Pursuing a Christian counseling degree? As future church leaders, you are destined to work with people: people of all different colors, creeds, beliefs, backgrounds, the list goes on and on. And the solemn truth of the matter is that when people enter into an equation, things become complex. Just look at Christians in the early church. Bede’s Ecclesiastic History of the English People spends a large chunk of time addressing the correct day to observe Easter. People who chose to disregard the “correct” day were in need of some specific guidance.
Unfortunately, disagreements about faith and doctrine are an inevitable part of being human. Those of you who are planning on entering the field of Christian counseling will learn this sooner than most. Not only will you be facing the very real issues presented to you by the people you are serving, but you will also be inheriting a decades-old debate about the effectiveness of biblical counseling that rages strong to this day. But no matter what kind of conflict you find yourself facing, there are a few ways to make sure that you arrive at solutions that are godly and effective.
Be Ready to Listen
All too often when we engage in a debate or discussion we are so eager to make our case that we neglect to listen to the other side. The ability to quiet ourselves long enough to hear what the other person has to say can provide valuable insight. After all, how can we change hearts and minds of people we barely understand? It’s also important to listen because it is possible that we just might learn something. Humans are fallible creatures, and regardless of how certain we are of our beliefs and positions, there will be times in life when we are wrong. Opening ourselves to other points of view may point out the flaws in our own thinking and allow us to grow.
Do the Research
Sometimes it’s much easier to listen to our mentors and church leaders and accept their expertise rather than do the research ourselves. Many of them attended seminary and are very astute bible scholars, and it certainly is wise to listen to their counsel. But when you find yourself discussing or debating doctrine or current issues relevant to Christian counseling, you will want to backup your position with more than “I’m right because my pastor says so.” It’s important to be able to speak intelligently about what you believe and be able to point to good reasons why you believe it.
It can be a harrowing experience having a debate or discussion about such personal and deep seated beliefs that come with the religious territory. Our faith is a deeply ingrained part of who we are; it can be difficult to have those foundations tested. But it’s important to remember that anger and aggression won’t solve the issue. It’s also worth reminding ourselves that it is a real, flesh and blood person we are talking to, with real thoughts and emotions. What good will it do to alienate them or hurt their feelings? Remember, just because we disagree, it doesn’t mean we can’t be kind to one another.
The discipline of Christian counseling isn’t a lighthearted undertaking. You will come into contact with numerous types of people and ideologies; it’s vital that you are prepared to meet those challenges head on. Colorado Theological Seminary has online degree programs that can provide you with the tools you need to be successful and effective in your ministry. Contact us today to learn more.