How I counsel, and what it says about me

How do you counsel someone who’s hypercritical and proud of his/her use of logic, perhaps even to the point of categorically dismissing certain actions or norms?

How do you counsel someone who’s always looking for an opinion to guide his/her decisions?

With quick-fix theories and thinking tools

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Public Policy Epistemology by Prof Douglass

You tell him to get off his high horse and start being actually critical – i.e. to empathetically understand how different people understand and explain the world [(B) Analysis of real world] and critique them while recognising the limits of his knowledge and the normative assumptions [(A) Values/normative theory] underlying his “logic”.

Yet, have you been empathetic in understanding this rider of presumedly high horses? Have you examined your own normative theories?

With stoic-ness and well-meaning “mind games”

You give her a non-answer and think to yourself, “That should force her to make a decision.”

“KFC? Shall we go to KFC?”

“Uhh…I don’t know. Up to you *frowns*

And you realise later that, all this while, she was merely trying to suggest a more comfortable place while letting you stay in charge.

With God.

I must admit, I’ve always found it quite strange to, you know, “pray about it” or to “go to God in prayer” until, well, until just. About an hour ago, I was trying to advise someone on how to advise someone else.

And, it was tough. Well, you know, it’s hard work trying to do this dual-advisory thing. *shrugs* Except, no, it was tough keeping my ego in check and not making it about “me” when it should be about the people I was supposed to help.

There wasn’t any dual-advisory thing going on. It was more of dual-track messaging.

  1. Be grateful how much I’m helping you, and
  2. By the way, ain’t I great at counselling? Theories, tactics, how to do it, I’m good.

I wish we prayed about it. I wish we went to God in prayer.

And, wow, what a coincidence that Speak O Lord just came on in my playlist… [Maybe it wasn’t such a coincidence xD]

Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All Your purposes for Your glory.

Teach us, Lord, full obedience,
Holy reverence, true humility;

Like I said, I’ve always found it strange to “pray about it”, to “go to God in prayer”. After tonight, I’m beginning to understand why. It’s just so difficult, for me at least, to put “me” aside and to put “other people” first.

Now that I think about it, to “pray about it” isn’t really about getting the “right” answers. It’s primarily about asking God to right my heart, to steer my thoughts and mould my speech in such a way that it’s less about “me” and more about these “other people” – these people whom I proclaim to care about and love.

Be a person whose mouth is full of life

I was trying to find resources on how to counsel and I thought this, while slightly general, can, with some meditation, be very helpful.

I quote:

So what will come out of your mouth today, death or life? “Sword thrusts” or “healing” (Proverbs 12:18)?

It will all depend on what’s filling your heart. Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart [the] mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). A critical heart produces a critical tongue. A self-righteous heart produces a judgmental tongue. A bitter heart produces an acerbic tongue. An ungrateful heart produces a grumbling tongue.

But a loving heart produces a gracious tongue. A faithful heart produces a truthful tongue. A peaceful heart produces a reconciling tongue. A trusting heart produces an encouraging tongue.

So fill your heart with grace by soaking in your Bible. Soak in Matthew 5, or Romans 12, or 1 Corinthians 13, or Philippians 2. And be very careful taking in the words of death in the newspaper, the radio, the TV, or the blog.

I tried to fill my heart with grace (haha, okay be serious) and found that Philippians 2 speaks to me most right now:

[3] Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. [4] Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4 ESV)

While I suspect this was more about how Christians should relate with and support one another, I guess it’s applicable when I interact with non-believers too.

To pray about it, to go to God in prayer, to remember that, “Out of the abundance of the heart [the] mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)

To put “me” aside, and to put God in the centre of my life.


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