We have a tendency to emphasize size and numbers; assuming that ministering to an individual is considered somehow less of a ministry than preaching to a capacity crowd under the glare of video cameras. We forget that a society or community is no more worthy than the individuals constituting it. An architect may design a mansion which calls for a million bricks. A mason while building it, cannot use a thousand bricks at a time, or even ten bricks at a time, but just one. When it comes to building God's church, as in building a mansion, you have to deal with ONE at a time. One is the most important number, we have to care about. Jesus, for all what we know, did preach to crowds, but personally built up only a small number of people. This he did not do twelve at a time, or even three at a time, but one at a time. People are complex. They can be influenced in a mass movement but to build them you need one-to-one impartation.
There are people who think that counseling is a waste of time. There are pastors who think that preaching is the one and only method of building up people. Others have the idea that since the Bible has all the answers, counseling is redundant at best and destructive at worst. But we have to understand that the ministry of counseling in not a replacement for any other form of ministry. It is an essential ministry in its own right within the church. In the first century church, which we all consider as the model for all time, the ministry of individual counseling was on an equal par with the ministry of teaching and evangelizing. These activities were not considered as the special responsibility of "specialist counselors" or "superstar " leaders; they were done by ordinary believers working, sharing and caring for each other. The church was not only an evangelizing, teaching, disciplining community, it was also a healing community; healing not only the physical illness, but also mental wounds and illness.
Counseling is way of helping people. It seeks to stimulate personality growth and development; to help individuals cope more effectively with the problems of life, with inner conflicts and with crippling emotions; to provide encouragement and guidance for those who face losses or disappointments; and to assist people to free themselves from self-defeating life patterns. In addition, the Christian counselor seeks to bring people into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, so that they first become disciples of Christ and then disciplers of others. It is the solemn duty of every pastor to be willing to help others on an individual basis. It need not necessarily happen in a formal counseling situation though such sessions are very valuable. It is the experience of every pastor that people will bring their problems to them. Therefore, for a pastor, counseling is not an option. The choice is not between counseling and not counseling but between good counseling and bad counseling. This responsibility rests not only with the pastors alone but also with every spiritually mature member of the church.
Jesus has two things to offer. The first, according to John 3:16 is eternal life, and the second according to John 10:7 is abundant life. Many of us are sure that we will have eternal life in heaven. But how many of us can say I am experiencing abundant life on earth? It is Jesus' offer to anyone who will have it. A counselor helps individuals to experience this abundant life in their lives. Many believers do not need such help. But many others do. The ministry of a counselor is to such people. It is a one-to-one ministry. In spite of all its short-comings, it is a very effective and blessed ministry. It is my prayer that in these days more of us became aware of the benefits of this wonderful ministry and prepare ourselves prayerfully to be used of God this way. In fact, through this ministry we are extending divine blessing to others after the pattern of Jesus Christ. It is for no other reason He is called the "Wonderful Counselor".