12 Tips from Twelve Stones: Foundations for Biblical Counselors - Tip 8

By: Scott O'Malley

January 7th, 2022



“American culture may idolize the Lone Ranger and Superman as heroes who right wrongs and ride out of town alone, but that solitary approach to life and change is utterly foreign to Scripture” (Paul Tripp and Tim Lane, How People Change pg. 83).



Foundation #8 – Community is vital in the growth process


The vital role of community in the growth process for Christians is all over the Bible (Ephesians 4:1-16; Hebrews 10:24-25; 1 Corinthians 12; etc.). At Twelve Stones we are so convinced of the importance of community for all Christians that we insist everyone coming for counseling bring an advocate. An advocate is a Christian friend, mentor, or loved one from back home who journeys with the person seeking help throughout the counseling process and beyond. While we’ll discuss numerous benefits to living life in community, it is important we begin with the realization that our Triune God lives in community with Himself and He has made us in His image. From eternity past, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have lived in perfect fellowship. Is it any wonder that humans are designed to live in community?


An advocate is a Christian friend, mentor, or loved one from back home who journeys with the person seeking help throughout the counseling process and beyond.

To help us consider the vital role community plays in the counseling process we will look at four important benefits of including an advocate.



Struggles are known


When people are stuck they may retreat from other people, often hiding their biggest struggles because of fear or shame. Proverbs 18:1 says, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” Instead of hiding struggles, God intends for us to share those struggles with trusted advisors and friends so they can help bear that burden (Galatians 6:2).


At Twelve Stones, one of the benefits of having an advocate in the counseling process is that the person receiving counsel shares their life story, with all of their struggles, and the advocate hears it all. Once that barrier has been crossed, it is much easier for the counselee to share ongoing struggles because their friend knows of their past struggles and has not rejected them.


Recently I counseled a couple who had pushed back against having advocates present. However, after experiencing a three day intensive counseling retreat they were very thankful we insisted on it. Their shared experience of those three days together deepened their friendship and added to the overall benefit of the counseling. They felt truly known and understood by friends who were returning home with them. As a result, they were confident growth would continue beyond the counseling process.



Encouragement is readily available


As a person continues to reach out to a trusted friend after counseling or in between sessions, encouragement is readily available through reminders of the counsel that has been given. All of us are prone to forget lessons we learn along the way. An advocate or trusted friend welcomed into the counseling process can be a great source of encouragement. Throughout the Old Testament in particular, God did many things to help the people remember what they learned. One example is in Joshua 4, when God instructed the Israelites to set up 12 stones to help them remember how God parted the Jordan River. “So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever” (Joshua 4:7). This memorial was intended to provide a recurring reminder of the power of God – “so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty” (Joshua 4:24). People who are struggling often need reminders that God is powerful and can work even in their situation to bring about healing, help, restoration, comfort, or a perspective change.


One person who came to Twelve Stones years ago understood the benefit of counseling in community when he wrote to us: “This isn’t counseling . . . it is so much more. This is the body of Christ coming alongside and investing in our lives.”


People who are struggling often need reminders that God is powerful and can work even in their situation to bring about healing, help, restoration, comfort, or a perspective change.


Loving correction when necessary


While being known and encouraged are very helpful for all of us, it is also important that we have people in our lives who will provide correction when needed. Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” We all have spiritual blind spots and it is essential that we welcome counsel from people who can help us see clearly. One warning of spiritual blindness is found in Hebrews 3:12-13: “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called today, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Consistent exhortation, and correction when necessary, can be a lifeline when someone is really struggling. When our spiritual energy is drained, often


“God sends his body to bring you back. It is typically not the wanderer’s own

efforts that prompt his return to the fold, but his brothers’ (James 5:19-20), being to

him a priceless means of God’s grace” (David Mathis, Habits of Grace pg. 148).


May God help us to be the kind of people who welcome the weary and blind into our own lives.


Added wisdom


One final benefit we will look at is the added wisdom welcoming community into the counseling process provides. Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” As we are working through identifying heart issues during counseling, the advocates provide valuable help in the discernment stage. In addition, advocates continue to provide insight that aids in the direction of the counseling.


May God help us to be the kind of people who welcome the weary and blind into our own lives.

Countless times, an advocate has provided a key insight in counseling or a recommendation of something to explore further that changed the trajectory of the counseling. If you provide counseling for others, we would encourage you to adopt this very helpful practice.

Next week we will examine the importance of counselors being lifelong learners. In the meantime, here are a couple of questions for you to ponder this week.



Questions for Reflection


  1. Recognizing the value of community in the life of every believer, how are you doing at opening up your life to a trusted friend or advisor?

  2. Evaluating yourself as one who gives counsel, how well are you doing at involving community in your growth process as a counselor? What changes can you make to help you continue to grow as a counselor?


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