I have been counseling from Scripture for over thirty years and have been ACBC (NANC) certified for twenty years. For the past several years, I have been the director of a counseling/training center (IBCD—The Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship in San Diego County). For some time, I had been praying that the Lord would send us a happily married woman who could care for the many ladies who come to us for counsel. We also needed someone to help train women who want to learn to counsel in their own local churches. My own wife, Caroline, didn’t really come to mind as a possible solution. My observation had been that most of the women who complete their certification are more driven (“type A”) individuals. Caroline is much more laid back, which is a wonderful calming complement to my very driven personality. She would happily attend conferences at which I would speak, or occasionally quietly sit in with me when I would counsel a woman or a couple.
Then a few years ago, much to my surprise, the Lord put it on her heart to go through the ACBC certification process. She spent many hours reading, studying, and taking the exams. She then completed her fifty hours of supervised counseling under the wonderful expert guidance of Dr. Bob Somerville. For the past few years she has been counseling two days a week for IBCD, plus meeting regularly with several ladies in our church. She also has had opportunities to teach groups of women. I have been amazed at the many good things God has done. Here are just a few examples of how training in biblical counseling has impacted her life and our relationship.
1. She has found significant ministry work to perform in a new phase of her life.
Titus 2:3-4 instructs older women to encourage the young women. While it is hard to think of my lovely, young-looking wife as an “older woman,” she had completed the arduous task of training/home-schooling our three sons and was ready for a new focus in her life’s work. She has flourished in her spiritual care and discipleship ministry to ladies.
One of my fellow counselors says that as he watches the women come and go from meeting with Caroline, it is like she has many daughters for whom she cares deeply. Her sweet, quiet disposition enables her to connect with women in a very special way. They love her. I think that some would move in with us if we would let them!
2. I have seen incredible spiritual growth in her personal life.
I have known Caroline since we were 15 years old. She has always been a godly person. But her involvement in helping others has given her a renewed appetite for God’s truth. She listens to sermons and other Bible teaching with greater intensity. She meditates on God’s Word more than ever. She reads important books. She yearns to find answers from the Word of God to help the women she counsels.
I also see that the Word of God is helping her to address her own sins and weaknesses as never before. She listens to the counsel that she gives to others and is being transformed by God’s Spirit.
3. The spiritual component of our marriage is the best it has ever been.
We enjoy talking over her cases as she seeks my help in applying God’s Word to her counselees. We share insights from Scripture with one another. We pray together for the people we are trying to help.
4. We serve together as a team.
When we counsel couples, while she is careful to follow my leadership, she speaks out much more than before and has important things to say. Others are recognizing her gifts, and her opportunities are expanding. Sometimes when I get invited to speak, Caroline is also invited to speak to ladies. I knew things had really changed when a major counseling conference invited her to speak (and not me).
5. She has become my counselor.
Caroline, by nature, does not like confrontation. During the first thirty years of our marriage she almost never corrected me, perhaps thinking that this was part of being a submissive wife. As she has grown in her understanding of God’s Word, she has come to realize that part of her role as my “helper” (Genesis 2:18; Proverbs 31:11-12, 26) is to address sin in my life to which I might be blind.
While I confess that I have had to learn to receive her correction gracefully (Proverbs 9:8), I am grateful to God that she is the best example I know of someone who gently and spiritually restores the one who is caught in sin (Galatians 6:1). I know that she is on my side and that she is trying to help me to be more Christlike. My soul is enriched by her godly help.
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How has being trained as a biblical counselor changed your life and relationships?