Reducing Pastoral Counseling Risks

One of the “wet blankets” that may hinder Pastoral Counseling and lay church-based Discipleship Counseling is the fear of a lawsuit. Although informal peer-to-peer ministry seems to avoid this stigma, when churches and parachurch helpers move into a more formal pastoral counseling role, the risk factor may come up. How can these fears be addressed? How can the counselor take wise precautions?

Adopt and ethics statement

Although professional code of ethics documents are more detailed than needed and are biased with secular values and professional policies, the Pastoral Counselor can adapt and use a policy document. Here is an audio lecture on ethics by Dr. Cry Lantz:

http://gfirecovery.com/MP3/Cary_Lantz_ETHICS.mp3

and a sample document: Ethics Policy

In formal personal ministry, have a second person present or nearby for accountability (for the benefit of the counselee and the counselor).

Use relevant forms

When forms such as Informed Consent and Waiver of Liability are used, this documents that the counselee agrees to non-professional, non-secular, Christian personal ministry sessions. These forms should be signed and kept with the client’s case notes. Here are sample documents that can be edited:
Informed Consent Form sample
Waiver of Liability sample

Get insurance coverage

If you’re doing formal ministry (appointments, goals, secure notes, donations received, etc.), a liability policy is reassuring and also affordable (relatively speaking). Consider this agency that covers pastoral/dicipleship counselors for about $100 or so per year. (800) 421-6694
https://www.americanprofessional.com/covered-professions/clergy-pastoral-counselors/

As the apostle Paul admonished Timothy, let’s minister with integrity and confidence:
“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:6,7).

Motivational Gifts

The topic of spiritual gifts can be a beneficial aspect of pastoral ministry. The teaching context would include 1 Peter 4:10,11, Eph. 4:11-12; and 1 Cor. 12-14.
Personal discipling/ counseling could facilitate the disciple’s appreciation, recognition and deployment of his/her gift(s).
A model that I have found very helpful over the decades considers the seven gifts Romans 12:3-8 as “motivational gifts.” In other words, each of us as believers has one of these seven gifts as a primary motivational gift. With that motive/orientation you may have one or more “ministry gifts”… and the use of these abilities may sometimes show up in a “manifestation gift.”
Here are some resources that unpack this approach:
(click the link on each of the seven for more detail)
An online (and downloadable) survey is at:
Books using this model include:
And note Charles Stanley’s sermons on the seven (motivational) spiritual gifts :
If the discipler appreciates the importance of spiritual gifts in life and ministry, he may discover this topic to be more scriptural and beneficial than the popular four personality categories (as used in the DISC profile).
JBW

Victorious Christian Living

by Dr. Lewis Gregory

We hear the phrase victorious Christian living often but I’m not sure very many people know what it really means, much less how to achieve it.

Raising the bar: I once thought the normal Christian life involved much failure and defeat. After all to err is human. And all God expects from us is to do the best we can, because He understands our weakness. But when we die and go to Heaven then everything will be OK. Wrong! It may sound nice, and even be comforting when we consider our future. But as one man said, “how does this help me in the ugly here and now?” It doesn’t!

THE SOURCE OF VICTORY

Such a life of failure and defeat is not indicative of God’s heavenly kingdom. And it’s certainly not victory. That is why Jesus told us to pray that His kingdom would come here on Earth as it is in Heaven. Once you receive Jesus Christ, God’s kingdom is within you, because the Kingdom of Heaven is the realm of God’s presence. But it is all in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the victor, He is the conqueror, and He is the triumphant victorious king. Hallelujah!

Heaven on Earth, that’s the life and the victory that Christ offers. We can live victorious because of the Victor Jesus Christ who has conquered Satan, death and hell. Jesus is victor over all things. Thus we can be victorious over all things through Christ Jesus our Lord-our indwelling king.

WHAT IS VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN LIVING?

Consider some biblical terms that describe victory in the NT:

Strong-in the Lord-Ephesians 6:10,
And yet we are told in Isaiah 33:23 that “The lame take to prey.” 2 Corinthians 12:10, Matthew 26:41, Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

courtesy of https://www.sourceministries.net/

Continue reading this article…

Exhaustion and Depression

“But he [Elijah] himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (1 Kings 19:4).

In the pastorate, the fall is usually a busy season, which rolls into the joys and challenges of Christmas programs and activities. The holidays can also trigger some depression. Sometimes this is due to comparing our families and circumstances to the ideal, or maybe it’s due to exhaustion—physical and psychological.

Our devotional and biographical heritage reveals that burnout can also be an opportunity to discover–in a new and deeper way–how God’s strength can be perfected in our weakness. As the apostle Paul testified,

“For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead…” (2 Cor. 1:8,9 emphasis added).

For more on the “not I, but Christ” illumination, see Hudson Taylor’s testimonial letter here.

For an article that gleans practical suggestions from the account of the prophet Elijah, see “When You’re a Pastor Who Suffers from Depression: What the story of Elijah (and psychological research) tells us about how to cope.” By Stephanie Dyrness Lobdell. It’s at the CT blog here:
http://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2017/december-web-exclusives/when-youre-pastor-who-suffers-from-depression.html?

Taking Time To Rest

by Chip Ingram  (reposted)

You might be overworked, overwhelmed, and overcommitted if:

  • You can’t remember the last time you took a nap without feeling guilty…
  • You’ve bumped into someone at church and wanted to get together, but didn’t have room in your schedule for the next six months…
  • Your family meals together consist of McDonald’s drive-through on the way to several activities during the week…
  • You live from one “to-do list” to the next with the illusion that someday, in some way, things will slow down and then you’ll take that time to build relationships and serve God. But that someday never comes.

I used to live this way 30 years ago. Until one day, my doctor looked me in the eye and said, “Chip, you’re either going to die a young man, or you’re going to learn how to live very differently. You live at a pace and at a level that will kill you if you don’t change.”

Continue reading: Livingontheedge.org

How God Reveals His Faithfulness in Our Lives

chip_faithfulness

Whether we’re conscious of it or not, we all believe in someone or something to “hold us up” inside. When that person or thing comes through for us, then life is good! But when that person or thing doesn’t come through for us, then we experience a sense of anxiety, dissatisfaction, and ultimately despair.

But the truth is, there isn’t anyone or anything that will come through for us 24/7 – except for God Himself.

Continue reading and watch a video clip here.

by Chip Ingram  (reposted from LivingontheEdge.org)

 

The Risk of Pastoral Burnout

wilson

Burnout Main Reason for Pete Wilson’s Resignation
From Cross Point Church in Nashville

On Sunday morning, Wilson announced his decision to the congregation. In a video of the announcement posted to Cross Point’s website, Wilson shares, “We’ve said that this is a church where it’s okay to not be okay, and I’m not okay. I’m tired. And I’m broken and I just need some rest.”

The main reasons he shared for leaving were being tired, “leading on empty” and neglecting some things that should have been prioritized. Wilson was diligent to assure the congregation that he is for the church and wishes them to continue in the vision of “loving the unloved.”

continue reading…
reposted from Church Leaders.com


One of the lessons about avoiding–or recovering from–burnout is to appreciate and appropriate the Rest of the Gospel.

Finding Soul Rest, By John Woodward

Friends who went camping described their enjoyable get-away. When I asked if they slept in a tent or trailer, they told me that they used hammocks. They tied the fabric between trees, suspended above the ground–a comfortable way to relax and get a good night’s sleep.

What a picture of rest. We need times of rest for our bodies, but we also long for a rest for our souls. Like the Galatian Christians, many have “begun in the Spirit” (have been saved by grace), but are trying to be “made perfect by the flesh” (Gal. 3:1-3). The result is that we serve God with self-effort and end up exhausted.

Martha lapsed into this common syndrome, however well-intentioned. You recall that Jesus and his disciples were staying with His friends, Martha, Mary, and Lazarus:

“Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’ And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her'” (Luke 10:40-42).

Continue reading…