Early in 2020, my pastor asked me to give personal testimony to encourage our church members to get certified by the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC). Below is the script that guided my testimony, edited a bit.
(By the way, biblical counseling is not just an American phenomenon. See the note at the end of this post.)
When I began training in biblical counseling, counseling was the last thing on my mind. I would never do that. What I wanted was the theology and I wanted to know how it applied practically to problems in living. In other words, I wanted to know the Bible better and know God better. I also believed if the Bible is able to equip for every good work, then the Bible must have the answers for problems I was facing. Training in biblical counseling gave me all of that and much more. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
I started training with beliefs I did not know were contradictory. For example, I believed that the Word of God holds sufficient counsel and simultaneously that it doesn’t address psychological problems like bipolar or panic attacks. I found that, on the contrary, the Bible shows us bipolar people. It describes panic attacks. It provides solutions for both, and all other emotional/psychological problems. The biblical counseling training deepened and broadened my understanding of the Bible, then drew lines of implication connecting this Scripture to this problem and that Scripture to that problem. Scripture contains all the truth we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3).
The Bible explains why we do what we do and how to overcome problems. It explains why I had been unable to stop a life-dominating sin and how to, after all, stop that sin. Training taught me how to make decisions biblically rather than by listening in my heart. I had been told that due to genetics and chemical imbalance I would have to be on an antidepressant for the rest of my life. Application of this training enabled me to overcome longterm depression and suicidal thoughts. After five years of taking an antidepressant, biblical changes enabled me to get off of it. I now have been free from depression and antidepressants for over 15 years and counting. Training in biblical counseling radically changed my life.
Along the way, my teachers kept telling me that we can counsel others. Well, it may be changing my life significantly, but I am far from qualified to speak into someone else’s life. Counseling is for the professionals. But Romans 15:14 says, “and concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able also to admonish one another.” (The “goodness” is Christ’s given to a believer and the “knowledge” is in the Bible.) That was written to regular Jane Doe Christians like me! Would I believe the Bible? Would I believe that, using the Word of God–not my experiences and what worked for me–using the Word of God in dependence upon the Spirit, I might actually be able to help someone like my teachers had used God’s Word to help me?
Training in biblical counseling taught me how to understand people as well as Scripture, then how to find the content in the Bible needed for their problems and, importantly, how to help them implement that content. It helped me learn to love people. Overall, ACBC training deepened my walk with God and equipped me to be of more effective service to the church than I otherwise would be.
I realize that counseling one another biblically does not require a certificate. After all, the Word of God is our counsel and Paul said that a believer, rightly handling the Word of God, is able to counsel others. However, we are also told to be equipped, which requires training and study.
I also realize that people do not have to counsel in a formal way like I often do. Many counsel informally, in less intense discipleship relationships. I do, too. But regardless of how you interact with people, training for certification will show you how doctrines relate to the practicalities of relationships and emotions. It will help you understand the biblical way of change, which ups your game on your own growth in holiness. As for others, you do already speak into others’ lives, if only in casual conversations. We all do. ACBC training provides an effective means of equipping church members to do so more biblically than they otherwise might. It can make you more effective, which will add to your joy and the growth of your church and the glory of God.
I encourage you to consider training and certification by the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.
Here is a two-minute video on the process.
Here is a broad overview of the Pathway Through Certification.
Special Note: After training, there are two exams and supervision. After all, this is a certification organization, so they must have a standard by which to certify an individual. Remember, all of the process is intended for your betterment for the glory of God, not just for meeting a standard. So the exams are pass/rewrite, not pass/fail. Therefore, consider the exams not as a hurdle but as part of your training, not as a have-to but as a get-to. Everyone involved wants you to succeed and will help you.
For citizens of countries other than the United States: By the way, biblical counseling is not just an American thing or a Western activity. The Bible was actually written by non-Westerners. The Bible transcends countries, languages, and cultures. And so, biblical counseling–counseling the Word of God to people–is a world-wide church activity. Training in biblical counseling has spread to many countries. Please contact ACBC for referrals to resources in your country.