The tendency on your part will be to give more and more to your counseling. I will agree that you have to be ready to make a real sacrifice, and put the necessary effort and time into your ministry. I also say that you have to learn to balance that with other important things in your life, especially your family and marriage, if you are married. Counseling will make a big demand on you, but you must control how much and what you give. Give your best, but give carefully. Pray before you go into your counseling session (and as often as you remember). Pray after the session, as well. Pray away those “spirits” that will want to attached themselves to you. Pray even when you don’t feel the need. You can use all the prayer you can get.
“Do not be deceived” (to quote the Bible from Galatians 6:8), “God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows that shall he also reap.” Yes, what you put into your ministry will be what you get out of it. You must make it your passion, while at the same time making healthy and ell-thought out decisions.
Think about it, if you were experiencing a very difficult time in your life right now, who would you go to for help? Would you go to the counselor who counsels for a living, who needs to bring in an income from those she counsels? Would you go to someone who does it as a job, who leaves all the “counsel” at the office? Would you go to someone who limits your visits to exactly 60 minutes, regardless of the issues? Or . . .
Would you go to someone who lives counseling, who has it first thing in the morning and the last thing on their mind at night? Someone who knows how to separate the ministry from their personal life, but never stops being the counselor? Someone who works hard at learning, studying, and developing herself into the mold that God has for her in counseling? Someone to whom counseling is a ministry, a way of reaching out and easing the pain of others? Someone who knows that a degree from college is not the final “certifying” instrument, but that it is God’s calling and Word, which are the qualifiers.
Sure, a counselor can be a great counselor and still treat it as a source of income. But, God is specifically looking for those people who will allow Him to use them as His vessels for touching the lives of the hurting. He wants to counsel people through you, but He also wants to minister to your family through you. You have to leave the issues and problems in the counseling office, but you have to take the ministry everywhere you go. You don’t start and stop being a Christian counselor, you are a Christian counselor, just like you are a Christian. What you do does not decide who you are, but who you are decides what you do. That is not something you “leave at the office.” Everywhere you go you are a Christian, therefore, everywhere you go, you are a counselor. Why, because the Words tells us to be ready, “in and out of season.” (2nd Tim 4:2)
Allow me to challenge your thinking, which may argue against what your preacher has told you many times. We are to place God first in our lives. But, what does that mean? Well it does not mean that our families and relationship responsibilities are to be placed aside or in some sort of “second place.” It means that if I put God in first place, then as a husband I treat my wife as if she is in first place. As A wife, I treat my husband as if he is in first place. As a parent, I treat my children as though they are in first place. As an employee, I treat my job as though it is in first place. As a man, I treat God Himself as though He is in first place.
Live your life as fully as you can. If you are married minister to your wife (or husband) the way you would counsel your clients to treat their spouses. Go on those dates on which you will encourage the clients to go. Buy the flowers, or watch that football game, or have that sex, as you will encourage others for their lives. If you are a parent, develop the type of relationship with your children that you would counsel others to have. Make time for them. Spend time with them. Give time to them. They want your time, much, much more than they will ever want your money. Then counsel others to do the same.
Take care of your home, do the repairs, clean it, and so forth, just as you would counsel your clients. Do those odd jobs that are needed at your home, before you try to impress others with your wisdom. In other words, really demonstrate your love for your family, and with that experience, tell others how to do the same. Carry your life into your counseling sessions, but leave the problems and issues in the counseling office.
Your relationship with your spouse will protect you from the temptation to abuse your counseling privileges with persons of the opposite sex. Your relationship with your children will protect you from lethargy. Your relationship with your fellow church members will protect you from feelings of isolation. Your relationship with the Lord will protect your clients.
You are a husband, wife, son, daughter, brother, or friend, before you are a counselor. On the other hand, you are always a counselor. Be ready in and out of season, but still have a life.