We hear a great deal today about the pressure on the church for counseling. As a layman, I am often approached personally for counsel, and I've come to a number of conclusions about making it effective.
Probe for the True Motive
The first thing I want to know when someone comes to me is motive. Why are they really there? Are they coming for counsel, or just for contact? Some people come supposedly for advice, but it's just their way of getting reassurance. Others want reinforcement for their own ideas, not counsel that can help them face their problems.
For instance, a young man walked into my office one Saturday morning as I was trying to finish off the week's work. He hadn't made an appointment; he just walked in and said, "I want to tell you about myself." I felt it was my Christian responsibility to listen for at least a bit, but all he did for an hour was emotionally vomit, and I sensed he had no desire to do anything more.
I was thoroughly frank with him. "It seems to me you're more ...1