Note from the BCC Staff: This is the fifth in a series of periodic posts by biblical counselors regarding what they have learned during their years of ministry in biblical counseling. Read Part One: Hayley Satrom: Reflections after Two Years, Part Two: Deepak Reju: Reflections after a Decade, Part Three: Bob Kellemen: Reflections after Thirty Years, and Part Four: Howard Eyrich: Reflections after Forty Years. Today Chris Boucher shares what he’s learned after five years as a biblical counselor.
I am a Professor of Counseling and Discipleship at Capital Bible Seminary in Lanham, Maryland. I have served God’s Kingdom as a counselor, professor, pastor, youth pastor, youth leader, as well as many other hats.
I am also no stranger to suffering this side of Eden. I suffer daily from severe chronic pain. One tool the biblical counselor has in his arsenal that remains unmatched in the secular world is hope. I do not know where I would be without the hope that the Word of God brings into my life. God has blessed me with a wife and two sons. My oldest son came into our lives at 7 months, weighing just over 8 pounds. He is 5 now and has the cognitive ability of a 9-month-old. My personal and professional testimony boasts in God’s sustaining grace especially when your son is heading off to surgery and there is always that possibility that something could go terribly wrong.
There’s Much Work Left To Do
The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. I have learned there is still much ground to cover. Terms like anorexia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and alcoholism are foreign to the Bible, but the core concepts like image, control, fear, anxiety, and idolatry are certainly not.
We need scholarly, relational practitioners who are dedicated to understanding the Scriptures and understanding people from God’s perspective. John Piper once said of the Bible, “If you are willing to rake you will only get leaves, but if you are willing to dig you will find diamonds.” We need more people dedicated to mine the diamonds of Scripture. I’m learning and personally recommitting myself to mining the Scriptures for robust and relational wisdom for living.
We Are Not As Smart As We Think We Are
Many suffering people turn to science in their pain because they reason that science has simple, quick answers. Go see a doctor, describe the symptoms of the pain—either emotional, relational or physical—and within fifteen minutes the doctor prescribes the life-altering medication. Problem Solved! After all, Dr. Phil solves most of the problems presented to him in fifteen minutes—thirty minutes tops.
I have learned through my own battle with chronic pain as well as many first-hand accounts from doctors that it is just not that simple. I’m learning, in my own life and in my counseling, that while I thank God for the common grace of scientific study, I am eternally grateful for the inspired and inerrant Scriptures.
We Don’t Know God’s Word As Well As We Think We Do
I realize that the question of integration is debated and will continue to be debated. I teach a class that deals with the subject of where God’s Truth ends and the world’s truth begins. Students often tell me that they can read pretty much anything out there and then they “filter” what they read through the lens of Scripture. I follow that statement up with light-hearted but serious rebuttal: “What’s in Genesis 23? What’s in Exodus 16, I Samuel 4, Psalm 14, Psalm 77?”
I think you get the point. They certainly do. How can we evaluate truth claims that we hear or read from the world through God’s Word when we don’t know God’s Word? I’m rededicating myself to continually pore through God’s Word.
Some Have Doubts
Sadly, I have also learned that many people simply do not have confidence in God’s Word. I don’t always know what to think when people tell me they have “given Jesus a try,” or they have “tried the biblical approach and it just hasn’t worked” for them. I am reminded of the disciples who turned from following Jesus after His teaching that He is the Bread of Life.
“Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can understand it?’ When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, ‘Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life’… From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (NKJV, John 6:60-66, emphasis added).
I’m committing myself to the truth that Jesus alone has the words of life because He is the Word of Life.
Many Have Confidence in the Sufficiency of Christianity
I am also encouraged by the momentum of the biblical counseling movement. There are many who are confident in God’s Word working through God’s Spirit in God’s people and this is exciting. Foundational organizations like the NANC have paved the way for existence of the BBC, the ABC, CCEF, FBCM, and other great organizations who are committed to “asking for the old paths, where God’s way is, and walk in it” (NKJV Jer. 6:16). I’m committing to building my life and ministry on that ancient path found in God’s inerrant Word.
Join the Conversation
How could you grow in your knowledge of God’s Word so that your commitment to the sufficiency of Scripture could translate into even more effective practice of biblical counseling?