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Biblical Counseling and Youth Ministry

Every time we minister to students we face a variety of issues and we are giving counsel to them whether we think it’s counseling or not. Student ministry and biblical counseling go hand in hand.

So, what is biblical counseling and how do we do it well in student ministry?

  • John 15:7
Iron on iron logo, snowbird youth ministry conference


March 2025

Transcript: Biblical Counseling and Youth Ministry

All right, so my, the clock back there says 3:30, but my watch says 3:28. So we’re gonna go by snowbird’s clock, even though it’s fast. My name’s Joseph Tucker and I’m one of the pastors at Red Oak Church, which meets right here. You’re sitting in our congregation. It’s awesome. It’s a pleasure to be with you today. I’m going to be talking with you guys about biblical counseling in student ministry. And the other day, this happened this week, actually, I got a call from a mom and she was pretty upset. She said that her teenage daughter that had told some girls at school that she was gonna commit suicide. And so she was calling for some just pastoral guidance and single parent household adoptive daughter. And so she’s gone through a lot and just needed somebody from the church to come and speak some truth into her daughter’s life.

And so, I was making my way over to their house and just praying on the way over, that the Lord would give me the wisdom, the words to say that I would listen well, and be able to just speak truth into this young lady’s life. And so, I get over there and we start, she said, “Can I sit in?” Or, “How do you wanna do this?” And I said, “Do you mind if I take her on a walk?” And they live really close to a park. And so she’s like, “That’s fine.” And so we went on a walk and we walked for about two miles. And I just listened to her, just talk. And so as I’m walking alongside of her, I’m listening to her, asking questions here and there, mainly focusing on, like, trying to assess like, how serious is she? Does she even know what suicide means? Does she know what that word is? Asked what does she think? What do you think God thinks about suicide? What does God’s word say about suicide? Why does God not like suicide? She’s a smart little girl. She knows, I call her a little girl, she’s a teenager. She knows the Lord.

She has a relationship with the Lord. She’s got the mind like a steel trap and long story short, she said that as a form of escapism. Like she wanted to get out of the situation that she found herself in at school at that moment. She has no history of depression, anxiety, she’s never hurt herself. No self harm. She hadn’t taken that thought any further. She knew it was a mistake. We talked about, “Hey, you don’t wanna throw that word around. That’s a pretty serious thing.” ‘Cause then you don’t want to end up in a place that you don’t need to be. Because some people think you might need to be there because you said something like that. And so we started walking through and talking about, like what got her there? Like how did she, how did she come to that using a word like that, that’s a really permanent solution to a temporary problem.

And she, so she shared a little bit more. And so, I said, “Do you know like what the devil’s goal for you is? Like what his purpose for you is? What does the Bible say that the devil tells us to? He wants to kill, steal, and destroy, right? He wants to steal your joy. He wants you to kill yourself. He wants to destroy your life, all of your relationships. And what’s Jesus’s goal for you? What’s Jesus’s purpose for you? It’s for you to have life, abundant life, right?” And I said, “So how did that, how did all this start? Where did it lead to, come from to where you say that?” She said, “Well, one thing that I hate is when a lot of the girls… ” And she even said this, I didn’t say it. She said, it’s just middle school girl drama. And I was like, that is a real thing. It could drive you up the wall. And I said, and I commiserated with her, and I said, “Middle school is the worst.” I said, “And middle school girls are just the worst as well.”

And she agreed. But I said, “Well, good news is that middle school comes to an end, right? And it’s gonna get better. And then high school is still not great, but it’ll get better. And that also comes to an end.” And so, and we talked about why it was she got there and she said, “I hate false accusation.” And I was like, “I do too. That’s one of my biggest pet peeves. You know, when people claim you did something or say you did something.” And long story short, all of this started because she’s a Jesus freak, and she actually shares her faith and lives out her faith at school. And the girls like, make fun of her so much. They bully her. And they say like, “Why don’t you like us? Why do you hate us?” And she was like, “I love you. You’re interpreting my love as hate.” Because she’ll say things like, you’re not gay.


You know, I mean, it’s crazy. I mean, she’s living out her faith and they’re hating her for it. She’s experiencing some persecution because of this. And so I said, “Do you know who else was falsely accused? Jesus. How did he respond? Right.” And, let’s see how you were tempted to do something. You were tempted and you’re tempted a lot, right? You’re tempted in various situations in school. How did Jesus respond to temptation? How did Jesus respond to false accusation? Right? Like he submitted himself to the Father. He ran to the Father, he used the word of God as his weapon, right? So we got to talk about the armor of God. She walked through Ephesians 6, like quoted it basically. She knows the word, she needed to be reminded of. She had been, her mind had been filled with a bunch of lies, and she needed to be reminded of the truth, right? And so we walked through 1 Corinthians 10:13 as we’re walking, I had her read it. And then we just walked through that verse. It says, “No temptation has seized you, except what is common to man. And God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” And we walked through that verse, just word for word phrase for phrase, right.

And I said, “All right, here’s some homework for you.” We’re walking back to her house. I said, “I want you to tonight write down that verse, and I want you to start memorizing it. I want you to ask yourself five questions as you’re studying that one verse, what does this verse teach me about God? What does this verse teach me about, man, myself, humanity? What does this verse teach me about Jesus? Or how does it point to Jesus? And what does God want me to know because of this verse? And what does God want me to do because of this verse?” And then I gave her a book, and, it’s a book called, This Changes Everything, how the Gospel transforms the teenage years. And I was like, “This book is really cool because, it’s written by a teenager for teenagers.” So this 19-year-old girl wrote it, and, back in 2017, it’s a really excellent book, great resource. The first chapter talks about who am I? And talks about your identity in Christ, and how if you actually do try to follow Jesus, you will experience suffering. You’re actually promised that the world hated Jesus. It’s gonna hate you too.

And there’s only three questions at the end of each chapter in this book. And she’s the type of girl who would’ve stayed up all night long and read the whole book. And I was like, “Don’t do that.” I was like, “Let’s just walk through it together and your mom can go through it too.” And so we went back to the house and I told her mom everything that we talked about while she was in the room, and I said, “Am I missing anything?” And she’s like, “No.” And then so she goes to her room, I’m finishing up talking to her mom, and then prayed for both of them and then over the next couple days, followed up with her, practically suggested that she didn’t go back to school the next day just to reorient, recalibrate her brain and her mind on the Lord, and not the situation that she got herself in or found herself in at school. And then she went back to school the next couple days, had almost like an emotional breakdown at the lunchroom, went to the bathroom and recalibrated her brain on 1 Corinthians 10:13.


And then walked back out. Didn’t have to go to her teacher, didn’t have to go to her coach, didn’t go to the counselor, didn’t go to the principal’s office. And that’s an example of what biblical counseling can do, right? Is when you trust the word of God and you prayerfully prescribe the word of God to the heart of somebody who is a follower of Christ, that’s what biblical counseling can do. And so I want to talk about what biblical counseling is, right? And how we should do it in student ministry. Because the reality is, every time that we are ministering to students, we face a variety of different issues, right? We’re gonna give counsel to them whether we think we’re counseling them or not, we are counseling them, right? You might not label yourself as a counselor, but you are, right. And, because the reality is, I was in student ministry for almost 10 years, okay? And I never thought of myself as a counselor, but I give a lot of counsel. Sometimes it was not very good, right. Because if we don’t stick to the word, then we’re gonna give poor counsel.

So that’s what I wanna focus on, is biblical counseling today. So Romans 15:14 says, “I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.” The apostle Paul also says, when he’s talking to the elders at Ephesus in Acts 20:31, he says, “Therefore, be alert, remembering that for three years, I did not cease night or day to admonish every one of you.”

So that word in Romans 15:14 for instruct, and that word in Acts 20:31 for admonish is the word “Noutheteo” in Greek, which literally means to warn, exhort or instruct and can be translated as advise or counsel, right. And so, Howard Heinrich said this, “Biblical counseling is about loving people by taking the time to understand them, interpreting their life situations through the grid of scripture, confronting them with God’s framework and challenging them to engage in the put-off mind renewal and put-on dynamic of Ephesians 4:22-24.” Right. And that, we’re gonna talk about a few different definitions of biblical counseling. All of these slides also, by the way, will be on the website and the podcast later if you can’t write super fast. But we know we’re gonna face a litany of issues in student ministry, right? Problems arise every day. And so no matter what it is, when it comes to like, when a kid does something, if somebody tells you a kid does something or they tell you, that they did something, almost your immediate reaction is, why would you do that, bro? 

And, instead of saying, why would you do that? A better question is, what. What is the issue? Because a lot of times you’re dealing with like symptoms of a deeper issue. You’re dealing with fruit, right. When you’re trying to get to the root of the issue, okay? And so ask him like, what does God say about whatever that situation is? I don’t care how I feel about it, or what I think about it. What does God say about it? What does his word say about it? What would bring Jesus glory in this situation, in your life? So three simple starters when it comes to biblical counseling when you’re facing any problem. Number one, you want to address the present issue, whatever that problem is. Some people call that the presenting problem or the presenting issue. You wanna address that in hope. You want to give them hope. You want to show the relevance of the Gospel, and you wanna offer them help and hope through growth in Christ.

Those are three pretty simple, straightforward things that you can do, anybody can do, whether you think yourself a counselor or not. Now, one of my professors in seminary Stuart Scott, said, this, he said, “Biblical counseling is problem oriented discipleship.” That is the most simple definition of biblical counseling you’ll ever hear. It’s problem oriented discipleship, which is absolutely simple but profound. ‘Cause every single person I have ever been in a relationship with in a church setting, whether it be small group, right. Whether it be one-on-one or congregationally, whatever, almost every single person has sought out somebody else for counsel. Would you agree? Almost everybody, it happens all the time, right? Whether you’re, we’re gonna talk about this in a second, but whether you think like, I should have brought two chairs up here and had a legal pad, and they’re facing each other. That’s not just the only place for counseling. That’s formal counseling, right? But guess what? We do informal counseling all the time.

And student ministry is gonna be a lot more informal than it is formal. Sometimes it’s gonna be formal, and that’s just fine. There’s room for both. But if you wanna make disciples, which I hope that’s the goal of every church that’s represented in this room, is you’re gonna be counseling people. If you wanna make disciples, you’re gonna be counseling people and whatever your role is in student ministry. We need to teach our leaders how to counsel well. So I wanna run through just some random issues that I guarantee you’ve probably faced before. And these are real life examples that I faced in student ministry. A few of them I’ve just brought there to the surface here at Snowbird during summer camp, right. A lot of students come and they’re willing, they’re confronted with the Gospel for over a week, and the Holy Spirit just works and exposes sin in their heart and in their life. And they tell one of the Snowbird leaders and then eventually tell you, find out through whether it’s the discussion logs that Snowbird staff gives to your church, or whether it’s through one of your leaders talking to one of the leaders. It’s unbelievable. But here are real life examples that you can run up against and that we need answers for.

A young lady is weeping on the porch because she got raped. A young man is enslaved to pornography. Young lady is cutting, and in mental institution. A young man is struggling with gender issues and same sex attraction. A young lady is stressed to the max and struggling with anxiety so much that she’s pulling her hair out literally. A young man’s dealing with outbursts of anger and explosive temper. A kid doesn’t care about school, sports, church, friends, or life in general. A kid is struggling with growing in their faith. A kid’s struggling with persecution and following Jesus in school. A kid’s struggling with, how can I be a follower of Jesus and be cool at the same time? All of these are real life situations and examples of counseling. They need counseling. They need direction, they need guidance. So how are we going to do that? You’ve ever heard of the four C’s of parenting, like the four stages of parenting? You got the controller, the corrector, the coach and the counselor. When they’re babies, there’s a ton of kids running around camp. I asked somebody a while ago, “Is this like a kids’ camp or is this an adult retreat?” A lot of kids running around. When they’re little kids, you’re the controller. You control their environment, you control where they go. You control what they eat. You control what they touch, what they don’t touch. And then as they get older, you turn into the corrector.

You’re the person who corrects their actions and then as they get older, you turn into the coach. And, sometimes these things overlap, right? But the coach really is the instructor, the trainer. You give advice, you teach, you prompt. Then the counselor is kind of like, when they exit your house, they leave under your roof. You’re no longer controlling their environment. You don’t have to correct them as much. You’re not coaching them as much ’cause they’re older and you need to let them leave the nest. But they come back for counsel every once in a while. And so the counselor is the person who’s giving guidance and advice. So student, I realized after hearing this, that student pastors fill all four of these roles. Just think about a lock in. You better believe you better control the environment. You better set boundaries. That’s super important. But if you think about this in the light of 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness that the man of God may be complete equipped for every good work.” We need to do all four of these things, right. We need to correct, provide the scriptures. Let’s say like what Spencer said this morning, like, I thought this morning, like was worth the price of admission. Like it was a great message when Spencer held up the Bible and went like this. Don’t look at me. It’s not about what I feel or what you think.

Look at the word, right. The scripture is what corrects us. And then coaching. We need to be trained in righteousness. We need to put in some holy sweat. And then counselors, we need to equip people for life. Biblical counseling is intensive discipleship. It’s problem-oriented discipleship. It’s applying the scriptures to life. In his book, Counseling One Another, Paul Tautges, I butcher his last name all the time. I don’t know how you say it. He gives us this pretty well-rounded quote. I love this. He says, “Believers in Jesus Christ must be taught and trained to be richly and dwelt with the word of God. To live under the influence of the Holy Spirit, to be driven by the Gospel, to express dependence on God through prayer, to be motivated by love for God and neighbor, and to be moved with compassion, to help one another, make progress in the ongoing work of sanctification.” I think that is one of the most well-rounded definitions of biblical counseling that you’ll ever hear.

Now, Wayne Mack is another guy who has decades of experience in pastoral ministry and counseling. He has a pretty simple definition as well. He says it’s helping people solve their problems. It’s about discovering the cause and then applying biblical principles to help them overcome their problems and giving them the necessary tools for them to move forward in their spiritual maturity. So this definition came out of his book, A Practical Guide for Effective Biblical Counseling, utilizing the Eight Eyes to Promote True Biblical Change. Now, if you want a more formal, deeper dive into what is biblical counseling, this book is what you need to get, all right? It’s essentially an entire semester’s worth of seminary in one book. It sums up all of his experience in biblical counseling, all decades of his experience in one book. And so, just the eight I’s are, they’re gonna be on the screen for you real quick. If you’re not a book person, I’m gonna sum it up for you in less than five minutes. You don’t have to read it. Here you go. The first I is involvement. That means as soon as you get in, you come into a relationship with a person, you experience the person and the problem, you wanna show them care, loving relational care. Show them that you love them first, right? Show them some compassion. And then inspiration is the second one.

You’re providing them with biblical hope. And you’re reminding them, hey, guess what? Jesus sees you. Jesus cares about you. Jesus hears you. Jesus speaks to you. Jesus loves you. Jesus is here with you right now, right? When I was on that walk with that young lady, I told her, I said, “Hey, I’m not your daddy, and I’m not the solution to the problem. I can’t swoop in, and neither can any of the other elders at our church swoop in and provide the solution to your problem. We’re gonna always point you to Jesus, and we’re gonna point you to his word. Because here’s the reality. As much as your mama loves you and as much as I love you, Jesus loves you more. And as much as your mama cares for you and as much as I care for you, Jesus cares for you more. And as much as I know you and your mama knows you, Jesus knows you more.”

And that she just stopped walking. Like that just floored her. Just simple truths of who God is and how real and relevant he is, floored her. And she needed to be reminded of that, that Jesus cares, right? And that she needs to look to Jesus. Number three, inventory. This is gathering the correct information, right? Don’t deal with hypotheticals. Don’t deal with he said, she said, like get the facts. Deal with the facts, ask good questions, listen well. Number four, interpretation. This is where you get to know the root issue, understand the nature or cause of the problem. Number five is instruction, giving biblical guidance. What does God have to say about this problem? What does God’s word say about this problem? And then you speak that word in love, right? You don’t beat them over the head with the truth. It needs to be grace and truth mingled together. Number six is inducement which is essentially holy resolve like you’re persuading them motivating them right because the reality is they got to put some skin in the game, right. It’s not gonna change if they don’t do anything. They’ve got to actually do something. Implementation is number seven biblical inducement. It’s biblical-induced application. So you’re implementing what you learn, right? 

It’s great to have a game plan, but if you don’t put it into action, it’s useless, right? You have to actually, like, and that’s why I gave her a homework. That’s what some people call it. Some people don’t like that word. Some people call it growth projects, right? Whatever. Whatever you call it, it needs to be, the scriptures apply to life. And what she called it, and I love this, I think I might steal it from her, is Gospel homework. She called it Gospel homework, and she loved doing her Gospel homework, right? Because reality is, and there was also some dual discipleship going on in that conversation, right. Because I was teaching her how to read the Bible and how to study the Bible and ask good questions while you’re reading the text. Engage with the text. Don’t just read it and shut it like it’s a novel and put it aside. Well, that was a good book and move on, right? But actually you’re applying this to life ’cause there’s no other book like this book. It is alive and active. It’s a supernatural book.

We believe that it’s God speaking to us while we’re reading it, and we need to apply it to our lives. And then the last one is integration. That’s following up, checking in, evaluating their progress. Integrate them, if they’re not already into the church. Get them involved in the church. Point them to the church. They don’t need ongoing counseling. This is one of the things that separates biblical counseling from every other form of counseling or therapy. Biblical counseling’s goal is not to perpetuate counseling. It’s for you actually to be healthy and whole and your life to change so that you end up turning around and you start doing that to other people. It’s not to keep you in a cycle. It’s not to put you on medication so that you’re perpetually coming back for more and more and more. Right? It’s setting them free. It’s putting them in community, Christ-centered community, to where they’re living according to the word. Now, Wayne Mack is a lot older and a lot wiser than I am, but I would have included another I.

I love alliteration. The last I, I think the ninth I should be intercession, because I have a strong conviction that praying is the most important part of counseling, that it separates biblical counseling from every other form of counseling. Because the counselor himself or herself is saying, I need help. I can’t do this. I don’t know how to respond. Lord, I need you to change this person’s life. I can’t change this person’s life. I need you to give me wisdom on what to say and when to say it, when to speak, when not to speak, right? Prayer is absolutely critical for all of the I’s we’ve already talked about. And I don’t think that there’s probably any other verse that sums up the importance of prayer when it comes to counseling and prayerfully prescribing the word of God to a human heart, then John 15 verse 7 says, “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.”

This is Jesus’s words to his disciples. “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it’ll be done for you.” So when you let the words of Christ dwell in you richly, and you intercede for your counselees while pointing them to the words of life, we can trust that the Father will bring fruit out of that, because that brings him glory, right. Jesus is actually teaching his disciples at the same time that my Father is most glorified when you pray Christ-centered prayers, when you’re praying biblically, because he goes on to say in the next verse, in John 15:8, he says, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.” That’s how you know if you’re a follower of Christ. Look at the evidence, right. The fruit has been described as the fruit of the Spirit. FF Bruce says, “As the Father is supremely glorified in the obedience of Jesus, so he is glorified in those whose lives reproduce the obedient life of Jesus. The fruit of which this parable speaks is, in effect, likeness to Jesus.”

Is that not the goal? That’s what you should want as a follower of Christ, as a student pastor, as a minister, in student ministry, when you’re counseling students, when you’re leading students. Shouldn’t you want them to be like Christ? You don’t want them to look like you. You want them to look like Jesus, right. That’s the goal of discipleship. That’s the goal of the sanctification journey we’re all on, right? That’s the goal of biblical counseling, for followers of Jesus to be conformed more and more into the image of Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we all with unveiled face beholding the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” So this one massive difference right here sets apart Biblical counseling from every other form of whether it’s a 12-step program or whether it’s therapy or secular counseling or psychology or whatever. It is the goal of Biblical counseling is God glorified and that person being more Christ-like. That is the goal. You’re not gonna find that anywhere else but Biblical counseling. The aim is not behavior modification.

The aim is heart transformation. And they can’t do that by themselves. You can’t do that either. I can’t do that either, right. We’re being transformed from the inside out, and it’s not ourselves doing it. It’s all God, right. And it’s us depending on the power of the Holy Spirit who enables us to do anything and equips us all for his glory, right. So you have these two things working at the same time. The Lord does all of the work, but he also calls you to do some work. Right? He has spoken. He’s revealed himself. Zach just got to talk about worldview, right? He’s revealed himself through his creation, through his created order. He’s spoken to us through his word. He’s finally spoken to us through his son, the final priest, the final prophet, the final king, right? And so we know that he has done these things. And so guess what? He’s given us all that. He’s also given you eyes to see, ears to hear, a brain to read. He’s not gonna read the Bible for you. He’s not gonna read it for your counselees or for your students. They have to do it themselves. They got to put in some work, right? But it’s gonna be because he empowers them to do it.

So this is called grace-fueled effort. Salvation is all by grace. Right? Your sanctification is all by grace, but you’ve also got to put in some work, work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Ever heard that before, right? You got to strive, got to put to death, got to mortify, got to abstain, got to put off, got to put on. All of those things sound like action to me. You got to put in some work, right? But it’s grace-fueled effort. It’s grace-fueled obedience. We can’t do it apart from him. So one practical method that you could employ or a counselor could employ is asking the counselee instead of you just reading. Now, biblical counseling is not also you just teaching them or preaching at them. It’s a lot of listening. Be slow to speak. Right? But then ask them to read the word. Don’t just read it to them, but ask them to read it.

And as they’re reading it, like you say, hey, why don’t you turn the Bible to John 15, verses 5 through 8. Why don’t you just read that out loud? As they’re reading it, why don’t you pray for them? They don’t know you’re praying. You ain’t got to pray out loud. But you’re praying that the Holy Spirit speaks to them through His word while they’re reading it. ‘Cause He’s the only one who can open up their eyes. You can’t do that. I can’t do that. He’s the only one who can break up the hardness of their heart. This is a supernatural work. So in a very real sense, biblical counseling is supernatural work, right? A wonderful, mysterious thing occurs when the people of God take the word of God and prayerfully rely upon the spirit of God to direct our hearts to the son of God. This is a great mystery, but this is God’s plan for the church.

This is his plan A. Right? He doesn’t want us to farm out our students to secular psychologists and secular therapy and secular counseling. We are called to counsel biblically within the church. This is what we’re called to do, and he’s equipped us in order to do it, right? And now sometimes biblical counseling involves evangelism. As well as discipleship. I remember as a student pastor having tons of baptism meetings with students ’cause their parents call and say, hey, “My kid wants to get baptized.” Like, okay. The kid didn’t tell me that. The parent did. So I’m like, all right, I’ll have a baptism meeting with them. And I’m like, “Tell me why you want to get baptized.” Guess what? They don’t know the Gospel. The baptism meeting turns into evangelism. You share the Gospel with them, right? So sometimes biblical counseling is literally evangelism.

And then it turns into discipleship, right? And we have to gauge, that’s a big part of counseling, is gauging, using discernment about where is this kid at? Do they have a relationship with Christ? Do they not, right? If so, how do we move on from here? How do we disciple them well, right? Because the goal is life change. That’s what we wanna see. We got to address the heart when it comes to life change, not just their behaviors. That’s just putting a band-aid on an open wound. Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” So this is where it becomes personal. And this is how another reason why biblical counseling is separate from every other form of counseling is because, guess what, the person who’s giving the counsel has been changed by the same God, and the same word, and the same Savior. And they should be continuing to be changed, I should continually be changed by God’s word, right. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. If you don’t know the word, how are you gonna prescribe it to somebody else? You can’t share what you don’t know, right? And so we have to let the word of Christ dwell in us, richly.

Personally, we’ve got to be investing in the word. And when the word abides in you, and when you abide in Christ, and then you’ll start praying some more Christ-centered prayers, some more kingdom-minded prayers, right? And he loves to say yes to those. 2 Peter 3:18 says, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to him be glory both now and to the day of eternity.” Amen. That is what we are called to do. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly and grow. Like, the counselor and the counselee in biblical counseling are growing. We are always growing. We’ve never arrived. We never can say we know it all, right? We’re always growing in our relationship with Christ. We have to personally, consistently be growing. As we’re ministering to others, the word of God is ministering to us. The spirit of God is ministering to us, right? And here’s the reality. God will not obey for you. He calls us to obey. He’s equipped us. He’s empowered us, but he won’t obey for you. He’s already done what you couldn’t do, but he will not do what he’s called you to do. You’ve got to do it. We need to know what to communicate when we’re ministering to students. We’ve got to put some skin in the game. So to wrap all this up, how do we make sure that we are counseling biblically in student ministry? A few closing thoughts.

Number one, love. Love the person that’s in front of you. And remember, no matter what the issue is that you’re presented with, no matter what they say that they did or that they’re struggling with, remember that you were at that time one time in their shoes. Titus 3:3 says, “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves of various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.” That verse should humble the mess out of you so that you realize I am not on a high horse. I can’t be. There’s no room for pride in the counseling room, right. Like we have to realize that these people are broken just like we were broken apart from Christ. Right? And only Christ can heal a broken heart. And that’s why we need to give them hope, which is the second thing, because there’s always hope for life change because of the Gospel. I know I keep coming back to it, but 1 Corinthians 10:13, it says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.” Right? So it reminded her, hey, guess what? You think you’re the first person who’s ever had these thoughts before? A lot of other people have had those thoughts before.

I’ve personally had those thoughts before. And guess what? The Lord helped me to overcome those things. Because he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. And he’s caused you to be an overcomer. And that should give you hope that you’re not the only one who struggles with this thing. ‘Cause the enemy loves to get you to do. He loves to get you to think you’re the only one. If you tell somebody that you’ve been struggling with something, they’re gonna freak out. Because they can’t believe that you had that thought. Or you did that thing. Or you said that. Right? No. Like, this should give you great hope. Other people have faced the same things, faced the same temptation, and overcome. But guess what? Christ has overcome. He faced every temptation that we faced, and more so ’cause he never gave in to the temptation. Right? And so that’s why we should run to him and look to him, because he overcome every temptation.

And so that should give us great hope. And share the Gospel with them, Titus 2:11 through 14. The Gospel of hope. For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age while we’re what? Waiting on our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of the greatness of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, because he gave himself for us so that we would be his bride. He purchased us so he could purify us so that we would be his bride who are living for his glory. Remind them of the Gospel. And then, after you’ve loved them, after you’ve given them hope, discern the root of the issue through the filter of the word. It’s not biblical counseling if you don’t use the scriptures. Scriptures got to be involved. And then prayerfully prescribe the word to their heart. In their book, The Pastor and Counseling by Jeremy Pierre and Deepak Raju, phenomenal name, says this, personally caring for people will make your prayers more fervent, more dependent. Coming alongside of people in impossible circumstances will be a constant reminder to the pastor of his need for the God of the impossible.

This is a wonderful reminder that we should be prayerfully dependent as we are ministering to students, right? So what does that look like? Okay. Pray before, pray during, pray after. Pray before, pray for compassion. This is one of my biggest struggles as a pastor is I often fail to have empathy. I often fail to have compassion. I get convicted when I read that Jesus saw the crowds when he was tired and hungry and wanted to retreat. And he saw the crowds and it says he had compassion on them for they were like sheep without a shepherd. As we’re shepherding our students, we need to have compassion on them. So we need to pray that we have compassion, right? God can give us that. Pray for wisdom. Doesn’t it say? If you don’t have wisdom, ask for it and I’ll give it to you, right? And if we, being evil parents, know how to give good gifts to our own children, how much more does the Father know how to give good gifts to those who ask, right? 

So why don’t we pray for wisdom? And why don’t we pray for ears to hear? ‘Cause he’ll give you that. And sometimes this is you praying in the car on the way over. Sometimes this is you walking over. Sometimes somebody comes into your office, whatever it is. Sometimes you’re going to the school or it’s after a sporting event or you’re in the car with a student, taking them home, whatever it is. Pray for wisdom. Pray for compassion. And then while they’re talking, you’re listening well. But during the counseling session, this is awesome. You can still pray and you should still pray. Pray for discernment, pray that the holy spirit will guide you to the right word to give them. Not your words, not man-made wisdom but the word of God. And then when it’s over, pray to close that time, right, and pray after as well. Intercede for that person, intercede for their family, because they need that. This is where you pray for supernatural change.

This is where you pray for the word that you shared from God’s word to penetrate their heart and their mind like only his word can. And for them to apply it to their life. Last thing is, you need to understand what separates biblical counseling from all other counseling. I’ve already covered up this sporadically, but in a few points, the relevance of the Gospel is what separates biblical counseling from everything else. Because in biblical counseling, you’re giving them a biblical worldview, which you just got done hearing an entire breakout on, right? But you’re helping, when we have this framework in our minds of only the Scriptures give us a proper understanding for origin, meaning, morality, and destiny, then we are actually giving them great hope. This is a biblical hope. This is a hope that’s alive, right? And so the relevance of the Gospel to their situation, it’s always relevant. There’s never a time when Jesus’s miraculous birth and his perfect life and his sacrificial death and his victorious resurrection is not applicable.

There’s never a time when that’s not true, right? And then the scriptures point them to the word. This is what separates biblical counseling from other counseling. The scriptures are alive and active, not in the other book. Now, I’ve got a table back there full of resources, but they are saturated with the word, saturated with experience, right? So yeah, resources are good, but there’s nothing like the word. Everything else pales in comparison, because in the scriptures, what did Peter say in his epistle? We have everything we need for life and godliness because of his word. And then Christ-centered hope. Because Jesus is alive. He’s a resurrected Savior. We need to remind them of that reality and point them to Christ and end the counseling by giving them goals, homework, Gospel homework, growth goals, pointing them to Christ’s likeness. I’m striving for it. They’re striving for it. Hey, join me in it. Let’s do it together.

I’ll come alongside of you. Let’s do it together. But don’t try to do it by yourself. Don’t be the only counselor at your church. Don’t be the only one pouring into students, like do it. Guess what? I had a conversation the next day with that young lady’s small group leader. Because do I need to be going to her house every single day and walking with her around the track? Nope. She needs to have an older female doing that with her, walking alongside of her, someone who’s just right above her in the relationship with Christ and in the sanctification journey. We shouldn’t be counseling by ourselves either. Group counseling is awesome. If you can pull in somebody else with you, that’s fantastic. When you can do it together, it’s incredible. And then God glorifying fruit. Disciples making disciples. This is what is the most enjoyable thing in student ministry, is when you’ve poured into someone, and then years later, you see them making disciples. Right? 

If you’ve counseled somebody and you’ve seen the word transform their life, and them apply the scriptures to their heart, and the Holy Spirit has renewed their mind and their heart and their life has been transformed, and then they share that with somebody else, guess what you’re doing? Fulfilling the Great Commission. You’re making disciples. That’s awesome. Right? This is why biblical counseling is awesome. It’s given to us by the Lord, and we should be doing it. We should be equipped ourselves, and we should continually be growing and learning and equipping others to do the very same thing. You don’t have to be a professor in seminary or have a seminary degree to be a biblical counselor. You got to be born again, know the Lord, love the Lord, be in the Word, and apply it to other people’s lives. Pretty simple when you boil it down. Like I said, a lot of resources back there. Check them out. Take pictures of them.

Please don’t take them away from the table so other people can take pictures of them. And also, ACBC is something I wanted to point you to. If you want an online, if you wanna go deeper and you wanna be more equipped, ACBC is Association of Certified Biblical Counselors and they have a training that you can go through. It’s not super expensive, but super, super well done. A lot of videos, a lot of resources, articles, podcasts. They have a search bar on their website that you can type in any issue. You think of the issue, type it in. Just a ton of resources come up. You can listen to people, listen to certified biblical counselors who’ve been doing it for decades and how they’ve walked people through like gender dysphoria. How they’ve walked people through like disassociative identity disorder, whatever, right. Things you’ve never even heard of before and see how they apply the scriptures to people’s lives.

April 18, 2024

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