Peer Counseling: Discerning 3 Constants as a Counselor

“What is the hurting person’s root desire or concern?  What is their current goal related to that concern?  And do they feel safe with me right now?”  Those are three constants that every parent, supervisor, friend, coach, etc. needs to discern when counseling those under their care.  That doesn’t mean we need to know everything about counseling.  We don’t need to be able to read their mind.  And we certainly don’t need to have all the answers or even a pocket-full of advice to speed them on their way, happier and more successful.  It does mean we need to listen constantly.

We need to listen constantly to God’s Word and Spirit in our own lives to know the basics of His good will.  Then we will be better able to discern if their concern and goal lines up with the Lord’s or not.  We need to listen for the heart of the hurting person.   Are they telling us what’s really bothering them, or are they beating around the bush, hesitant to reveal their true concern?  Or do they even know?  And we need to “listen” to the dynamics between us as we talk.  How are they perceiving themselves and the counselor from moment to moment?  Do they see us as safe and engaging, merely a sounding board, a stranger to their pain, or something else?  Their level of trust in us will greatly influence how they receive our counsel.

And, most importantly, how do they see Jesus in these processes, if at all?  They may not even have any belief in the Lord.  Even so, because God made us in His image for relationship with Him through Christ and because we are fallen in sin, all concerns and goals will either be for the glory of our Creator and Re-Creator or the glory of a created thing or person (Romans 1:21-25), either trusting in His grace or our efforts (John 15:5), and based either on what He has declared as good or what we say is good (Genesis 3:4-5).

Last week, we began our series on peer counseling with a detailed look as Posture and Assessing or Conveying Value/Interest.   This week, we continue our study of basic counseling dynamics and skills.

Consider the following discussion prompts and related Scripture passages.

  • What does God’s Word teach us about some of the practical ways to discern others’ root desires/concerns? (Genesis 26:8, 2 Samuel 19:24, Judges 7:4-5, 1 Kings 3:16-27, Haggai 1:1-5, Matthew 6:21 and 7:17-20, Mark 10:36 and 51, Acts 17:22-23, Galatians 5:19-23, etc.)
  • Describe the Lord’s most basic will and some of the sub-categories of that good will. (Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21 [note the 4th Commandment in each], Matthew 22:36-40, Romans 13:8, Galatians 5:14, James 2:8)
  • What evidence (other than miracles from prophets and Apostles) can we provide to build others’ trust in ? (1 Samuel 18:5, 2 Samuel 3:31-39, Acts 2:42-47, 1 Peter 2:12, etc.)
  • In what practical ways did Nehemiah build trust with his fellow Israelites? (Nehemiah 2:1-8, 2:11-18, 4:15-23, 5:1-13, 5:14-19, 7:1-4, 8:9-12, 12:31-47, 13:1ff)
  • What are some of the truths that God’s Word teaches regarding the careful process of selecting and communicating godly goals (Habakkuk 2:2-3, Psalm 37:4, Proverbs 3:5-6 and 22:5, Luke 14:28, John 4:34, Romans 12:1-3, etc.)
  • Similarly, how does God’s Word advise us on working toward godly goals? (2 Chronicles 15:7, Proverbs 24:27, Matthew 19:26, Philippians 3:13-14, 2 Peter 1:3-11, Hebrews 12:1-3, James 4:13-14, etc.)


If you found this video to be helpful, you might also benefit from my article, 4 Areas of Counseling in Christ.  thoughts on the 12 times the book of Proverbs refers to a “person of understanding” in the series similarly named, Counseling as a Person of Understanding.


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10435502_855049431182935_4536762765713190951_nUnless otherwise indicated, Jeff Dillard is the author of all posts in this blog, the goal of which is your greater joy in Christ through leadership and counseling.  Jeff and his wife, Lauren, have been married since 1995.  By God’s grace, they have four wonderful children and two grandchildren.  Jeff was ordained by the Presbyterian Church in America and commissioned as an Army Chaplain in 1998.  He has Master’s degrees in Divinity, History, and Counseling.  Since 1998, he’s had the privilege of equipping and encouraging others’ faith and service to the Lord Jesus by leading congregations and counseling in multicultural settings across the United States.  Seven of those years have been in Germany, Korea, and Iraq.  For leisure, Jeff enjoys simple time with his family, exercise, playing guitar and trumpet, and trying foreign foods with friends.

Please note that the contents of tools4trenches do not necessarily reflect specific beliefs or practices of organizations in which Jeff works or worships.

You can also follow Jeff on Facebook or Twitter.


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