Mind, Character and Personality/Counseling
The Need of Counselors—Oh, for generals, wise and considerate, well-balanced men, who will be safe advisers, who have some insight into human nature, who know how to direct and counsel in the fear of God.—Lt 45, 1893. (Selected Messages 2:362.)
An Ear That Can Listen With Sympathy—There is need of shepherds who, under the direction of the Chief Shepherd, will seek for the lost and straying. This means the bearing of physical discomfort and the sacrifice of ease. It means a tender solicitude for the erring, a divine compassion and forbearance. It means an ear that can listen with sympathy to heartbreaking recitals of wrong, of degradation, of despair and misery.—Gospel Workers, 184 (1915).
The Importance of the Work of the Pastor-Counselor—As the physician deals with physical disease, so does the pastor minister to the sin-sick soul. And his work is as much more important than that of the physician as eternal life is more valuable than temporal existence. The pastor meets with an endless variety of temperaments, and it is his duty to become acquainted with the members of the families that listen to his teachings in (p.764) order to determine what means will best influence them in the right direction.—Gospel Workers, 388 (1915).
Take People Where They Are—To take people right where they are, whatever their position, whatever their condition, and help them in every way possible—this is gospel ministry. It may be necessary for ministers to go into the homes of the sick and say, “I am ready to help you, and I will do the best I can. I am not a physician, but I am a minister, and I like to minister to the sick and afflicted.” Those who are sick in body are nearly always sick in soul, and when the soul is sick, the body is made sick.—Manuscript 62, 1900. (Medical Ministry, 238).
Anticipating Sorrows—The Lord’s workers need the melting love of Jesus in their hearts. Let every minister live as a man among men. Let him, in well-regulated methods, go from house to house, bearing ever the censer of heaven’s fragrant atmosphere of love. Anticipate the sorrows, the difficulties, the troubles of others. Enter into the joys and cares of both high and low, rich and poor.—Lt 50, 1897. (Evangelism, 348, 349.)
Counsel Is Needed—The inexperienced need to be guided by wise counsel when in trial and assailed with temptation; they must be taught that attainments in spiritual things will cost them steadfast, well-directed effort. We must repeat it often to those newly come to the faith, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). These words are to be presented in the spirit of the Master who gave them, for they are of more value than gold or silver or precious stones.
Teach the young disciples to put their hands in the hand of Christ, saying, “Lead me, guide me.” What comfort and hope and blessing will the needy, perplexed souls receive if they will humbly seek God. The condition is (p.765) that they come in faith, nothing wavering, asking for guidance in the day of perplexity. This pledge is given to every sincere seeker: “You shall have gracious answers.” “You shall receive.”
The instruction is to be often given that what God has said will never fail. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes. We must teach every soul to lay his requests by prayer on the mercy seat. Strength and grace will surely come to the one who does this, for the Lord has promised. And yet so many go in weakness because they do not believe that God will do just as He has said.—MS 19, 1894.
God Has Given Rules—The father is the lawmaker of the household; and, like Abraham, he should make the law of God the rule of his home. God said of Abraham, “I know him, that he will command his children and his household” (Genesis 18:19). There would be no sinful neglect to restrain evil; no weak, unwise, indulgent favoritism; no yielding of his conviction of duty to the claims of mistaken affection. Abraham would not only give right instruction, but he would maintain the authority of just and righteous laws.
God has given rules for our guidance. Children should not be left to wander away from the safe path marked out in God’s Word, into ways leading to danger, which are open on every side. Kindly but firmly, with persevering, prayerful effort, their wrong desires should be restrained, their inclinations denied.—The Ministry of Healing, 390, 391 (1905).
Listen to Counsel of Experience (words to a distraught husband and father)—You have been afloat in the world, but the eternal truth will prove an anchor to you. You need to guard your faith. Do not move from impulse or entertain vague theories. Experimental faith in Christ and submission to the law of God are of the highest consequence to you. Be willing to take the advice and counsel of those who have experience. Make no delay in (p.766) the work of overcoming. Be true to yourself, to your children, and to God. Your afflicted son needs to be tenderly dealt with. As a father you should remember that the nerves that can thrill with pleasure can also thrill with keenest pain. The Lord identifies His interest with that of suffering humanity.—Testimonies for the Church 4:368 (1879).
When Counsel Might Have Saved Independent Youth From Ill-advised Marriages—When it is too late, they find that they have made a mistake and have imperiled their happiness in this life and the salvation of their souls. They would not admit that anyone knew anything about the matter but themselves, when if counsel had been received, they might have saved themselves years of anxiety and sorrow. But advice is only thrown away on those who are determined to have their own way. Passion carries such individuals over every barrier that reason and judgment can interpose.—The Review and Herald, September 25, 1888. (Messages to Young People, 459.)
Some Qualifications for a Counselor—It is of great importance that the one who is chosen to care for the spiritual interests of patients and helpers be a man of sound judgment and undeviating principle, a man who will have moral influence, who knows how to deal with minds. He should be a person of wisdom and culture, of affection as well as intelligence. He may not be thoroughly efficient in all respects at first; but he should, by earnest thought and the exercise of his abilities, qualify himself for this important work. The greatest wisdom and gentleness are needed to serve in this position acceptably yet with unbending integrity; for prejudice, bigotry, and error of every form and description must be met.—Testimonies for the Church 4:546, 547 (1880).
Private Counseling Can Become a Snare (counsel to a minister)—Last night your case was forced to my notice, and I was talking with you as a mother talks with (p.767) her son. I said, “Brother _____, you should not feel it to be your duty to converse with young ladies upon certain subjects, even if your wife is present. You are encouraging in them the idea that it is all right to communicate to ministers the family secrets and difficulties that should be brought before God, who understands the heart, who never makes a mistake, and who judges righteously. Refuse to listen to any communications of private matters, concerning either families or individuals. If persons are encouraged to come to one man with their troubles, they will think it all right to keep up this practice, and it will become a snare, not only to the soul who communicates, but to the one to whom these things are confided.”—Lt 7, 1889.
Limitation of the Minister’s Counsel to Women—Women have been attracted to you, and have been ready to pour into your ears their private troubles and family disappointments. You ought not to lend an ear to them, but tell them that you are yourself only an erring mortal; that God is their helper. Jesus knows the secrets of every heart, and He can bless and comfort them. Tell them that you might misjudge and be led to encourage evil, rather than reprove it. Point them to “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” If you will put on the armor and, crossing though it may be, give personal labor just where it is needed, to those who are closing the door against the light of heaven because of their selfishness and covetousness, you may not make so many friends, but you will save souls.—Lt 48, 1888. Warnings Repeated—Let not women be attracted to you. Stand in the uprightness of your soul and tell them you are not their confessor. Jesus is the one to learn the secrets of the heart. You are only human, and judging only from a human standpoint, you might make wrong decisions, give wrong counsel.—MS 59, 1900. (p.768)
I cannot see any light, my brother, in your having meetings for young ladies alone. Let there be experienced women to educate and train the young women in propriety of deportment and influence. Do not let them communicate their private history to any man living. This is not God’s order, and you should not encourage anything of the kind.—Lt 9, 1889.
Factors in Effective Counseling—When a crisis comes in the life of any soul, and you attempt to give counsel or admonition, your words will have only the weight of influence for good that your own example and spirit have gained for you. You must be good before you can do good. You cannot exert an influence that will transform others until your own heart has been humbled and refined and made tender by the grace of Christ. When this change has been wrought in you, it will be as natural for you to live to bless others as it is for the rosebush to yield its fragrant bloom or the vine its purple clusters.—Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 127, 128 (1896).
The Training and Experience Which Prepared Moses as a Compassionate Counselor—Man would have dispensed with that long period of toil and obscurity, deeming it a great loss of time. But Infinite Wisdom called him who was to become the leader of his people to spend forty years in the humble work of a shepherd. The habits of caretaking, of self-forgetfulness and tender solicitude for his flock, thus developed would prepare him to become the compassionate, long-suffering shepherd of Israel. No advantage that human training or culture could bestow could be a substitute for this experience.—Patriarchs and Prophets, 247, 248 (1890).
Some Not Fitted to Deal With Minds (counsel to a minister)—You have some traits of character that unfit you to deal wisely with human minds. You do not work in a way that will produce the best results.—Lt 205, 1904. (p.769)
To deal with minds is the nicest work in which men ever engaged. All are not fitted to correct the erring. They have not wisdom to deal justly, while loving mercy. They are not inclined to see the necessity of mingling love and tender compassion with faithful reproofs. Some are ever needlessly severe and do not feel the necessity of the injunction of the apostle: “And of some have compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire” (Jude 1:22, 23).—Testimonies for the Church 3:269, 270 (1873).
Human Intellect Not Omnipotent—A clear conception of what God is and what He requires us to be will give us humble views of self. He who studies aright the Sacred Word will learn that human intellect is not omnipotent; that without the help which none but God can give, human strength and wisdom are but weakness and ignorance.—Testimonies for the Church 5:24 (1882). Manifesting the Grace of Christ—God would have every individual look less to the finite, depend less upon men. We have counselors who make manifest that they have not a knowledge of the grace of Christ and do not understand the truth as it is in Christ.
Those who are cooperating with God have humble opinions of themselves. They are not boastful, self-sufficient, and self-exalted. They are long-suffering, kind, full of mercy and good fruits. Human ambition takes the background with them. The righteousness of Christ goes before them, and the glory of the Lord is their reward.—SpT Series A, No. 3, p 49, May 7, 1895. (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 215, 216.)
Questions for Counselors—When we have tried to present the health reform to our brethren and sisters and have spoken to them of the importance of eating and drinking and doing all that they do to the glory of God, many by their actions have said,“It is nobody’s business whether I eat this or that. Whatever we do we are to bear the consequences ourselves.” (p.770)
Dear friends, you are greatly mistaken. You are not the only sufferers from a wrong course. The society you are in bears the consequences of your wrongs, in a great degree, as well as yourselves. If you suffer from your intemperance in eating or drinking, we that are around you or associated with you are also affected by your infirmities. We have to suffer on account of your wrong course.
If it has an influence to lessen your powers of mind or body, we feel it when in your society and are affected by it. If, instead of having a buoyancy of spirit, you are gloomy, you cast a shadow upon the spirits of all around you. If we are sad and depressed and in trouble, you could, if in a right condition of health, have a clear brain to show us the way out and speak a comforting word to us. But if your brain is so benumbed by your wrong course of living that you cannot give us the right counsel, do we not meet with a loss? Does not your influence seriously affect us?
We may have a good degree of confidence in our own judgment, yet we want to have counselors; for “in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” We desire that our course should look consistent to those we love, and we wish to seek their counsel and have them able to give it with a clear brain. But what care we for your judgment if your brain nerve power has been taxed to the utmost and the vitality withdrawn from the brain to take care of the improper food placed in your stomachs, or of an enormous quantity of even healthful food? What care we for the judgment of such persons? They see through a mass of undigested food. Therefore your course of living affects us. It is impossible for you to pursue any wrong course without causing others to suffer.—Testimonies for the Church 2:356, 357 (1870).
Care in Approach—Those who ... are careless and abrupt in approaching persons would show the same defects of manner, the same want of tact and skill in dealing (p.771) with minds, should they enter the ministry.—Testimonies for the Church 5:399 (1885).
How to Say “Plain” Things—I have been enabled to say some very plain things to those who have become confused. I dared not do otherwise than to tell them the truth, because a message was given me for them.—Lt 271, 1903.
Learn Christ’s Way of Dealing With Minds—Learn to deal with minds as Christ did. Sharp things must sometimes be spoken, but be sure that the Holy Spirit of God is abiding in your heart before you speak the clear-cut truth; then let it cut its way. You are not to do the cutting.—G.C.D.B. April 13, 1891. (Selected Messages 2:371.)
Sick Have Emotional Needs—Sympathy and tact will often prove a greater benefit to the sick than will the most skillful treatment given in a cold, indifferent way. When a physician comes to the sickbed with a listless, careless manner, looks at the afflicted one with little concern, by word or action giving the impression that the case is not one requiring much attention, and then leaves the patient to his own reflections, he has done that patient positive harm. The doubt and discouragement produced by his indifference will often counteract the good effect of the remedies he may prescribe.—The Ministry of Healing, 244 (1905).
No Reproach but a Kindly Hand—If you see one whose words or attitude shows that he is separated from God, do not blame him. It is not your work to condemn him, but come close to his side to help him. The parable of the straying sheep needs to be placed as a motto in every dwelling. The Divine Shepherd leaves the ninety and nine, and goes out into the wilderness to seek the one that is lost.
There are thickets, quagmires, and dangerous crevices (p.772) in the rocks, and the Shepherd knows that if the sheep is in any of these places a friendly hand must lift it out. When He discovers the lost one, He does not heap reproaches upon it. He is only glad that He has found it alive. When He hears its bleating afar off, He encounters any and every difficulty that He may save His sheep that was lost. With firm yet gentle hand He parts the briers, or takes it from the mire; He tenderly lifts it to His shoulders and bears it back to the fold. The pure, sinless Redeemer bears the sinful, the unclean.—MS 17, 1895.
Wise Counseling—Sympathy is good, wisely given, but it must be judiciously imparted, with a knowledge that the subject is deserving sympathy. What shall be said of receiving advice and counsel? Proverbs 25:9-12: “Debate thy cause with thy neighbor himself; and discover not a secret to another: lest he that heareth it put thee to shame A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.”
When we can associate together to help one another heavenward, when the conversation is upon divine and heavenly things, then it amounts to something to talk; but when the conversation centers upon self and upon earthly and unimportant matters, silence is golden. The obedient ear will receive reproof with humility, patience, and teachableness. Then only do our communications with each other prove beneficial and fulfill all that God would have them. When both sides of the divine instruction are fulfilled, the wise reprover does his duty, and the obedient ear hears to a purpose and is benefited.—Lt 52, 1893. (Sons and Daughters of God, 166.)
Be Calm and Kind, Whatever Occurs—There will ever be things arising to annoy, perplex, and try the patience.... They must be prepared for this and not become excited or unbalanced. They must be calm and kind, whatever may occur....They should ever consider that (p.773) they are dealing with men and women of diseased minds, who frequently view things in a perverted light and yet are confident that they understand matters perfectly.—Testimonies for the Church 3:182 (1872).
Do Not Expect Too Much—Ministers should be careful not to expect too much from persons who are still groping in the darkness of error.... They should be patient and wise in dealing with minds, remembering how manifold are the circumstances that have developed such different traits in individuals.—Testimonies for the Church 4:262 (1876).
The Atmosphere of Peace—The very first work, my brethren, is to secure the blessing of God in your own hearts. Then bring this blessing into your homes, put away your criticisms, overcome your exacting ways, and let the spirit of carefulness and kindness prevail. The atmosphere of your homes will be carried with you to the office, and heavenly peace will surround your souls. Wherever the love of Jesus reigns, there is pitying tenderness and thoughtfulness of others. The most precious work that my brethren can engage in is that of cultivating a Christlike character.—Testimonies for the Church 5:558, 559 (1889).
Lead to Fountains of Living Water—He who seeks to quench his thirst at the fountains of this world will drink only to thirst again. Everywhere men are unsatisfied. They long for something to supply the need of the soul. Only One can meet that want. The need of the world, “the Desire of all nations,” is Christ. The divine grace which He alone can impart, is as living water, purifying, refreshing, and invigorating the soul.—The Desire of Ages, 187 (1898).
Understanding the Worldly Point of View—An enlightened judgment compels us to acknowledge that heavenly things are superior to the things of earth, and yet the depraved heart of man leads him to give precedence (p.774) to the things of the world. The opinions of great men, the theories of science, falsely so called, are blended with the truths of Holy Writ.—The Review and Herald, November 24, 1891.
The Great Counselor—Come to God with all your needs. Don’t go to others with your trials and temptations; God alone can help you. If you fulfill the conditions of God’s promises, the promises will be fulfilled to you. If your mind is stayed upon God, you will not go from a state of ecstasy to the valley of despondency when trial and temptation come upon you. You will not talk doubt and gloom to others. You will not say, “I do not know about this or that. I do not feel happy. I am not sure that we have the truth.” You will not do this, for you will have an anchor to the soul both sure and steadfast.
When we talk discouragement and gloom, Satan listens with fiendish joy, for it pleases him to know that he has brought you into his bondage. Satan cannot read our thoughts, but he can see our actions, hear our words; and from his long knowledge of the human family, he can shape his temptations to take advantage of our weak points of character. And how often do we let him into the secret of how he may obtain the victory over us. Oh, that we might control our words and actions! How strong we would become if our words were of such an order that we would not be ashamed to meet the record of them in the day of judgment. How different will they appear in the day of God from what they seem when we utter them.—The Review and Herald, May 19, 1891.
There stands among you the Mighty Counselor of the ages, inviting you to place your confidence in Him. Shall we turn away from Him to uncertain human beings, who are as wholly dependent on God as we ourselves are? Have we fallen so far below our privileges? Have we not been guilty of expecting so little that we have not asked for what God is longing to give?—The Review and Herald, June 9, 1910.