Insights from a Counselor’s Life
Proverbs 16:9 "The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps."
Occasionally people will ask me what I do as a Biblical Counselor and what a typical day looks like. That is impossible to answer because every day is different. I am giving you a snapshot of what happens in just one random weekday in my life. If you are wondering what it is like to be a Biblical Counselor, maybe this will give you some insights.
6:00 a.m. - A text message arrives, startling me out of a deep sleep. It is from a a young woman I am counseling through a very difficult divorce situation. She is having second thoughts as she considering returning to an unrepentant abusive husband. I remind her of the things we have discussed in our sessions. She just needed to know I was praying for her. I don’t mind waking up early. Biblical Counseling is intensely relational and i avail myself 24/7 (with a few appropriate boundaries set.) It is my ministry.
6:15 - I can’t go back to sleep even though I had planned a morning off. I get up and head downstairs for the things that are essential to the beginning of my day:
*Ipad with Logos Bible software
7:30 - After prayer and Bible reading, I start checking emails. I see several that will need to be answered today. I get started so that I can finish them by the end of the day since it is a three day weekend and I want to spend the time with my family. But wait - wasn’t this supposed to be a morning “off”? I don’t mind the emails. It is my ministry.
I spend some time throughout the morning with my daughters who are both at home working through some school work. I grab the moments with them off and on all day so that we stay in communication. My girls are very independent (almost 17, and 19) but they also enjoy time with their mom. We talk about every topic you can imagine and then we go on with our days. I love time with my kids. It is my ministry.
By noon, I am headed to my office at the church. There are counseling appointments to prepare for because they begin right after school. Teenagers need late afternoon appointments due to school schedules. I am privileged to serve many teenage girls. It is my ministry.
As I am preparing (pulling possible homework assignments for the girls who are coming that day, reviewing my notes from prior sessions) my pastor asks to speak with me. We spend about 45 minutes talking through something that came up and needed more clarity. I did not plan for this distraction, but my pastor is really no distraction at all. It is my ministry.
2:00 - Back to the counseling prep. The phone rings. A woman is seeking counseling for her depression. We get acquainted for a few minutes on the phone and make an appointment for next week. I hang up, and pray for her, asking God to protect, encourage, and comfort her while she waits to see me. These phone calls are often the beginning of God-ordained relationships for the purpose of serving others with Gospel-centered care. It is my ministry.
I get distracted by a text message sound. It is from my daughter who attends the local college. She is excited to tell me about a good meeting she had. I then text my younger daughter, just to check in. She’s fine, she says. Contact with my children is no distraction at all. It is my ministry.
2:30 - Back to the counseling prep. I get distracted by the “ding” of my Facebook messenger, and I check it. It’s a woman from my church asking to get together to talk over some concerns of hers. I write back, and we set a date for coffee tomorrow. It really is no distraction at all. It is my ministry.
2:50 - Back to the counseling prep. I get distracted again, this time by my dad calling. I always answer him if I am not in a counseling session because I am his primary helper. He doesn’t understand “wait until I am not so busy,” so I pick up the phone. He is just lonely and wants to tell me about his day. I listen and remind myself to keep a grateful heart that I get the great privilege of tending to my elderly father in this season after the death of my mom. This “distraction” is really no distraction at all. It is my ministry.
A text from my husband comes in - “what are we doing for dinner?” “I have no idea,” I answer. He says he will go to the store to pick something up. He’s great like that - he and I both work hard all week and we share the load. He does laundry every day. Yes, I am a blessed woman. Hearing from him is no distraction at all. It is my ministry.
3:15 - 15 minutes left before my first teen counselee arrives. Final prep is done, and I’m ready. After a cup of coffee and a quick check of my Facebook feeds. There is a question posted on my business page, so I take a minute to reply to it. I enjoy connecting with people from all over the globe. It is my ministry.
I get a text from a close friend. She would love to meet for coffee this afternoon. I tell her that today is my “marathon counseling day." I stay late to see all the teen girls I am counseling once a week. So we make a breakfast date instead for tomorrow. I purpose to intentionally make time for my friends through the week. They don’t realize this, but they are a critical part of my ministry. Without them, I would be way too serious, too self-focused and lose perspective. They sharpen me, laugh and cry with me, and let me in to their lives and I love them dearly. There is always time for friendship if we choose it. I choose it. Friendship is no distraction at all. It is my ministry.
I say a prayer for my counselees who are about to walk in. I ask The Lord to set me aside so that it is only the Spirit Who is the true Counselor. I ask for wisdom, insight, and discernment. I ask for clarity. I ask for these young ladies to have courage to be honest with me, knowing that they possibly won’t be. It’s ok, I tell them, God is patient and because of His Spirit in me, I can be patient, too. Secrets that result from shame take time to surface. I pray that they will surface so that we can apply The Gospel and God’s Word and watch Him change their hearts. He will. In His timing, not mine. Prayer is essential. It is my ministry.
3:30 - 7:30 - Three back to back counseling sessions. This is not how I schedule the rest of the week - I would not have the stamina for that much intensity more than once a week. Counseling is intensely draining and nobody can withstand more than a reasonable amount of sessions in any given week. Being involved in this front lines kind of ministry is hard on one’s own soul without proper time management and perspective. Without the Holy Spirit, I would not do what I do. I am not smart enough without Him. He speaks clearly in the sessions, and a little more progress is made in all three hearts. As we counsel, I hear myself say things that I, too, need to hear and apply in my own life. I am sure to offer an appropriate amount of transparency with my counselees, but not so much that I am making this about “me." I am, after all, a sinner just like them. I have many of my own struggles and we can always relate. We all agree to meet again next week. God has once again amazed me with how He knits our hearts together as these are girls and women that I would otherwise never get to know. In my office it feels like a safe warm sanctuary to many. Only God can do that. Thank You, Jesus. (One of the girls confessed a sin she has been hiding from everybody for a year. She weeps, and I cry with her. This particular girl has become precious to me after many months of counseling together. Now God can begin His healing work in her heart. I stop right there and pray that she will clearly understand that she is forgiven in Christ.) I grow to love the people I serve. It is my ministry.
I type up some notes to reflect what we covered in the sessions, and what progress has been made. I note some things that I want to address next time. I send a follow-up email to one of the parents, asking if they could accompany their daughter to the next appointment to work through some family dynamics together. I thank her again for allowing me the great privilege of walking alongside her daughter in this season of healing from her past. I also remind her to remind her daughter to do the homework I assigned because the homework takes her to God’s Word where her true counseling happens between her and The Lord. I have been showing her how to interactively study what He has to say about her sin and her suffering. Counseling is more than just one session. It is the preparation and prayer ongoing as well as the connection and relationship between sessions. It is my ministry.
7:45 - I head home. Exhausted. Thankful. Blessed. Amazed that God would use someone like me to help others with His Word. I am just as hungry and thirsty for help from His Word as my counselees are. I end the workday in awe of The Gospel that not only saves us, but changes us in this daily process we call sanctification.
I eat a late dinner, sit down with my family who all happen to be home this night, and relax with our favorite show on Netflix. Later, I do some reading for the next book I will review. I love to research resources for counseling and mentoring. It is my ministry.
Before I go to bed, I open my laptop to look at tomorrow’s calendar. It will be a different day than today. I will be working on a new writing project, doing some social media marketing, and checking in with my Board of Directors. No counseling tomorrow - it is going to be a day that is all about the business end of running a Nonprofit ministry. And breakfast with my friend!
I also notice an email from a colleague that I want to address right away because I want to always be attentive to those who have come alongside me and have been giving me opportunities to write, speak, and promote Word of Hope Ministries online. I pinch myself again because these opportunities are not things I would have sought for myself, but I am blessed to go where God leads. It is my ministry.
My days are varied. No two are ever the same. I juggle many business and ministry tasks and somehow it all gets done with time left for family and friends. I often ask God to “multiply my time” and He is faithful to somehow do it. I can’t explain it, but I am grateful for it!
Life as a Biblical Counselor is good. God is good. It is HIS ministry.
Galatians 6:9 "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
If you are interested in learning more about the ministry of Biblical Counseling, please visit www. wordofhopeministries.com
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