Counseling Whine

From the assigned reading for PC 501, Intro to Counseling:

Jethro’s advising Moses in Exodus 18:13-27 is an early example of short-term counseling, and there are some aspects of his technique that might be considered in a modern approach to helping…Pastors are especially commissioned to care for their flock, which includes their mental and emotional health as much as their spiritual well-being.

Uummmmmm….eeeeehhhh…..errrrrrrrr….AAAAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHHH! Jethro provided Moses counseling and looked after his mental and emotional health?? No way! Counseling in the sense we understand it today is a pretty new phenomena. That doesn’t make it wrong, it can still be helpful. But puh-leeze don’t torture biblical texts to get some sort of justification for it. Second, I’m commissioned to care for my congregation’s mental and emotional well being? Where’s that in the Bible? I am to shepherd the flock but that doesn’t mean I am their psychologist. And if we’re going to lump emotional and mental health in there, why not physical as well? Maybe I should be taking some basic medical classes as well.< I am not dissing counseling in general. I think it is a valid and helpful thing and I don't even mind picking up some skills along the way. But this kind of attitude is just not helpful. It confuses theological issues and puts a burden on the pastor that he isn't necessarily called or gifted for. I'm not surprised that the article begins with a story of how the author helped someone with a sleep problem by telling her to read her husband's theology books when she couldn't get to sleep. I guess this was supposed to be funny but why should the study of God be sleep inducing? As a friend of mine said, "I study theology in order to worship God better. Theology is devotional." Exactly.

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