Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Prefield Counseling

I have been depending too much on myself. I'm trying to be as prepared as possible to live in a remote village and to work with the Yala people so they will have and internalize the WORD of GOD. Recently, I was struck. I've been preparing academically, physically, financially, medically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, etc. This week I feel the Lord told me, "My turn." I don't quite know what this means, but I'm praying. Last night, as I was thinking about it, something bizarre popped into my head. Premarital counseling. No, I'm not anywhere close to getting such a thing.

Okay, so this is still pretty confusing in my mind, so I can't imagine what you readers are thinking. Think about what I'm saying, and feel free to respond. I feel like I am entering a season of refining. I pray that I will be like the clay in the Potter's hands as described in Jeremiah 18 and by my friend here. Is it a coincidence that the idea behind premarital counseling popped into my mind right after I felt like God was say that it was His turn to prepare me?

What is the purpose of the counseling?

It is to help insure that your love and the commitment you are making are protected in ways that help them flourish and grow. What is the purpose for the commitment? What are the good things, the bad things, the hopes, the dreams, the expectations, the potential disappointments, the personal goals? Counseling offers the opportunity to explore and evaluate prayerfully the commitment and situation in a relatively safe and constructive environment. It is primarily done to help prepare for a new season of life.

After analyzing this with my overly logical and practical mind, I have come to the conclusion that I need this. I don't admit to needing a lot, but why on earth would "premarital counseling" pop into my head after I sensed that Lord saying that it was His turn to train me?!?! I am going to a new season of my life by committing to the ministry of Bible translation in Africa, and I'm going to keep praying about the idea of getting counseling for many of the same reasons for premarital counseling. I need to remember my calling, and be intentional with striving to live a life worthy of this calling (Ephesians 4:1).



  1. Ruthie, one of the things that most pastors need to remember and you should remember is that you are not a trained counselor. You are a minister of the Gospel. Witht that said I think the best things you can do are to walk a couple through the Scriptures and what they teach about man and woman and marriage. Second, get them talking about the tough questions that they probably don't want to think about yet. I have no idea what Nigeria is like but often here in America people are so set on the wedding that they will say whatever the pastor wants them to the goal is not so much for you to counsel (because you really aren't qualified to)but its to throw out questions and topics and get them thinking and talking. That's my theory anyway. Also, in the premarital counseling manual that I had to put together in seminary but have yet to use, the third thing would be going through the marriage rite with them (i.e. declaration of intent, vows)and start talking about the meaning and seriousness of those things so its not just lipservice to get to the wedding night, etc.

  2. First of all, which Joe are you?
    I'm assuming you're my bro, but I know multiple Joe's who have been through sem.

    I definitely don't want to give any counseling. The post is more about my thinking about the purposes of counseling and applying the ideas to a prefield version. I've come to a point where I'm thinking that this may be important for my walk with the Lord and my evaluation of the commitment I am making. I know it's pretty confusing. I was mainly wondering why organizations don't have prefield training premarital counseling style. It seems so natural to go through that process. Maybe they do and I just haven't recognized it.

    Thanks for the advice too. It was pretty valuable. Although, I do hope that I never have to give counseling especially since I am totally unqualified. I may be incredible but I'm also uncredible. Harhar just kidding.

  3. Ruthie, this is your bro Joe...and the truth is I never read the last paragraph of your post. I assumed you were thinking that the situation might arise where you might need to speak to a couple preparing for marriage. That situation might arise; y'never know. Anyway, haven't your meetings and little training sessions with LBT been in a sense a prefield version of premarital counseling? I'm assuming but I know very little. I'm guessing you are looking for more one on one time talking about anxieties and situations you may face. The truth is in marriage, in ministry or missionary work, nothing can really prepare you for what you are going to face in its entirety. Like many things, they are learned in the school of hard knocks. You already got what you need the most to prepare you: A call from God and His Word constantly at your disposal. But it wouldn't hurt to keep picking the brains of fellow missionaries and let them pick your brain...iron sharpens iron. And it is always good to have a spiritual leader to turn to for confession, encouragement, just to talk, whatever. I'm sure you have that but if you don't-find it-pastor, fellow worker, a mature (preferably older)member of the faith. it will reap benefits. You know you are sometimes going to feel all alone, but don't be alone on purpose. I know you won't but its just a reminder.

  4. Just remember that God will provide for every need.

    "Be still and know I am God"

    Often we wan't to do things and succeed, but all in all it's God who does it through us.

  5. In premarital counseling that I did, one of the key components was to address expectations and try to bring a reality check. I have found that most of us can deal with just about anything if our heads are in the right place, we have realistic expectations, and are remembering that God is guiding and orchestrating the circumstances we find ourselves in. So, some devotional thinking, reading, and praying along those lines as you consider what comes next for you would be some great 'premarital counseling'

    Much love,
    Rich for Maya and the Crew


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