While there is great wisdom in utilizing people with counseling licensing and experience, we often belittle the good that others can do even without proper training. Any ministry leader should be able to take some initial steps with someone in need.
All church and ministry staff leaders should be able to offer counsel to anyone in need. We don’t want to give anyone the idea that their situation is beyond anyone’s assistance. So even if counseling isn’t in the staff member’s job description, every staff member should be able to take these steps (Remember: LESS is more):
- Listen – Ask questions about what is going on and remain engaged as you listen. Don’t give facial expressions of shock or body language of disinterest as you hear the person’s story.
- Encourage – Even if you can’t provide what you consider as official counseling guidance, encourage the individual for sharing with you. Acknowledge their struggle and identify where you can. Instill belief that God can work through even this situation. If you cannot offer specific guidance, promise the person that you will get back to them by tomorrow with the next step (resource or referral).
- Scripture – Open up the Bible and read a Scripture verse as encouragement. Let them see you open the Scriptures to see where the best counsel will come from in their situation. Even if you can’t go to a passage that deals with the specific situation, have some hopeful, encouraging verses ready to go that can work in any case (Proverbs 3:5-6; Romans 8:28; Philippians 1:6)
- Supplication – Pray over the person that God would work in this situation. As you intercede, pray with hope that will serve as an encouragement to the person with you.
To recall these steps, just remember that LESS is more (Listen, Encourage, Scripture, Supplication).
Don’t feel like you have to do everything in this one session, but offering spiritual and practical hope is vital that you will point them in the right direction.