15 Important Counseling Tips For Pastors

From time to time, depending upon the size of your congregation, you will be asked to counsel with people one on one. This type of ministry is not for the novice and can actually ruin a ministry. There must be adequate preparation for each session and a pastor must know what he is doing. This post seeks to share some practical tips for pastors who attempt to counsel their members.
(These 15 tips are derived from The Guide To Practical Pastoring by C. Sumner Wemp) 

#1 – Schedule A Time To Meet: It is preferable to delay the meeting at least 24 hours. This gives the person a time to think through and allow passions to subside. The session will be more objective.

#2 – Have A Specific Place To Counsel: It is wise to have your counseling session in your office and not your home or theirs. This can help the atmosphere, and minimize interruptions.

#3 – Always Begin With Prayer: A counseling session without God’s presence is a waste of time!

#4 – Try To Stay Relaxed: If you are uptight, then it causes everyone in the room to be the same way. This makes the session that much harder!

#5 – Never Appear To Be Pressed For Time: Every pastor is short on time. If you appear to be in a hurry, then your visitors will sense that. They will either not share everything they should or they can develop a guilt complex and not confide in you.

#6 – Pay Attention: Look people in the eye and make them feel that you are paying attention. Do not fake this, but be absolutely genuine! No person is beneath you!

#7 – Know When To Keep Your Mouth SHUT: This is hard for pastors and preachers. Sometimes it is best to say nothing at all! Your opinion can be helpful, but you are not infallible.

#8 – There Are Three Sides To Every Story: Their side, the other person’s side, and the TRUTH.

#9 – Reverence Confidentiality: Everything said in a session must stay in the session. Never assume that anything is okay to speak about with someone outside the context. People need to trust you as a counselor.

#10 – Don’t Assume Or Jump To Hasty Conclusions: More people are hurt and damaged by these two things than anything else in a counseling session.

#11 – Ask Questions: ALWAYS ask questions! Get to know the person. Make SURE you understand what they are saying!

#12 – Be Careful About Long Sessions: 30 minutes to an hour is ample time for the average counseling session. The amount of time for each session should be conveyed when the meeting is scheduled.

#13 – Study The Word Of God For Solutions To Common Problems: The book of Psalms and Proverbs are always good sources of wisdom. They are easily understood and digested. Have references written down to various topics in a handy file.

#14 – When Offering Advice, Try To Teach A Scriptural Principle: Always convey what you are advising with a Scriptural principle.

#15 – Admit That You Do Not Know EVERYTHING: People know that you do not know everything, so do not pretend. Admit your lack and offer to find an answer to share on a later date!


Most counseling can be done through sound, expository preaching. When a session is needed, soak it in prayer and give it all you have. God will honor this!

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Originally posted 2011-02-07 00:01:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

About Andrew Schank

Andrew Schank is an Independent Baptist Missionary/Pastor who loves to blog about spiritual matters! His main ministry website is http://www.togetherinthegap.com. Andrew is also a contributing author to two other blogs/websites including http://linked2leadership.com and http://www.ifbkjv.com. Pastor Schank's Church website is http://www.greatcommissionbaptist.org
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  • Corey Smith

    Andrew, tip eleven is what I found to be very helpful when it comes to doing pastoral counseling. It seems like listening is always the clue for anything especially when it comes to people who go up to someone that they trust the most. Hey, I’m sure there are others like me who would appreciate talking to someone that pays close attention at what we say. http://www.newarkschooloftheology.org/counseling-and-ministry/

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