Counselling Ministries -- By: Jay G. Myers
ATJ 4 (1971) p. 21
People have problems and become troubled. Initially most try to work out a solution, but when the present discomfort becomes too great they will seek help. Where they go to seek that help depends basically on two conditions; one is the individual’s personal orientation, the other the availability of sources of help.
The fact that forty-six per cent of people seeking counsel go first to a clergyman indicates something of the opportunity of the minister to serve, as well as his responsibility to become as proficient as possible in this vital work. Unfortunately not all who are called upon for such service are adequate to answer that call, and even more unfortunately too many do not know they are inadequate. But this need not be so. Counselling belongs in the area of Christian ministry; in fact is a distinct and unique facet of the profession.
No one need be reminded that this is an age of specialization. Man’s opportunity and resources from which to learn have become so immense that it is absurd for anyone to think that it is possible to be an expert in all areas of his own profession. In many instances clergymen have apparently failed to realize that to specialize in any given part of their “calling” as men of God is not an act of deserting that call. Not too many years ago if a priest or minister went into institutional chaplaincy work his friends and family wondered why he had left the ministry or what he had done to catch the wrath of some bishop or district superintendent. Even more recently people have wondered why a pastor leaves the ministry to become a counsellor.
Somehow there must be a greater awareness within the ministry itself that counselling is a distinct specialty with a place that needs to be filled by people who recognize its importance and prepare themselves for such service without qualms about whether they are “leaving the ministry.” It seems unfortunate but nevertheless true that members of other professions have on numerous occasions seemed more aware of the minister’s role here than has been the case within the ministry itself. A psychiatrist speaking to a class of clergymen one day, opened his lecture with this remark: “If your profession had not abdicated
ATJ 4 (1971) p. 22
its role many years ago we fellows would never have gotten into business.” Obviously an over-simplification, but the speaker was an active churchman who also knew something of church history, so his statement had to carry some weight. One has to wonder where or how the art of counselling was relegated to a necessary chore that had to be done when time from more important Kingdom work could be spared.
The word “counselling” means m...
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