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Welcome back to week 26. We hope the past week has been a blessed one for you. Last week we briefly considered what we ought to do the first time we disciple (i.e., counsel) another. This week we will briefly consider how to develop involvement with others we are trying to counsel and help. When we get involved with others and their difficulties should we give them empathy? Furthermore, is this empathy the same empathy about which the world speaks? What is the difference, if any, between empathy and involvement? Is this difference significant?

In order to develop involvement with a counselee, a biblical counselor must let the counselee know that he cares. Until the counselee knows how much the counselor cares, he will not care how much the counselor knows. There are a couple of important goals the counselor must remember when seeking to develop involvement with others who come to him or her for help. 

First, love must be his goal. In 1 Timothy 1:5 Paul says, “…the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. “According to this passage the love that the counselor should demonstrate is not just warm-fuzzy love, which is unbiblical, if that is where it stops. In this passage the Greek word “parangelia,” is where we get our word “instruction.”  This word has more meaning than simply “instructing.” It carries the meaning of authoritative instruction. 

Therefore, the counselor should seek to be involved with the counselee through authoritative instruction that has the goal of loving the other person and instructing him to be more like Christ (cf. 1 Thess. 2:7-8; Gal. 4:19; Phil. 1:7-8). Since that does not happen in some kind of mechanical way the counselor must have genuine empathy for the counselee’s problems. He must have real concern and care for his fellow man who is suffering sin and its consequences. 

Let it be said, though, that empathy is not giving support as far as a psychological definition is concerned. Support, in its psychological sense, is standing by another during difficult times and assuring him that we care. Biblical counseling is all about getting to the issues of the heart and exposing the sin that is causing the problem in the first place. In order to do that, to build empathetic involvement, one must roll up his sleeves and entering into the person’s life armed with God’s Word, the Holy Spirit, and a desire to help the counselee turn from his sin by giving him applicatory truth (James 2:15-16; John 3:16; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 5:25). Empathy and involvement, in proper biblical counseling, are quite intertwined and necessary. 

We hope our short time considering counselee involvement and empathy was helpful. Lord willing, next week we will think about data gathering and its importance in the counseling / discipleship process. What exactly is data gathering and why do we need it? Until then may our Lord bless you and keep you.

Biblical Counseling: How to the first time Foundations of Biblical Counseling: Data Gathering