around 78. It was hot. It was outdoors and there were no fans. But as I was speaking, a cold front moved through. In 10 to 15 minutes, the temperature dropped 20 degrees, so now we went from 78-68 to 58. I am sweating as I’m standing up in front answering questions. And, as I am standing there, I’m realizing that I’m shivering because of the coldness and the sweat. A man, and I don’t know who he was, I will find out in heaven, he came alongside me and realized what was happening. He got close to me. He put his arm around me, and he stood next to me, closely, while I am asking questions. My shivering stopped; the warmth of his body was enough to keep my body warm. He stopped my shivering for the next 15-20 minutes. I was able to answer the men’s questions and be completely comfortable. And after I was finished, he left. I couldn’t tell you who he was. I do not think he had any ulterior motive, but he was a support to me, and that is the point. Two are better than one.
Two people and a bed, two people standing next to one another keeping one another warm, but we’re taking a deeper than that. We want to keep one another’s fires burning because the Holy Spirit is working in us, through other people who minister to us. Mutual encouragement.
The next one is mutual strength. The counselor has mutual strength to give to the other.
They can resist an attack. Look what it says in verse 12, “Though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—and a three-fold cord is not quickly broken.” Now, one man can be taken. Two men, it will be more difficult. Three men? It is not going to happen.
I know some people say Christ is the third man. I’d like to say the Holy Spirit is the third man. Two brothers might hold me accountable, but a three-fold cord of another person counselor and the Holy Spirit.
Do you have one? Do you have another person counselor? I encourage you, if you do not, find one.
I have had many throughout my time as a minister and as a counselor. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live life without one. Let me just say to you, before we get to this third counselor, that being a counselor is sometimes a lonely place. If any of you are pastors, it sometimes can be lonely as a pastor. It can be a lonely place. I am not griping about this. It is what that particular calling can bring.
I had someone come to me after leaving a church where I was the counselor. The man said to me, “Dr. Allchin, I am sorry. I need to apologize. My wife and I wanted to have you in our home many, many, times, but we were afraid. We thought that when you came to our home, you were going to be there to criticize us. We thought you would be evaluating us. That you would look and see what we are doing. And so, we never had you into our home.”
Let me give you a piece of advice. The last thing that a counselor wants to do when they are invited into somebody’s home is to assess them for counseling. It is the last thing I want to do. I want to get away from it. My wife and I take walks back home. Charleston has nice weather. Sometimes we have to agree that we are not going to talk about the counseling center. But sometimes it can be a lonely place when people say, “How are you doing? How are you feeling? It’s good to see you.” I hope they really mean that.
Paul knew that the pastor was in a lonely place. Who will be your counselor? Whether you are a pastor, or whether you are a counselor, or whether you are someone who would be, or if you’re just an average layman, you need another person counselor.
The Counselor, Himself
The third point is this. The counselor, himself, should be the counselor’s counselor.
Yes, you yourself. You should be your own counselor. The Bible says that the counselor must be his own counselor.
If you read through 1 Timothy 4 and 5, you would see that Paul uses the reflexive pronoun four times. We are going to look at some of them, but remind yourself that a reflexive pronoun goes back to the one who is supposed to do the work; the one who is supposed to do the activity. Yes, the Holy Spirit will do His work. Yes, your other person counselor will do his work. But you have a responsibility to do something for yourself.
I am not leaving out the Holy Spirit here, but I am stressing the individual responsibility of the one who is supposed to do the work as well. We know “… work out your own salvation in fear and trembling for it is God who works in you …” but you have some work to do. This counselor, himself, is to train himself to be godly.
In 1st Timothy 4:7-8, Paul says, “… train yourself” as in exercise yourself, or γυμνάζω, “gymnasium” yourself “…to godliness for its physical exercise profits for a little while. But godliness is profitable for the life that is now and that which is to come.”
If you do not have Jay’s little pamphlet, “Godliness Through Discipline,” you should consider getting it. It is an exposition of these two verses 1 Timothy 4:7-8. You need to have it.
You have people that are undisciplined. They are not structured, they think that they can’t do anything wrong. They are more focused on their physical exercise than they are their spiritual exercise. They know how to put themselves through a gymnastic program, but to take that and apply it to a spiritual exercise program—they sometimes don’t have a clue.
Jay wrote a good book there, and it is one that we use frequently for people who live an undisciplined lifestyle. If we put people through discipline when we give them an assignment, we say to them, “Go home and discipline your children.” “Go home and love your wife 10 times this week.” “Go home and do something.” But we need to put ourselves in the same exercise program. We say, “Go home and memorize the four rules of communication and start to practice them.”
But we as counselors need to use the same four rules. And in this book by Wayne Mack, it has something called “A Log List for Husbands.”
Jesus said, “Get the log out of your own eye before you can take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Some husbands will come to me and say, “I’m fine.” I say, “Let’s take a look. I’m going to send you home with something called “A Log List for Husbands and Fathers,” and we will see how you fare by next week. We will see if you come in and say you’re doing fine.”
But then, I am reminded that I need to go through this list, too. How am I doing with my wife? Well, my kids are grown, but I have grandchildren. I do not meddle with that even though I’d like to. I don’t want there to be a leaving/cleaving problem. There are things in this list that I need to submit myself to, and you need to submit yourself to. If you’re going to be your own counselor, you would have put yourself through some of those same things where the Spirit of God can speak to you right back to you. It is not just good for your counselee, but it’s good for you as well.
Well, the counselor himself is to take heed to his life. When you look at 1 Timothy 4:16, we find another one of those reflexive pronouns. He says, “Keep a close watch on yourself.” Look at yourself first. Look at your life. Our lives show to others what we really believe. Keep taking heed to yourself—your life and example.
Paul said to the Philippians, “those things which you have both seen and learned and received and learn from me, do.” He said, “Use me as an example.” He was one who examined himself regularly, and even in the letter that he wrote to Timothy. In 1 Timothy 1:15, he said, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the least.”
If he is the chief of sinners, how can he say to use himself as an example? How could he say that? I think he is saying, “Use my outward self to follow as a model, but I do know the deceptiveness of my heart. Sometimes my motivations are not right. Philippians, follow my outside, but frankly I still see myself struggling with sin the things I want to do. I don’t do the things I should do and I do the things I shouldn’t do.” He understood the battle.
But I hope people can see our lives, that we, too have heeded the warning. We pay attention. The counselor, himself, is to take heed to his doctrine. Watch what you believe and do not sway. We have a commitment here to the sufficiency of the Word, the infallibility of the Word, the inerrancy of the Word. Keep on taking heed to what you teach. Keep an evaluation of what you teach, let someone else hear what you teach so you don’t stray in some of the doctrinal changes that we’re seeing in our liberal world today. What do we believe?
A counselor is to keep himself pure. It says, “take heed to keep yourself.” This is a reflexive pronoun that tells us that we must keep to the way that he has mentioned.
Joseph was keeping himself pure, he had a plan to keep himself pure, he was committed to raising up purity.
You know, we have a term out there and we use it all the time. It is called, “a midlife crisis.” I have had men come to me who use that term, “Doctor, I’m in midlife crisis.” What is midlife crisis? Is a midlife crisis when a man has an affair or a woman? Actually, it is a person who hasn’t evaluated themselves recently. They have not looked at their doctrine. They have not looked at their life and recognized the imbalance of their spiritual life. They realize they’re in some kind of sin, something social. They have lost friendships because they have isolated themselves.
As a counselor, as a pastor, they are not doing anything intellectually. They are not reading anymore, they are not keeping themselves up with the current writings. They are unstable, because these things are unstable physically. They find themselves getting old. I am getting old. I praise God for physical health up to this point, but some men are, and some women, are just not taking good care of themselves physically.
I have two pastors who have given their whole life to ministry, but did nothing like Social Security, nothing for future planning, no IRA’s. They are struggling financially. They don’t have houses; they are not paid for. The one former pastor, who is now 69, is Uber driving because somewhere along the line he didn’t keep up with an earnest examination. So, in the financial sphere, he and his wife find themselves in a very insecure position. The other is going to become an evangelist who travels around our country, going church to church, to small churches with piddly offerings and not enough to keep themselves and their family alive.
Somewhere, there needed to be some adjustments made. Well, I don’t have to tell you that many have fallen, like the ones that we talked about at the beginning. Some of them are counselors. Some within our own organization, and others in times past have fallen because they didn’t keep themselves pure.
We need to be people who have counselors and we can have three of them. We can have the Holy Spirit; we need to be alert to Him working in our lives through the Word. We can have another person—we must have another person. There are all kinds of benefits to have that other person. Then we ourselves must be our own counselor. As we counsel others, may the Holy Spirit speak back to us, “How are you doing in that same area?”