God’s plan and will for His children are good, pleasing, and perfect. Unfortunately, this is a fallen world, and His children are not exempt from sin or its consequences and victims. In the ranks of the faithful, problems do exist. Pretending it doesn’t smacks of the hypocrisy that Jesus despised during His time on earth. After all, He Himself said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33). The way to solve problems is not to sweep them under a rug, but to address, resolve, and work through them. In this regard, Christian counselors are needed more and more in our churches.
Counseling is no longer the sole responsibility of pastors now that many churches have grown big, with membership in the hundreds and thousands. And it’s just as it should be, because God’s design for the church was for members to minister to one another. If you want to find out how to become a Christian counselor so as to be better equipped for service, there are several things you should do.
Determine your calling. As with other areas of ministry, you must seek guidance and direction from God through prayer, meditation on His Word, and counsel from godly leaders. To become a Christian counselor, you must have an ongoing committed personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. It would be helpful to also have experience serving in ministry, particularly in capacities where you deal with people, use communication skills, discernment, compassion, and analytical skills. Exercising these skills in ministry, although not always necessary, will serve to hone your calling and your area of specialization.
Grow in Christian character. The study and training to become a Christian counselor takes years and can be a lengthy process. In the course of that study and training, you must mature as a Christian. Counseling is an emotionally taxing, challenging process, and you have to have a strong spiritual backbone to give your best to people who need it. People who approach Christian counselors are those who want biblical guidance for their problems, and much of your credibility and authority as a counselor will come not only from a diploma but most especially from your own life.
Get training, education, and a license. There are many counseling trainings available for church workers who minister to people. This is called lay counseling, and you should join these trainings to be better equipped for ministry. However, be careful to identify yourself as a lay counselor to distinguish yourself from someone who is licensed. Lay counselors are not necessarily less effective than licensed ones, and there is definitely a place for them in the body of believers.
You would do well to get a Bachelor’s degree in Biblical counseling from a reputable seminary or bible school, find an area of specialization, and pursue higher studies all the way up to a Doctorate degree if the Lord leads you. Depending on what country you’re in, you are likely to require a license to practice in a professional capacity.
Use your training and skills to help others. This should be obvious, given that you went into counseling to minister, i.e., to serve. But experience enhances a person’s skills in dealing with people’s problems, hurts, and issues, and the more you help others, the better a counselor you will be. Never lose sight of your chosen career as a vocation, a calling, not just an occupation.
Deciding to pursue a life in ministry is a commendable thing. Following the above steps on how to be a Christian counselor will set you on a path that will greatly benefit the body of Christ and the church. God will use you to minister grace and healing to His people.