In this post I'm answering a question that someone sent in after reading my blog about what I do prior to counseling someone. The person commented that he was having trouble getting people to fill out a Personal Data Inventory form and reading and doing the homework he assigned. He mentioned that the people were not academically oriented and wanted my perspective on what to do. He said he was thinking about working through the forms and the homework when he met with them. I include my answer in this blog because this is the thype of question I have been asked on numerous occasions and thought it would be helpful to others as well as the person who wrote the question
Here is what I wrote in response to his comments and question. I think your idea of working through it with them is a good alternative. Teaching them how to think and the importance of thinking biblicaly is important. It was Martyn Lloyd Jones who said that a Christian is and must be a thinking person. The issue is that people do think (Proverbs 20:5), but they think superficially and mostly unbiblically. That's one big reason why they have the problems they have and why their Christianity is a mile wide and an inch deep. Interestingly enough, for the most part the Puritan pastors ministered mainly (though not exclusively) to working class people. And when you read their writings and sermons you know that to get any profit from them people (even working class people) had to think. I have known many working class people and still do who are thinkers. You probably do also. I came from a working class background (parents were farmers) and, by God's grace, I have learned to think. Be patient with them, encourage them, help them, lovingly challenge them to stir themselves up and use the minds that God has given to them to promote depth and spiritual growth. Again, I say, the problem is not that they can't think – the problem is that they may be lazy and have trained themselves to think superficially and unbiblically. They may be hard workers in other areas, but for some reason, people have not been trained and often seem unwilling to work hard in the most important areas of life. And that's part of what pastoring and counseling involves. It involves identifying the areas of deficiency in the lives of people and patiently teaching them the biblical perspective on those areas and then humbly and consistently motivating, encouragingand training them to do what the Bible says. Again your idea of working through the PDI's and homework assignments may take some of the fear out of it for them and motivate them to see its importance and its helpfulness. Sometimes people fear doing something because they don't know how to do it and perhaps why to do it. As a pastor, you have the opportunity to help them see that it is not really as difficult or useless as they may think. We must gently and persistently teach,correct, motivate and train people while we pray that God would grant them a change of mind and life to embrace the truth. God bless you brother as you serve Him and seek to hold forth the Word of life in what you describe as a very secular culture. Remember 2 Corinthians 9:8 and press on. Thanks for your comment and question. Great to be on the same team with the same Captain and Lord. He is able; He has won and by His grace we will win also (Romans 8:37; 2 Corinthians 2:17, 3:5,6) I've read the end of the story I know the end of it all (John 16:33) It's always a privilege to serve Him and His people, even though at times they may appear to be resistant and stubborn.