Friday, March 31, 2006

Christian counseling: Change versus Change - Jay E. Adams

When we talk about changing people, what do we mean? Because counselors do not all have the same kind of change in mind, it is not strictly correct to say that they agree on the need for changing counselees. Just as the word automobile conveys strikingly different images to owners of new BMWs than to owners of third-hand Toyotas, so also counselors, who agree on the need for modification in counselees, may have vastly different ideas and attitudes concerning that change.

What we are talking about as Christians is change that goes far beyond minimal or incidental modifications in a person's behavior. The superficial change offered by secular counselors will not do. Substantial change requires the Holy Spirit's alteration of the heart (one's inner life known only to God and oneself). Outward changes of any significance must begin there. Anything less is an unbiblical and inadequate view of change.

"But must change be dramatic? Can't I genuinely help people change in small ways?" Yes, you can. Biblical change - for instance, the steady growth of believers - is not always one drama after another. Between the great spiritual strides are many small steps, and seemingly minor changes, all of which are important because they flow from a heart transformed by God. Because a Christian's thinking, attitudes, and actions all pertain to his relationship to God, changes in any of those areas, whether large or small, are of central importance. That goes for changes both toward God and away from God. All counseling change is a matter of greater or lesser love toward Him. That is why the change that Christian counselors work toward is always crucial.

In other words, not about neutral change. The change for which Christian counselors strive has a spiritual direction, and their aim is to help people prosper in that direction. All change toward God is good, and all change away from God is bad. Sanctification, change toward God, is the goal of all Christian counseling. Successful counseling changes the Christian to make him more like Christ. Movement toward or away from the stature of Christ is a deeply moral issue, never neutral.

So, the change we are talking about is substantial change of a person's life. Brought about by the ministry of the Word, and blessed by the Spirit of God, it brings the counselee closer to the likeness of Christ. In short, it is significant change because it glorifies God.

How to Help People Change


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