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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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Feature book review: ‘The Pastor and Counseling’

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The Pastor and Counseling: The Basics of Shepherding Members in NeedJeremy Pierre and Deepak Reju

 

Review by RuthAnne Irvin 

 

The church often struggles to encourage, comfort, and counsel those hurting in the pews each Sunday. When pastors do not know how to help, counseling is more of a half-hearted attempt to fix someone’s problems instead of pointing them to Christ for healing. In their new book, The Pastor and Counseling, Jeremy Pierre and Deepak Reju guide pastors and laymen alike in caring for hurting people. 

 

“Counseling is a tool — just one of the ministries of the Word among many — to help another person live out wholehearted faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ,” they write.

 

In the introduction, the authors explain they do not expect the book to answer every counseling question ever posed but rather to better equip pastors, laymen, and teachers with the tools to counsel others. 

 

“The goal, rather, is to give you confidence that in the gospel you have the categories you need to navigate the troubles of your people,” they write, arguing that a pastor must place his confidence in changing lives in the power of God’s Word. “Your confidence is not in some super-developed counseling technique, or even in yourself, but in God’s power to change people.” 

 

The Pastor and Counseling is divided into three parts: the concept, process, and context of counseling. The book begins with an exhortation for pastors who serve their people, looking to Scripture for examples of shepherds who fed and loved their sheep well. 

 

“Loving Jesus involves caring for those who are his,” they write. “And caring for those who are his will involve death. … Death to ourselves for the good of others requires getting involved in their troubles.” 

 

The second chapter of the book addresses where a counselor or pastor is to begin. Pierre and Reju provide three goals in counseling: address the problem, display the relevance of the gospel, and help people grow in Christlikeness. They also encourage people to allow the Lord to work in his time and way, not pushing a certain counseling process on a counselee. 

 

“We should be humbly open to God, not insisting on a particular tool we think is most appropriate,” they write.

 

They then review the method of counseling, which primarily involves listening to the problem, consider the heart responses, and speak the truth in love. 

 

The second part of the book addresses the counseling process, and the third part is about the context of counseling situations. 

 

“Pastors should think of counseling not primarily as an attempt to fix problems, but as an attempt to reorient worship from created things to the Creator by means of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” they write. 

 

Throughout The Pastor and Counseling, Pierre and Reju offer practical and attainable goals for counseling. The structure of the 160-page book is helpful for not only pastors but anyone who wants to know more about counseling and is unsure where to begin. Pierre and Reju humbly offer not themselves but Scripture to both counselees and those who want to help other hurting people in churches. The goal, they write, is to cultivate a counseling culture in the local church. And this occurs when a pastor encourages his people to love one another well. 

 

“If you are building a people committed to one another’s spiritual good, they will be more interested in counseling as a tool that can help toward that end.”

 

(Crossway 2015, $14.99)

 

 

 

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