Dottie came to me for counsel.
I was her pastor and she was battling depression, she said, and had dealt with it for years.
I listened and realized something vital.
My wife and Dottie had a lot in common.
So, after the visit had gone on for a half-hour, I said, “Dottie, there is someone I want you to know. I’d like you and my wife to talk. Now, Margaret is not a trained therapist, although she’s a far better counselor than I. But she knows what you are going through because she’s battled depression, too.”
She assured me she would be willing to meet with her.
And, this being in the years before my wife developed several debilitating infirmities, Margaret was glad to invite Dottie over for coffee. And that started a lifelong friendship.
That was over 20 years ago. Dottie and her husband retired and live in another state now, but I learned later that a few days before God called Margaret to Heaven in January of this year, she and Dottie had chatted on the phone for over an hour.
Such a simple thing I did all those years ago. But so lifechanging for everyone.
As far as I can recall, Dottie never again came back to me for counsel.
She and her husband became some of our best friends and strongest supporters in the church.
As a general rule, we pastors are not trained counselors who specialize in longterm therapy for troubled church members. Most pastors, I expect, are a lot like me in that I would sit and listen and all the while, be asking the Lord, “Who do I know who can help this one?” Sometimes, the answer would be a trained professional counselor. At other times, a financial counselor. But at other times, I realized this one simply needed an older “mama” in the church. Numerous times, I have matched a troubled younger woman with an older, wiser mature lady and have done them both great favors.
As I reflect back on it, several of the best friends my wife had in life came to her at my suggestion after they had visited me, seeking counsel from their pastor.
It’s not necessary to be a great counselor if you know some good resources. Or have a wonderful wife.