February 21, 2008
In the middle of Jesus’ direct teachings, he said, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12, New International Version) Often to us this is a most powerful reminder of the kind of high standard that we hold anyone—but ourselves—against in our daily living and in our relationships. Indeed, the best way often to know the “right” way to treat others is, simply, to ask ourselves how we would have liked to be treated if we were in a similar situation. As we aspire to become a “helper”, or a helping professional, I understand that the question of what kind of counselor I would wish to have if I were the client is an important one to reflect on seriously and carefully. I believe that the answer to this question will then shed light on the kind of counselor that I myself wish to work towards becoming and will provide a sound basis for me to examine my strengths and weaknesses. In Isaiah 9:6 a prophecy about Christ the Lord our God calls Him the “Wonderful Counselor.” Our God, to me, is the perfect counselor. When I was a student teacher I was constantly observed in the classroom by a supervising teacher. I would be extremely nervous, feeling that my every move and every word I spoke was under scrutiny. Being distraught over this, the Lord set me free by reminding me that He was the ultimate “supervisor”, who watched me more closely than any human supervisor. Yet, strangely enough, imagining having to teach a class in front of this all-powerful God, I did not feel at all the nervousness or tenseness that I felt in front of my human “boss”; instead I was overwhelmed with peace and an assurance that God knew all my faults weaknesses, yet he supported me and accepted me fully in Christ. This experience surfaced in my mind when I thought about the kind of counselor that I would want, one who does not scrutinize me to bring me down, but one who accepts, supports, and builds me up in truth.
In other words, I look for a therapist or a counselor who demonstrates the likeness of Christ, manifesting the communion of the Holy Spirit, in qualities that are the fruit of the Spirit: kindness, goodness, patience, gentleness, love, joy, peace, faithfulness, and self-control.
The therapist has to be faithful—honest, true, genuine at heart, one who would not betray and one who keeps their words. He or she, being faithful to Christ, will not deceive to make me feel good, but is able to help me recognize my shortcomings, my needs for improvement, and areas where I have failed. Faithfulness is associated with trustworthiness; I look for a counselor who I can trust to be looking out for my well being, not just to make money out of me, and who will keep strict confidentiality of my personal information.
Kindness is being compassionate towards human suffering and struggles, and having the wisdom and humility to empathize with weaknesses that the therapist herself does not necessarily share. Kindness is acceptance and understanding without judgment, and true kindness I believe can only come when a person has experienced and understood the grace of God in Christ in their own life. Kindness is very close to love because it “rejoices with those who rejoice, and mourns with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). I hope to have someone who is kind enough so that I will not fear to share my pain, my shame and fears, and my weaknesses.
It is not enough to me for the counselor to be just kind; they have to be good as well. If a counselor is all acceptance and understanding without differentiating good from evil, or right from wrong, then ultimately I believe they will be of little help to me. I would like my counselor to possess a deep sense of goodness, who “does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth”, so that...