I love the smell of fresh lumber. Growing up on the west coast, it wasn’t unusual to see log booms scattered on the water and watch logging trucks making their way down the roadway. The best of all, however, was having fresh sawdust delivered to our basement for our ancient furnace. So, I took a trip down memory lane this afternoon when I found myself in the lumber supply section of our local Home Depot, stopped for a moment, shut my eyes and breathed in deep. Lovely.
As I made my way down the aisles and saw the hundreds of different kinds of lengths, widths and types of pieces of wood, I realized that although I had an appreciation for the material, I didn’t have a clue what all the different kinds were for. I haven’t built anything out of wood in my life. To do so without knowledge would be disastrous. The end result would be laughable.
So it is, however, with many pastors who counsel without the knowledge needed about the subject matter. They may be excellent preachers and kind shepherds to their flock, but when it comes to counseling folks that are dealing with down and dirty real life matters like domestic violence, sexual abuse, anger and divorce, to name just a few, many well intended individuals don’t have a clue. And the end results are anything but laughable.
To build a house, you need an architect and an experienced builder. To counsel you need both the heart for it and the wisdom that comes with head knowledge. For both professions, you need to be trained. If you are (or know) a pastor who believes you are competent to counsel when you don’t have the knowledge, for the sake of the hurting people in your office, please put down the hammer and nails and use the correct tool called “referral.”