I want to raise your level of confidence in your Christ-instilled competence to care like Christ. My purpose is to create in you an attitude of can do. “In Christ, I can do the ministry of spiritual friendship!”
So what qualifies you for one another ministry? Let’s see God’s answer.
The Divine Counselor’s Résumé Qualifications
Imagine that you are forwarding your résumé to the Holy Spirit, the Divine Counselor. What items would you highlight to demonstrate your eligibility to enter the ranks of soul physicians? What qualifies a person for the art of spiritual friendship? What qualities make you eligible to claim the mantle of soul care giver and spiritual director?
What do the Scriptures say? Fortunately, for those of us who desire to be people helpers, the Apostle Paul already completed our résumé.
“I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another” (Romans 15:14).
The 4C Résumé of a Spiritual Friend
In this verse and the surrounding context, we discover the “4C Résumé of a Spiritual Friend”:
*Character: “Full of Goodness”
*Content/Conviction: “Complete in Knowledge”
*Competence: “Competent to Instruct One Another”
Consider who Paul is addressing by his phrase, “brothers.” Are these pastors, elders, deacons, deaconesses, or former Jewish priests? Have they graduated from Bible college, seminary, or graduate school? Do they have degrees in psychology or counseling? Are they members of a mega-church or a church with a counseling center?
No. They are “average, ordinary” Christians in Rome. “Brothers” was the common designation of a believer regardless of gender, status, position, or rank. Based upon the surrounding context (Romans 16:1-16), Paul’s addressees are members of small house churches spread throughout the city and dotting the countryside of Rome. These men and women, converted Jews and Greeks, slaves and free, Paul considers competent to counsel.
Based upon Paul’s language, I conclude that Paul knew that his readers would be skeptical about their ability to disciple one another. I imagine them thinking, “Now Paul, perhaps you, a super Apostle, you are competent to counsel. Perhaps the other Apostles, also. Perhaps the great philosophers of the Roman Empire. But not us!”
Are You Confident about Your Competence in Christ?
Paul is quite emphatic in his language. The NIV accurately translates his emphasis, “I myself.” “You yourselves.” Paul’s addition of the personal pronoun to the verb produces emphasis by redundancy. Paul wants no mistakes. He’s positive that they’re powerful. “I, I myself. Inspired by the Divine Counselor; I’m telling you that I am absolutely confident in you, you yourselves. Yes, you lay believers, men and women. You yourselves are competent to counsel one another.”
Paul’s not making an assumption here. He says that he’s “convinced.” He’s confident in them, trusts them, and knows that he can count on them to competently counsel one another. He has faith in their spiritual ability, being inwardly certain because of external evidence. The evidence he offers provides the biblical prescription for soul physicians, the biblical résumé for spiritual friends.
The Rest of the Story
Paul’s convinced. Are you? Are you confident about your competency in Christ to care like Christ, to change lives with Christ’s changeless truth? When it comes to the personal ministry of the Word—to one another ministry in the Body of Christ—do you have a Christ-centered can do mindset?
You may ask, “But what does it look like in the real world to fulfill the 4C qualifications for spiritual friendship?” Glad you asked. Join our next post where we’ll start to explore the “4Cs” that make you competent to counsel.
Join the Conversation
If you were looking for someone to talk to about issues in your life, what qualifications would you look for?
Note: Excerpted from Spiritual Friends.