Our times demand positive thinking. The very atmosphere seems to be charged with uncertainty and change. The Bible instructor, who must lead people to make decisions for eternity, shares many conflicts in the lives of her readers. But tension and feelings of indecision are not confined to the lives of those for whom she is working; they may intrude into her own experience until she finds within herself a desire for an easier field of service. But most Bible instructors are straight thinkers, well able to help themselves and others in the path of truth and righteousness. There may be a few younger workers, however, who have not found complete satisfaction in their work, and it may seem to them that other avenues of service would be more congenial.
Miss Ninaj's article on page 37 is thought provoking. Psychology has a place in the work of the Bible instructor, and it seems that of late some of our workers have become deeply interested in learning more about the science of the human mind. In this connection we might consider some of the questions claiming attention and causing a few Bible instructors to become unsettled:
- Can the psychological counselor hope to fill a larger place in present-day evangelism?
- Should the Bible instructor receive further education in the field of psychology, psychiatry, and related sciences?
- Would knowledge of psychological counseling make the services of the field Bible instructor more valuable to her associate pastor?
Counseling is not confined to ministerial and Bible work; every worker in leadership needs to develop this skill. While the purpose of counseling is to guide the confused as they grapple with present-day problems, it does not care for all of them. We should remember that the gospel worker who keeps close to the Lord, and to the people who need help, will be continually guided by the Holy Spirit. She will be growing in an understanding of the operation of the human mind as well as in Bible knowledge. This will bring satisfaction into her life, and her usefulness will expand in the church and in the community where she has been called to labor.
Previously, professional counseling was confined more to the medical profession than it is today; it has now entered the fields of education and industry. Many who are not led by the heavenly Counselor are seeking recognition as professional counselors. Nor does ministerial responsibility clothe one with information, aptitude, and ability to guide the buffeted to sure objectives and to positive thinking. As a people we have been given heavenly instruction on how to deal with the suffering. This is our primary source of guidance in skillful counseling, a source we must never minimize by turning to mere human science. Nor should we assume an attitude of inferiority and become restive in our daily endeavors. None of us will be able to make a study of every science, but we may all become more skilled from day to day in the greatest of all sciences, soul winning.
We now have ministers among us who have developed true counseling skills. Some reserve a portion of their time each week for appointments in the pastoral office.
This plan has its place in our larger centers, provided it is not undertaken as a substitute for personal work in the homes of the people. The pastor's assistant and the Bible instructor may be called on to help in this counseling work, which soon becomes very fascinating. In some areas our ministers have become very conscious of such counseling techniques, and this newer science in the ministry impresses them as being the best way of doing personal work. Here let us remember that a little education can be a dangerous thing. The art is still in the hands of a few ministers, and fewer Bible instructors. We are not ready to surrender our contacts with people in their homes. However, if some must supplement their Bible work with counseling at the church office, let them do so. The pattern is still a God-ordained work.
But let us not become too constricted in our vision of service. The Bible instructor's work in our medical institutions may require psychological counseling and a knowledge of related sciences. The many distressed and nervous people who come to our institutions for help must be cared for, and intelligent planning by administrators will provide workers who can fill this need. These special talents are in place in the medical field and belong to the gifts of healing (1 Cor. 12). The chaplain's assistant or Bible instructor may be called on to do more comforting and counseling than direct Bible teaching, but she will also do the latter. The average Bible instructor is not ready to do this type of work without specialized preparation.
Another consideration might be the title such a worker should carry. Professions have their distinctive titles, but whether we should always follow the ways of non-Adventists in such matters is open to question. Adventism has a right to its "traditions," and God has always blessed us when we have remained distinctive.
God is laying the burden of this calling on the hearts of our most consecrated young women just as definitely as He is extending the call to the ministerial candidate. They are finding the Bible work a most satisfying gospel ministry. We commend our conference presidents for helping in the selection of such promising Bible instructors for their fields. The Bible work is on the upgrade!
L. C. K.