Is it the content of the conversations (e.g., the number of times the Bible or Jesus are mentioned)? Is it the character of the person providing the counsel? Is the goal of counseling something that makes counseling Christian?
For those interested in studying Christian theories, you might start with the Psychology & Christianity: Five Views (InterVarsity Press, 2010) and observe five different Christian thinkers interact with psychology and four other thinkers. For the sake of this post, consider this illustration of the five key models.
The other day, I overheard my son and his friend teasing each other with this phrase. When I asked them what it meant, they said it was a sarcastic reference to the party line they hear in school that if you disagree with anyone, especially with regard to your religious or political views, you are automatically charged with hating them.
Now, no one wants to be hated (or be accused of being a hater). And so, to avoid this charge, it is tempting to just accept whatever prevailing party line holds sway at the time. But I cannot help but wonder that if disagreeing with someone automatically means that I hate them, the word “hate” sure has been trivialized. I wonder if defining the word “hate” so glibly risks trivializing real hatred.
In the year fourteen and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
When I was in elementary school, we learned this ditty as an intro to how America started. We learned about the Nina, the Pinta, the Santa Maria; about how brave Columbus and the sailors endured for months after thinking they were lost or would never see land again. When land was finally sighted, it represented discovery of the New World. They came in contact with some exotic aboriginal peoples with whom they traded and exchanged pleasantries, we supposed; they called them “Indians” because they thought they’d gone around the world and landed in India (or was it the Indies?). Anyway, that’s how America was discovered.
That’s the story as I heard it in elementary school. Turns out I didn’t get the whole story back then; and today the story is usually told quite differently – even in elementary school
Recently, Leadership Journal ran an article warning against “being a people pleaser” at the same time I was reading Proverbs for my devotions, and ran across this one: “The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted” (Prov. 29:25). I assume the Lord was trying to tell me something; or maybe wanted me to tell YOU something?
We are in ministry; and at least part of the reason most of us “do ministry” (besides wanting to serve the Lord, of course) is that we also want to help people. Nothing wrong with that, right? And then, in addition to all that, some of us have a desire deep down to be liked; with our goal (somewhere deep down, at least) being to have the words once applied to Jesus applied to us: “And he [or she] grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”
Have you had that conversation recently, one where this line pops up: "I know you're busy - everybody is these days - but"? I know I use that line sometimes, and generally I accept that this is simply the situation: everyone is busy.
Simply the fact that I am accustomed to people saying this, and that often it doesn't bother me much, is probably one indication that I've acclimated too much to U.S. culture. I mean, I understand that we all have obligations, and that we want to use our time well. But I often fall into the trap of thinking that "busy" is acceptable, good, or a sign of a productive life.
Did you use it well? Did you get a breather, a vacation? (I’m speaking to myself as much as to any reader of this blog. I got a couple of weekends away this summer, but not a full-blown vacation. Next summer, I promise. But I’ve got to be authentic; taking time off and engaging in a proper level of “self care” is something I struggle with, too.)
One thing I DID get to do this summer was catch up on my journal and magazine reading. One piece from the January Leadership Journal (yeah, that’s right: January!; tells the story doesn’t it? anyway the piece) caught me right between the eyes; it’s entitled: "A SeaWorthy Soul: What it takes for leaders to stay afloat,” and it’s written by Bert Crabbe, pastor of a church in Long Island, NY
How dangerous is 'being comfortable'? I'm not talking about dangerously comfortable couches (though I did fall asleep on mine yesterday). Nor am I advocating taking wild risks for no reason. I'm thinking specifically about the risk and lack of comfort inherent in following Jesus into the world and sharing his story with others. This is a call which requires we move beyond our comfort zones and face the possibility of rejection or some other negative reaction.
Yesterday I watched a gracious, extremely wise Christian, Ravi Zacharias, speak at Brigham Young University. Watching him engage deep questions with grace and a vast store of knowledge, I thought, I could never do that. I'll never be as smart as him, or think quickly on my feet. Regardless, though, I too am commanded to share the story of Christ in a loving way, to the best of my capability.
Many Christians who have grown up in the church, or spent many years in it, still feel unequipped to share their faith. But we don't have to be rocket scientists to tell a story, and even a little child who's heard the story multiple times can tell someone else why people need Jesus, how Jesus answers our problem, and how to become his follower.
So, for all of us hoping people will come to our churches on their own, or that the church leaders will do the evangelistic, mission-minded work, this command is for us too. Matthew 28:19-20 isn't the "Great Suggestion." It's a command for every follower of Jesus. "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”And if it makes you feel a bit uncomfortable or nervous at times, well, join the club.
Yep, even missionaries can feel that way. I guess that's an area we can all grow in this year!