By Kristin Schultz
One of the jobs (and joys!) of a pastor is to provide spiritual guidance and spiritual counseling to those who need it or ask for it. Because we live in a sinful world, Christians experience the same struggles and pain as non-Christians. The difference, of course, is that we know we have victory over sin, death, and the power of the devil because of Jesus, who defeated evil.
While we are more than conquerors in Christ, many people still get stuck in grief, hardship, family issues, unemployment situations, health crises, and financial struggles. It is in these times that you may be called into pastoral counseling or to provide spiritual guidance.
Pastoral Counseling and Spiritual Guidance for Brokenness
God created us to be in right relationships—relationship with him, relationship with others, and relationship with the world around us. Most often, when people are looking for spiritual guidance or counseling, they are experiencing broken relationships. People may feel lost and far from God. People may be dealing with broken relationships with family members, co-workers, church members, or friends. People may be feeling the effects of a broken relationship with their money, work, or health.
Sometimes this brokenness has been a long time coming, while other times life seems to shatter in an instant. No matter the circumstances, broken relationships can create a crisis of faith, and in those moments, God’s Word speaks words of restoration, healing, and encouragement.
Extending the Spiritual Guidance Session
Parishioners or their family or friends often come to you wanting to talk and receive spiritual guidance. People want to know where to find God in the midst of their troubles. God’s Word is full of promises and encouragement to share.
Prayer is another powerful tool in pastoral counseling. Praying for a person’s unique situation and reassuring that person that he or she can pray to our heavenly Father about anything, at any time, for any reason is an additional source of encouragement.
After meeting with individuals, it is helpful to send them home with a physical reminder that God loves them and has restored them through Jesus. While there are many secular books and resources available (and many of them can be helpful), you are called to share the comfort of the Gospel and show people how Jesus speaks into their pain or questions. Scripture-based spiritual guidance books and cards can be the perfect way to encourage someone long after that person has left the office.
Spiritual Guidance Books for Every Situation
Since you often don’t know in advance why someone wants pastoral counseling or spiritual guidance, it’s important to keep resources on hand to give to people in your care. And while every person’s situation certainly has its own nuance, there are common problems that nearly everyone struggles with and that you can speak to and provide resources for.
To that end, it’s smart to keep books and Scripture cards on hand so that you (or your counseling team) can have resources ready at a moment’s notice.
You might also keep an extra supply of Bibles, prayer journals, or devotions at the ready for people you talk to and counsel.
At some point in their lives, everyone needs pastoral counseling or spiritual guidance. Combining compassionate, Christ-centered counsel with prayer and resources for ongoing encouragement lets people know that you care about them. Most important of all, Jesus cares about them and promises to be with them and love them.
You are welcome to copy this article for one-time use when you include this credit line and receive no monetary benefit from it: © 2023 CTA, Inc. Used with permission.