By Les Morgan, D. Min.

Jesus stated His goals for individuals: abundant life on earth (John 10:10) and everlasting life in heaven (John 3:16). This should be the ultimate overarching goal of any Christian counselor. Face it, there are many sincere Christians who will enjoy eternal life in heaven but fall very short of experiencing abundant life on earth. These people need something more than evangelism or traditional Christian education. Such counseling might help one recognize subconscious harmful attitudes, teach interpersonal skills and new behaviors, or show how to mobilize one’s inner resources to face a crisis. Such counseling, guided by the Holy Spirit, can free a person from hang-ups that keep him or her from growing to Christian maturity.

It is important for the counselor and counselee to establish clear objectives and goals, which are specific and realistic, and even measurable.

1. Self-understanding: This is the first step in healing. Many problems are self-imposed (biased perceptions, harmful attitudes, self-destructive behavior).

2. Communication: It is well known that many marriage difficulties come due to a breakdown in the husband-wife communication. The same is true for other problems. We must learn to communicate feelings, thoughts and attitudes both accurately and effectively. One must be able to express oneself, and to receive accurate messages from others.

3. Learning and behavior change: Most if not all of our behavior is learned. Therefore, one must un-learn ineffective behavior and learn more efficient ways of acting. Such learning comes from instruction, imitation, or trial and error. One must practice new ways of learning.

4. Self-actualization: Humanistic writers have used this tern to express the importance of an individual learning to achieve and maintain one’s optimal potential. To the Christian, a term like “Christ-actualization” might be substituted to indicate that the goal in life is to be complete in Christ, develop our greatest potential through the power of the Holy Spirit who bring us to maturity.

5. Support: Often people can meet the above goals and function effectively, except for temporary periods of unusual stress or crisis. Such persons can benefit from a period of support, encouragement and burden-bearing until they are able to re-mobilize their personal and spiritual resources to effectively meet the problems of living.