Pastor and Counselor

As time goes on, the role of a pastor as a counselor increases in importance.

M. K. ECKENROTH, Chairman, Department of Religion, Columbia Union College

As time goes on, the role of a pastor as a counselor increases in importance. There are many con­tributing factors to this truism but none is of greater significance than the recognition of the in­creasing tempo of the times in which we live and the pressures of our modern day. As students of divine prophecy, Seventh-day Adventists are convinced that everyday pressures will not diminish with the passage of time. This is in sharp contrast to the hopes and rosy promises held out to mankind by vari­ous political and social panaceas.

Pastoral "Noninvolvement"

As the membership of the church in­creases to that same corresponding de­gree interrelationships both within the church and the community grow more complex and more involved. More and more of the pastor's time and energy must be devoted to a sympathetic, understanding consideration of these needs of his congre­gation. There is no such thing as pastoral noninvolvement of the intimate life and fellowship of his people. In either case the age of conformity or the counter reactions inherent within nonconformist numerality involves the pastor most deeply in the most intimate details of the life of his congrega­tion.

The pastor today needs a sharpened and vital connection with God in order that he himself might possess those intimate quali­ties essential to communicate helpfulness, cheerfulness, and above all, love toward a troubled soul. Even so, regardless of the depth of spiritual experience, a new knowl­edge of technical skills and applied method­ologies is indispensable in the modern pastoral life and ministry. The most casual reading of the remarkable statements con­tained in the writings of the messenger of the Lord and in the pastoral Epistles of the Bible makes it abundantly clear that the ministry of consolation, of edification, of reconciliation, is the richest and most re­warding ever entrusted to the human agent.

Immeasurable Arsenal of Strength

Fortunately for the Seventh-day Advent­ist minister, there are many avenues of as­sistance available to him whereby his min­istry might be enriched, his experience deepened, and his vision broadened in re­spect to this important phase of his minis­try. First of all, the confidence and faith that the Seventh-day Adventist ministry has in the Bible is a source of towering strength both to him and to those for whom he min­isters in time of crises. The deep student of the Word of God has an immeasurable arsenal of strength upon which he can draw in an effective ministry of consolation. Sec­ond, the deep and abiding counsels of the Spirit of Prophecy offer to the Seventh-day Adventist minister a treasure house of counsel, techniques, and instruction far ex­ceeding anything available to any other ministry of the world. Third, there is a con­stant stream of excellent literature, books, and articles pouring from the presses of both denominational and nondenomina­tional publishing houses that can keep the minister informed and prepared to meet this great human need.

Harding Hospital Institute

To us, however, there is an additional base of strength that can give a most signifi­cant contribution to our development in this pastoral ministry. Each year a special institute is held in the Harding Hospital in Worthington, Ohio. Through the years those who have been fortunate enough to attend these institutes have gained invalu­able assistance for a successful ministry in the field of practical religion and ministe­rial service. Such areas as dealing with grief, disappointments, broken homes, shattered personal lives, along with the attendant dis­illusionments of everyday practical living that blight so many homes and lives, have all received special attention under the guidance of Seventh-day Adventist physi­cians, psychiatrists, and psychologists.

It is because of the expressed desire of these leaders to study and learn, with Chris­tian psychiatrists, the newest and best-known techniques and methods for han­dling problems that the institute on men­tal health was first launched in the year 1955 and has been presented each year since. It is our belief that there is a distinct advantage in studying in this area with peo­ple who share a common faith and religious point of view. It must be pointed out, how­ever, that these institutes are not designed to make psychologists or counselors out of the minister but rather to add another di­mension to his ministry and to help him understand the complex science of human behavior.

Students Taking Realistic View

Many of our young theological students in training are taking a realistic view of the world in which we live and the many problems that the modern minister faces in these tense, bewildering times. As a re­sult, many are taking a minor in sociology along with their theological course.

We feel that those men who have served in the field for a number of years and who have already completed their theological training will find it beneficial to take a re­fresher course such as this annual institute on mental health at the Harding Hospital. It is precisely for this reason that Seventh-day Adventist ministers, evangelists, chap­lains, teachers, academy administrators, physicians, deans of students, hospital ad­ministrators, conference officials, and de­partmental leaders have all participated from time to time in these institutes.

It may be that some who read this ar­ticle feel the need for this kind of assistance in their ministry or work, and if so, we heartily recommend that they correspond with Dr. George T. Harding at the Hard­ing Hospital, 445 East Granville Road, Worthington, Ohio. Since the enrollment is limited and applications are considered as they are received, it is important that attention be given to this without delay.

Truly, the time has come when no area of our work should be considered to be un­important or taken with casual interest. Our work is important to this judgment-bound world. Eternity looms ahead. Our Lord will soon return. May it be that when He comes He will find that we as workmen in His vineyard have used, to the best of our ability, all the tools and equipment He has provided His church in order that the work be speedily and faithfully completed.

Counsels From the Lord's Messenger

Love and Confidence Among Brethren

When men will show confidence in their fellow men they will come much nearer to possessing the mind of Christ. The Lord has revealed the estimate that He places upon man, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." But some minds are ever seeking to reshape the character of others according to their own ideas and measure. God has not given them this work to do.

Self will ever cherish a high estimate of self. As men lose their first love, they do not keep the com­mandments of God, and then they begin to criticize one another. This spirit will constantly be striving for the mastery to the close of time. Satan is seeking to foster it in order that brethren in their ignorance may seek to devour one another. God is not glorified but greatly dishonored; the Spirit of God is grieved. Satan exults, because he knows that if he can set brother to watch brother in the church and in the ministry some will be so disheartened and dis­couraged as to leave their posts of duty. This is not the work of the Holy Spirit; a power from be­neath is working in the chambers of the mind and in the soul-temple to place his attributes where the attributes of Christ should be.

He who has paid the infinite price to redeem men reads with unerring accuracy all the hidden workings of the human mind, and knows just how to deal with every soul. And in dealing with men, He manifests the same principles that are mani­fest in the natural world. . . . God works through the calm regular operation of His appointed laws. So it is in spiritual things. Satan is constantly seek­ing to produce effects by rude and violent thrusts; but Jesus found access to minds by the pathway of their most familiar associations. He disturbed as little as possible their accustomed train of thought by abrupt actions or prescribed rules. He honored man with His confidence, and thus placed him on his honor. He introduced old truths in a new and precious light.—Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 189, 190.

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M. K. ECKENROTH, Chairman, Department of Religion, Columbia Union College

July 1967

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