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Pastoral counselling can only be beneficial if the pastor is trained to be a counselor; and few are trained properly. Taking a few courses in seminary does not qualify as proper training. Being completely well-versed in the Bible also is not a qualification. Learning how to counsel others takes years of study and years of hands-on experience. Christian based counselors would agree, I'm sure. Marital relations can be worked on by pastors because the Bible is clear on what is expected in a marital relationship. Suicidal and behavioral problems need a professional trained in the field to diagnose and treat such maladies. It could very well be a physical rather than a spiritual problem A pastor would be well-served if they recognized these differences and seek professionals to help him/her. The Bible can help in many situations but I have found that a diseased mind needs much more than biblical solutions in most cases. Every case is different. I just pray that pastors realize their limitations and point their congregation in the right direction when the need is present.
Another important aspect of pastoral counseling is that God does speak through those that belong to him. (John 10:27 "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me") Just as the bible was given to man thru man but from God. It is the word of God as he wants us to hear him. So a pastor is a valuable instrument carrying gods word when our will deafens our ears. I like to believe I know the bible well, but many times I go to my pastor for counseling. Just as I was born with sin, the temptation of those sins can become strong. (1 Corinthians 10:13) no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it". So in essence God is working through man to help man, again.
Wonderful question. In my opinion, secular counseling removes our true identity which our Heavenly Fathers intended us to follow, obey, and live by as close as we all who have come to the cross to carry our cross can be. If we participate in a service where the pastor is well educated by a reputable and truly spiritual guided Bible seminary or college, the pastor will know what steps are necessary to find the core issues. One session does not fix any situation. Siding with one party vs. The other is a negative indication the pastor may not understand the problem or will solve the issue, leaving one side alone, which may or may not be innocent. My personal experience with Christian counseling is difficult to be open with; many times I was left more troubled, wondering if the pastor was viewing the issue from a biblical or earthly perspective. This being mentioned, biblically I believe anyone who knows they are sinners should feel convicted to repent. When we fall for sin, there ought to be some indication of an action which takes place for that individual to have reacted too initiating temptation to oppress, suppress, or depress the follower of Jesus. God speaks through the bible and the sermon on the mount I believe are our emotions to feel Gods encouragement, comfort, and peace, knowing this time is only a segment we are passing through. Pastoral counseling is a personal admission to conviction, knowing God is with you by seeking His wisdom. It's up to the pastor to recognize his congregation is in need of his convictions for their healing. Our Heavenly Fathers called the pastors for convicting knowledge, they on many occasions fell, only to arise and spread the pastors experience coming to Christ. I feel we all fall and raise back up stronger than before, God has a purpose for these events, to know His love and powers which exceed beyond this life. I hope this may have given insight, but I would appreciate criticizing where I may misunderstand.
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