Potential Counseling Academy students often ask me this question as they contemplate beginning studies. They need a viable source of income and wonder if pursuing a Christian Counseling ministry call can pay their bills
The simple and truthful answer is, “Yes, indeed!”
A two-step approach can help frame a proper response.
First, every Counselor who wants to charge for their services must be firmly convinced that God is pleased, and not angry about their position.
Years ago, a woman at church got in my face and let me know she counseled people for free, was led by the Holy Spirit and did not need credentials to do it.
You need a truthful and heartfelt response to the argument that Jesus did not charge to help people and he told his disciples that they have received freely and were to give freely. There are quality answers to these; you should have them at the ready. Do not be embarrassed or apologetic for your stand.
Those who have studied and shown themselves approved, through Counseling degrees and professional licensing, distinguish themselves from those who fancy themselves as counselors because they some church friends seek them out for answers.
Second, develop an entrepreneur’s mindset.
Some think it will be easier to join a church staff or an established Counseling Center. Church staff positions with compensation are rare unless the flock is large and the pastor has that need. Established centers rarely run at overflow capacity and expect new counselors to bring in most of their own clients.
Believers often labor under a misconception because they are following the Lord’s lead (hopefully) and doing His business. They expect to sit back and reap a harvest without doing much sowing.
I’ve not seen that viewpoint prosper in many endeavors. Prayer, faith and hard work are critical elements of growing the business. The Lord will provide, but He expects us to both rest in Him and work at it with all our heart.
If you were trying to start and grow a restaurant, cleaners, consulting or tax business, most of the issues would be the same! We are junior partners in the venture, and those on the low end of the totem pool do the grunt work. It’s a fact, and the facts don’t change because we try to wrap a spiritual bow around what we are doing.
Yes, we can do all things as He strengthens us. Many fall back on Psalm 127:1-2: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”
Those verses can be misapplied if one believes that God is going to build their ministry for them. There is a healthy balance.
David is not saying God will do all the work. In context, it means that seeking the will of God and acting by it is essential to the success of any human venture. If God does not favor an undertaking, no amount of desire, precaution, effort, or worry on the part of those involved in it will be able to accomplish it.
Some ventures fail or fall short because strenuous human efforts alone yield limited results at best. Others wrongly believe, and subsequently get mad at God when He doesn’t deliver, that He will cause the phone to ring and clients to show up supernaturally. It can and does happen, but in tandem with man’s best efforts that are guided by His will and wisdom working in us.
God values order, creativity, and discipline. Fashioning solid plans to attract clients, make contacts to gain referrals and utilizing social media resources will bear fruit and are essential elements of building your business. If you lack expertise in an area, learn it, try to find some volunteer help or pay for it.
It’s not a sin, and it is perfectly acceptable to view your counseling venture as a business. Failure to operate from that viewpoint can result in broken hearts and unfulfilled dreams when things do not magically happen the way we expect.
Let’s be clear: people do not not choose a career in Christian Counseling to make a lot of money. Most are drawn to it, as I was, because of a heartfelt desire to help set the captives free. Those who have a poverty mindset believe God’s favor is upon them when they live in lack. That is a false belief and they will not likely see the financial blessing God has for them. But it’s there, if they will believe it and pursue it.
The Body of Christ desperately needs competent Christian counselors who are not ashamed of their calling, gifts nor charging for their services. When the word gets out, just like other successful enterprises, people will find you. It takes effort, time, wisdom and faith for fruit but it will come if He has called you to put your hand to that plow.
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