Counseling as a pastor is part of the fabric of what you do. Everything from your response to, “What do you think I should do?” to the couple asking if they can “meet with you.” Counseling is part-and-parcel for pastoral ministry. And this is one of the highlights of fruitful pastoring for most pastors. Jeremy Pierre and Deepak Reju have fashioned a quick resource to help busy pastors be more effective in their counseling. The Pastor and Counseling is a great resource for new-to-counseling pastors who are looking to sharpen and hone their counseling skills.
The Pastor and Counseling is a fitting resource to pastors who want to grow in (or initiate) one-on-one counseling within their personal ministry. It servers as primer for counseling conversations and condenses other biblical counseling resources down to some very effective information. The Pastor and Counseling is palatable too—just under 150 pages and despite its brevity it is still insightful.
The book has a few working assumptions as you come to this resource and that is that A, pastors will counsel and B, they will want to do this is a biblical capacity. If you are on board with both of those assumptions you will find this resource to be quite handy. However, if either of those assumptions chide with you it may not be as helpful as you desire.
The book has three broad sections: concept, process and context. These sections do exactly what one would think in approaching this resource for the first time. Concept lays a small foundation for the reasons a pastor should be engaging in limited pastoral counseling. The authors contend that, “Preaching is the vital and central ministry of the Word in the mission of the church.” And this gets any pastors heart pumping! This is then followed by the thought that the pulpit is “not the only place that the ministry of the Word happens in the life of the church” (25). We might even be able to massage this sentence to say, “is not the most frequent place that ministry of the Word happens.”
Because this observation is true, all pastors are counseling to some degrees therefore the book continues with some practicalities. Expectations, goals of counseling, nuts-and-bolts of counseling, and measuring success in counseling are all within this quick read. What makes this so fresh is that Peirre and Reju don’t truncate the pastors over-arching obligations as pastor. They both write with priority given to the pastors position as shepherd, and then counselor. This is seen in comments like, “In less urgent situations, the pastor should not feel guilty spending only a single meeting in which he encourages counselees to pursue growth through the more regular ministries of the Word, at least until his counseling load lightens” (44). This takes a wise-mature pastor to tell his sheep that he doesn’t have time to meet with them right now. That sounds harsh but has serious biblical undertones.
Where could this book improve? Well it doesn’t offer anything fresh for starters. In fact, it sounds like David Powlison’s article, “The Pastor as Counselor” but just not as thoughtful. Pierre and Reju have really consolidated for the busy pastor a collection of truisms and banal observations. This isn’t a slam, because I believe their intent was not to be strikingly fresh but to be helpful. And it is that—not fresh, but helpful. In fact, I would recommend that the busy pastor pick up this resource to sharpen and hone his counseling skills.
Overall, you will be glad that you read this resource. It is solid in terms of maintaining the pastor’s biblical obligations and it offers great advice for some of the worldview and how-to questions of biblical counseling. Don’t grab it looking for originality, but helpfulness. And if you take that view in approaching this resource, it will do just that for you.
Crossway provided a review copy of this resource.
 David Powlison, “The Pastor as Counselor,” The Journal of Biblical Counseling vol. 26, no. 1: 23-29.