Thursday, September 4, 2008

why i should never do counseling...

sometimes, when i decline to accept a counseling appointment, people make the mistake(s) of thinking that i'm either [A]too busy, or [B] too self-important to do such "low" work.

people who know me, however, know that - while i am very busy - i'm really not too busy to talk to people...nor am i particularly enamored with my own significance.

no, the real reason that i don't do much counseling (and try, actually, to do none) is because i'm afraid of doing any damage to the counsel-ee.

this isn't to say that i'm so spectacularly unskilled as to harm someone through bad advice...just that i'm not a natural counselor. i'm wired very differently; and, my wiring in most cases provides the exact WRONG kind of interaction with hurting people.

let me further explain...

when someone comes in with a problem or an issue, i typically see a solution quickly. i can't help myself from offering my opinion. the force of my personality and the force of my opinion begin to get larger in the room. usually, by this point, my inner a-hole-o-meter is sounding huge alarms and i know it's time to end the session.


if that person doesn't follow my counsel, and - as a result - stays "stuck" in the same situation they are forced to live with the knowledge that they have 'rebelled' or 'cheated' or whatever...

this makes them very, very shy around me...

which wouldn't be so bad except that the only place they typically see me is at church

so they get shy around church
and, often, project the feelings and perceptions they have about me onto God
from whom they then begin to feel an even greater distance

and so they quit church
quit jesus
and stay miserable

because i counseled them.

sound a little over the top?

i wish it were. in 13 years of professional ministry i've seen this particular pattern repeat itself many, many times.

some of you might think that a good solution would be for me to become a better counselor. truth be told, i am a much better counselor than i was...but i just don't have it in me to get involved this deeply into the personal lives of strangers. God has given me the wisdom to understand that i'm not made for counseling in that way, and that i actually do people a disservice when i function out of my gifting.

honestly, whenever i get together with someone i get so attached to them so quickly that i can't help but care deeply about how things will turn out for them. but that kind of care is often invasive and uncomfortable because we don't really know each other. it feels smother-y and weird for them.


if you've ever wondered why i try and avoid counseling appointments, now you know.

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