There is nothing that will prepare you for a real, effective, healthy, productive, successful, and meaningful counseling ministry as much as developing a real and personal relationship with the Lord. Your strength will come from Him. Your wisdom and discernment, without which you are of no use to anyone at all, will come from Him. Those times of rest, when counseling drains you to your very soul, comes from Him. He is your all in all, and there will never be a substitute.
The question then is, “How do I develop this real and personal relationship?”
Make a decision, before you start counseling, or as of this very this moment, if you already have been counseling, that God will get all the credit for all the success you will ever achieve as a counselor. That will mean, from now on, that your counseling and therapeutic skills and abilities will be completely dependent upon Him. If this becomes true. Then you must let Him guide your development as a counselor. This means that you constantly look back the His Word for further guidance. That you do not allow what you believe to be true, right, correct, fair, or the best, interfere with His teaching and principles.
God chooses certain people to become His counselors. One of the traits that Christian counselors have, for the most part, is the uncanny ability to persuade people with just their words. There are many people in life that use the words of their mouths to make a living. Car salesmen and other salespeople depend strongly on their natural abilities to use words to persuade customers to buy their products. God has gifted these people with this ability. It is up to the person to use His abilities for the work of the Lord. You were chosen by God for several reasons, some I will be able to identify for you, but others may be so specific for you that I would have to know you personally to get to know what they may be. I am able to discern these traits because I am also one of those who have been called by God to counsel.
He sees something special in you that even you may not see. As I mentioned above one of those traits is the ability to persuade others with just our words. In the Christian world, we find many of these people in the roles of pastor, leader, teacher, evangelist, apostle, and so forth. When the Scriptures say that many are called but few are chosen, it is not kidding. You are among those few. And because you have this ability to persuade others with your very words, you are also held to a higher standard of responsibility and accountability by God. God expects that, besides earning a living, you must also use your ability for His glory. He will not force you to do His will, but He will also not release you from your responsibility just because you will not meet your obligation to Him. Because you have this gift, you have noticed that often you were able to gain personally from this gift. Whether through the subtleness of your words others felt they should “repay” you for your seeming generosity to them, or because you strongly implied an obligation on their part and they gave to you from that, or because you obviously used your gift to manipulate some type of personal gain, it is all the same. You are either just using this gift for your gain, or you will choose to use this gift for His glory.
God has no problem that you must use your personal skills to earn a living. On the contrary, He wants you to do so and is ready to bless you further, but he just wants you to also use them for His purposes. He wants you to want to use your skills for Him. To accomplish what He believes is the more important use of your talents. He wants you to see your ministry in that manner. You can gain that perspective. You can gain it by working harder on your personal relationship with Him. Whether or not you feel strong, confident, able, and so forth, choose instead to seek His strength instead. Seek His counsel, even when you already know what to do. Show Him that you need Him, even when you don’t really feel it. Even when your wisdom and discernment tell you that you have identified the root of the problem of that client of yours, still ask Him what He thinks about the whole thing.
Make time to just sit in His presence, saying and thinking nothing. Just basking in His presence. This is the place where you will find peace and rest. You need those times to recharge your counseling “battery” to be ready for the next case that will always come along. You don’t ever have to worry that people may not come to you, your “worry” (if I may call it that) is whether you will make time to go to your Lord and Savior. Make time for prayer. Even when you really don’t feel like it. If you are a parent, then you know how it feels when your children don’t spend time with you. Worse yet if they don’t want to spend time with you. I have two grown sons, and there are times when neither one makes even a short time to just sit with me. Those times are lonely times for me. Well, God feels the same way. He wants you to spend time with Him. He waits for those times with anticipation.
He wants you to want to be with Him, and not just because you have to, or should.
When you pray. Drop the religious stuff once in a while and just speak with Him in your natural words. Treat Him like He is really there. Speak to Him and not at Him. He cares to hear what you have to say. He does not want you to try to impress Him with how many “hallelujahs,” or “Praise the Lords” you can say in a minute. Leave the big impressive religious sounding prayer language to us Pastors and such, since we have too often prayed in public and they expect that kind of thing from us. No, in your personal time with Him, be for real, be natural, and be there because you want. Your relationship with God will help you through some of those difficult times when you feel like you have to go to a counselor yourself, but are just too proud to even really consider it.
In your counseling ministry, you will be tempted to do wrong, say the wrong things, behave questionably, and sometimes maybe even lash out at those difficult clients. It is in these times of weakness, that your relationship with Him will make you strong. As I mentioned before, your family life is way more important than your counseling ministry, but your relationship with the Lord is most important in your life. Do not confuse them.