Should Every Pastor Be a Counselor?
Should every pastor be a counselor?
Does that answer surprise you, especially coming from me?
What should every pastor be?
Biblically, what is the primary calling of every pastor?
According to Ephesians 4:11-16, every pastor should equip every Christian to be a one-another minister/counselor/discipler—people who speak the truth in love to one another so that we all mature in Christ.
What Prompts the Question?
I’m pondering the question again because my friend and fellow Biblical Counseling Coalition Board Member, Pastor Deepak Reju, penned a recent post at the BCC called: A New Breed: Pastors Who Love Counseling. In his post, Deepak talked about the important role of counseling pastors.
In response, another good friend, Dr. David Murray, opined that pastoral counseling specialists may imply that not every pastor should be a counselor. In A New Breed and a Dying Breed, David asked the insightful question, “Can you really call yourself a pastor without constant counseling involvement in people’s messy lives?”
My Initial Response
Here’s how I responded to David in the comment section of his blog post.
Thanks for your challenging words.
Knowing you and your ministry and knowing Pastor Deepak and his ministry, I hear you both saying “Amen!” to the same message.
When I first edited Deepak’s post for the BCC’s Grace & Truth blog, I did not “hear him” saying that it was a good thing for pastors not to love counseling. Nor did I hear him saying that the “typical pastor” should separate the personal ministry of the Word and the pulpit ministry of the Word.” I heard him urging a both/and.
Perhaps that both/and is where there is some room for discussion. Is it helpful to have “counseling pastors,” or does this “take the burden away from” “other pastors”?
Again, I think Deepak and you would agree that every pastor should be a pastor who counsels. I’ve found that an “effective” “counseling pastor” is one who:
1.) Counsels biblically
2.) Equips the saints for one-another ministry
3.) Encourages and equips the rest of the “church leadership team” (pastors, elders, deacons, etc.) for one-another ministry. In that way, the “new breed” encourages every ministry leader to be part of the “historical breed” of pastoral soul physicians…
Upon Further Reflection
I still stand by my comment to David.
However, as today’s blog post suggests, it is essential to distill the primary calling of every pastor—an equipper.
Through the pulpit ministry of the Word and through the personal ministry of the Word, God’s ultimate call upon every pastor is not simply to do the work of the ministry. Rather, God’s call is for every pastor to equip God’s people to do the work of the ministry.
As I develop in Equipping Counselors for Your Church, the work of the ministry that Paul highlights in Ephesians 4:11-16 is one-another ministry. It is speaking and living gospel truth in love so that every Christian is a disciple-maker—a person who helps others to mature in Christ.
Every Pastor a Soul Physician
So, if we changed the question, I would change my answer.
Should every pastor be a soul physician?
Biblically and historically a soul physician is someone who understands people, problems, and God’s solutions—biblically. In the pulpit ministry of the Word and in the personal ministry of the Word every pastor should be a soul physician.
Every Church a Teaching Hospital
If every pastor were a soul physician, then every church would be a teaching hospital.
People talk about the church as a hospital for the hurting.
More than that, the church should be a teaching hospital that equips every believer to be a soul physician who changes lives with Christ’s changeless truth.
Join the Conversation
Should every pastor primarily be a counselor or should every pastor primarily be an equipper?
Should every pastor primarily be a counselor or should every pastor primarily be a soul physician?
Should every church primarily be a hospital for the hurting or should every church primarily be a teaching hospital that equips soul physicians?
RPM Ministries: Equipping You to Change Lives with Christ’s Changeless Truth