Last week I had the privilege of speaking at the Association of Biblical Counselors Conference in Texas. I’ve been to many conferences but this was the first one where the vast majority of attendees were counselors. And the overwhelming impression I had at the conference, and memory I still have, was that of humility. From the leaders of the conference, through the speakers, to the staff, the volunteers, and those attending, I was struck by the quietness, the meekness, and the gentleness that pervaded the whole conference.
As I asked myself why this should be so, I came up with three possible answers. First, counselors usually work in the background. They don’t take center stage, they don’t usually occupy pulpits and stages. They work away quietly, unseen, and largely unheralded in churches, counseling centers, health centers, etc. They don’t get the spotlight and they don’t seek the limelight. Nobody who wants to be a somebody chooses to be a counselor. By definition, the vast majority of their work is in private. That attracts the humble.
Second, counselors are dealing with the mess of humanity all day, every day. I was stunned by how much counseling was being done by every person I spoke to – often eight hours a day, five days a week, every week of life. Although I do a fair amount of counseling, I personally couldn’t survive that – it would drain every ounce of life out of me. Yet these men and women do that day in day out, dealing with some of the most painful and difficult situations imaginable. That down-in-the-dirt kind of work has a humbling and sanctifying effect.
Third, many (maybe most) counselors go into counseling because they’ve needed counseling and benefitted from it. One person after another told me of how much they had needed counseling at various points in their lives and that humbling experience of admitting their need, seeking help from others, and benefitting from wise spiritual and practical counsel was such a blessing to them that they wanted to do the same for others too. That process has humbled them and keeps them humble as they remember that they were once on the broken side of the conversation.
Whatever the causes of this humility, to witness it was a beautiful and memorable experience. Perhaps if more Christians and more pastors got involved in regular counseling, the fruit of humility would flourish more widely and more beautifully.