Most pastors take Mondays off, but for almost twenty years I get up on Monday mornings anticipating a full day of counseling and training at our counseling Center, IBCD (The Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship in the San Diego, California area). Often, it is not easy to get going on a Monday. I am usually exhausted from a full day of labor on Sunday and I often battle discouragement over the typical travails of pastoral ministry. The thought of counseling for several hours, which is the one thing I do which is more draining than preaching, can be overwhelming. Sometimes I think I must feel like Elijah did in 1 Kings 19 when he just wanted to give up. The last thing I feel like doing on a Monday is to spend several hours sharing the hurts and sorrows of deeply troubled people.
Recalling the Work of God
But I do get out of bed every Monday morning. As I am at my weakest point of the week, I think of Paul who declared, “For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10). Perhaps Mondays are the best days for me to counsel because this is when I am at my weakest. By God’s grace, I get my eyes off of myself and start to pray for our counselees (Phil. 2:3-4). Many of them look upon biblical counseling as a last hope with some driving more than an hour to seek help from God’s Word.
Just as the weary psalmist would strengthen himself in trials by remembering God’s past faithfulness, I remember how God has worked powerfully on Mondays in many lives through His Word (Heb. 4:12). I recall how the glory of God’s grace in the gospel has worked in spite of my weakness.
We have seen separated couples reconciled. We have seen sin repented of and forgiveness granted. We have even seen the lost saved by God’s sovereign grace. I remember that God’s calling on my life is to be faithful and to trust Him to bring success in counseling (Isa. 55:11).
I remember what I tell some of the counselors whom I supervise, that even though our counseling is far from perfect (we don’t always correctly identify the key spiritual issue/idol or go to the perfect text), to the extent we are pointing people to Christ through the Scriptures, our interaction with them may be the among most important and profound spiritual blessings they may receive not only this week, but in their lifetime. Also, God is glorified when He works mightily in spite of our weakness.
Equipping Others for the Work of God
Another reason I get up on Monday mornings is that I am excited about training others to do biblical counseling (2 Tim. 2:2). Most of my counseling is observed by trainees in our counseling center. Actually, the reason we do much of our counseling on Mondays (of all days!) is that the local seminary does not hold classes on Mondays, which frees up their students (future pastors and missionaries) to observe live counseling and to attend our observation discussion class. We also have observers/trainees from other churches in the area.
The primary purpose of our counseling center is not to do a lot of counseling, but to train others to counsel in their local churches. We have had students who have told us that the live observation did more to prepare them for pastoral ministry than any number of classes they attended in seminary. We also have had the joy of seeing local churches establish solid biblical counseling ministries of their own. I count it a great privilege to be able to multiply our ministry in the lives of many local churches throughout the world.
So, when Monday morning rolls around, I may initially groan about my physical and even my spiritual weakness, but I will get out of bed anticipating what God will do for His own glory through His Word in the lives of our counselees and trainees. Time and time again, I have been amazed to see Him use my “weakest” state and seemingly “foolish” choice of days to confound me and my counselees with the glories of powerful gospel change.
Join the Conversation
When you’re exhausted, what motivates and empowers you for ministry?