I don't have years of training in counseling. How can I deal with the multiple needs of believers in today's world? Pastors, teachers, and other Christian leaders who deeply desire to minister to the needs of hurting people, frequently voice their feelings of inadequacy in handling the myriad of problems in their congregations and groups. Many Christians are trying to overcome past issues such as abuse in childhood, broken homes, and parental addictions. Other face current obstacles such as marriage and family problems, substance abuse, depression, and phobias. As these believers turn to church leadership for counseling, we as leaders must provide biblically sound direction for them. From my own experience as a professional counselor, I have found that Temperament Therapy is an excellent tool for equipping clergy and laity to become competent counselors to the Body of Christ.
Temperament Therapy is a counseling model developed during seven years of research by the National Christian Counselors Association (N.C.A.A.), a nationally recognized association of pastoral counselors. This counseling model is based on the Bible truth that man is a created being, not the product of an evolutionary process. Research for Temperament Therapy involved five thousand (5000) individuals who were seeking help for their problems, and concluded that Temperament Therapy has a success rate of over ninety percent (90%).
Certainly a major factor in this success rate is that Temperament Therapy identifies the individual's inborn temperament through the Temperament Analysis Profile (T.A.P.), and accurately "targets" the counselee's hidden problems. The pastor or Christian worker can then share specific scriptural solutions with the counselee, working together to overcome the targeted problems according to a definite plan.
The words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30 provide a key scriptural foundation for understanding Temperament Therapy: Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Let's consider this passage verse by verse. "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (v.28). Another translation of this verse could read, "Come to me, all you who are exhausted and weighed down beneath your burden." What causes the spiritual, physical, and mental exhaustion experienced by many of today_s Christians?
1. Spiritual exhaustion results when a person spends a lifetime searching for God, trying to earn His love by following meaningless religious laws and vain rituals. When, despite his best efforts, he still lacks the peace in his soul and joy in his life that can only come from an intimate relationship with God, the person becomes spiritually weary.
2. Physical exhaustion occurs when, through his own neglect, a person drives himself far beyond his physical endurance, or when internal stress depletes his energy reserves.
3. Emotional exhaustion is the by-product of a person's efforts to perform all the right actions and abide by all the rules but, because of internal stress, he cannot withstand the pressures of his environment.
Jesus promised to give us rest from this exhaustion. We enter into His rest by obeying verse 29: "Take my yoke upon you and learn of me."
When Jesus lived on earth and worked as a carpenter, building homes would have been His main work. In those days, making yokes and fitting them to oxen was a carpenter's primary activity. Since the yokes were made of heavy wood, they had to be measured and fitted perfectly, to avoid harming the oxen. Yokes enabled the owner to steer the animals, but also helped the oxen work longer and more efficiently by preventing them from tiring under their heavy burdens. The yoke equalized the load, allowing the oxen to pull more weight with less effort.
Jesus, who fitted these yokes perfectly to animals, tells us in verse 30 that He also fits His yoke perfectly for man: "For my yoke is easy.." God has provided a place in life for every person, a well- fitting yoke appropriate for the individual_s gifts and abilities. According to the research behind Temperament Therapy, the placement of each member of the Body of Christ must fit all areas of his or her life. Taking into account our physical capabilities, spiritual maturity, and emotional makeup, Jesus calls of us into our correct, God-ordained position in the Kingdom of God.
For example, it is doubtful that Jesus would ever ask an elderly man with heart trouble to run a marathon to raise money for the needy, or require a diabetic who must eat regular meals to fast and pray for days. Physical breakdown, even death, could result. It is also doubtful that Jesus would send a baby Christian to preach the gospel on the mission field, or ask a mature Bible teacher to take a position in which he could not share his wisdom and knowledge. The consequences would include spiritual breakdown and death to the soul.
The yoke of reading and studying alone for long hours probably will not be placed on an extroverted "people person," nor would Jesus place a dependent temperament in the position of leadership and decision-making for a world-wide ministry. These conflicts could cause the Christian to suffer an emotional breakdown or even premature death. However, even though Jesus does not place heavy yokes on the believer, the individual may place himself into a wrong position and experience undesirable consequences.
Besides fitting His yoke perfectly to our physical, spiritual, and emotional capabilities, Jesus also considersour talents and intelligence. A non-musician could not glorify God by playing the church_s pipe organ; an illiterate could not glorify God by writing books. God is glorified in our lives by placing each of us into a position consistent with our temperament and abilities.
"Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me..." (v.29). Through Temperament Therapy research we have learned that, to reach and learn of Christ, the believer must have balance in his life. As the individual finds and fills his God-ordained position, he will be balanced physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Imbalance in any of these areas is a source of stress and malfunction. Additionally, there must be complete balance in the inner man for the Christian to grow and mature. If the soul is out of balance, the body and spirit will also suffer.
Out-of-control emotions, relationship problems, physical illnesses, and spiritual lethargy are the fruit produced when we choose our own yokes instead of accepting the yoke God has personally designed and crafted for each life. When we accept our perfectly fitted yoke from Jesus, we experience His joy, peace, and rest as our lives come into balance. His Word and His ways free us from life_s stress and pressures, and we become more productive for the Kingdom of God.
"...for I am meek and lowly in heart..." (v.29). Jesus had the heart of a servant, laying down His very life to set mankind free from sin_s ravages. He ministered to the total person, and as the perfect servant, Jesus desires to provide for all of our needs. As servants to the Body of Christ, we are called to minister His life to the hurting. Temperament Therapy is a tool to help the believer discover his yoke (place) in God_s plan by identifying and working with his God-given temperament, gifts, and talents. Counselees are set free to serve God joyfully and to fulfill His best for their lives.
Training in Temperament Therapy can be completed in approximately 120 clock hours. Since studying is done in your home or office, you have the flexibility to integrate training with your current ministry schedule. Temperament Therapy answers the question, "How can I deal with the multiple needs of believers in today_s world?" For clergy and laypersons who desire to be competent counselors, Temperament Therapy is an opportunity to "study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needed not be ashamed..." (2 Tim. 2:15).