I was an Eclectic Counselor Yesterday

Yesterday, I had an enjoyable and very helpful discipleship counseling session with a brother in the Lord over the lunch hour. God in His providence linked us up a few months ago because we both tend to struggle with unhealthy perfectionism and its oft-accompanying self-focused depressive tendencies. He did not know this when he asked if I was willing to counsel him. Perhaps he would have gone elsewhere. Nevertheless, after our edifying time in Psalm 77, it occurred to me how three other influences melded together to help make that time of Bible study so profitable, at least for me, the “counselor” (I may be presuming it was equally helpful to him). Let me describe our eclectic session, which was influenced by others whose writing has recently impacted me in some way.

  1. Our time together was guided by something I picked up last year in David Helm’s One to One Bible Reading (I will not say any more about this book except that you should get it and that I have only begun to apply what I’ve learned). This book may change my counseling methods more than anything else I’ve read lately. We’ll see. So what did we do? We read Psalm 77 out loud and interacted with the text for about 40 minutes.
  2. Psalm 77 was a homework assignment suggested by David Murray in Christian’s Get Depressed Too (a helpful little book that I will say much more about in coming days). Anyway, as we had previously meditated on the Psalm in our personal times with the Lord we noted Asaph’s raw honesty and repeatedly asked him questions like: Where is your thinking off-base, self-focused? How did your false thinking patterns affect your perception of life’s events, which in turn negatively affected your view of God? What was your turning point? What shifted you from depressive self-pity to joyful God-centeredness? We also noted that Asaph’s cries for God’s help are not marks of unbelief as much as they are demonstrations of faith (raw and feeble as it is sometimes)—a faith that clings tightly to God in times of anguish and trouble.
  3. And it was only that morning, after my personal Bible reading, that I had read a few chapters in Joe Thorn’s Note to Self and was graciously smacked between the eyes by his chapter on self-pity. Little did I know the words that impacted me so greatly in the morning would ring in my ears throughout the day!

It’s interesting how the Lord, in His gracious providence, brings other “counselors” into our lives through the people we meet and the books we read. Isn’t it?

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