My favorite part about teaching at Johnson is: Clinical supervision of graduate interns as they counsel clients. As a supervisor, I get to see a bigger picture than just the interaction of therapist and client. I get to see how God perfectly brings together the gifts, talents, knowledge, and experiences of these interns in combination with my own knowledge and skill set. Further, I am able to witness God’s further weaving together of the therapist and supervisor with each client’s experience and challenges. The end result is an amazing picture of ministry in action. Sometimes, I’m even able to see a glimpse of the future as God uses clients who have experienced healing and health through counseling to in turn counsel others.
When I’m not teaching, I love to: Make signs–I have a small sign business that I began when I was an undergraduate student, back in the stone ages when signs were chiseled in stone. It is all computerized now. I also enjoy water sports, especially fishing and sailing. Finally, I have a developing love for woodworking, especially pen turning and building small projects.
In my classes, students can expect: Integration of knowledge gained from life and from assigned reading materials. This integration typically involves experiential activities in class and outside of class. For example, in the Group Dynamics course I teach, we spend one entire day at a nearby challenge course learning how to facilitate group interaction in meaningful ways.
My best advice to a new student in my program is: First things first. Develop a strong theological/scriptural foundation for “ministering as a counselor.” By that I mean each student should establish a counselor identity built on God’s calling and truth as found in Scripture. There will be times in the program when students are tempted to bail out. In those times, it is critical the student have a solid foundation of why he or she is preparing to be a counselor. There will be times after graduation that professionals will question their decision to be a counselor. Again, having a solid identity in Christ and in calling is essential to help stay the course.
Because of my influence, I most want my students to become: All that God wants them to be. I don’t say this lightly. Being a faith-based counselor is challenging in a post-modern world that is increasingly intolerant of Christ followers. Yet the intersect of mental and emotional health with one’s spirituality and faith is huge. A faith-based counselor who has a strong identity in Christ has much to offer.
The myth-busting truth about my discipline I most want people to understand is: Counseling is ministry. It is one of the attributes of the Messiah (“Wonderful Counselor” – Isaiah 9:6) and it is one of the primary roles of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). When Jesus began his three-year ministry, he quoted from the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Similarly, the ministry of counseling helps bring good news to the poor (those who are broken in spirit and heart). Counselors work with those who are in bondage helping them gain freedom from the prisons of addictions and other consuming behaviors and attitudes. Counselors help bring insight to those who have been blinded to truth either through circumstances or self-deception. Counselors join with Christ in setting free those who are oppressed with the weight of depression, anxiety, and a multitude of other challenges. Counselors are also able to celebrate with those they serve and minister to as they find recovery, release, and victory in life. Counselors join with Christ in the ministry of healing.
A quote that influences how I live is: “The most important thing,” answered Jesus, “is this: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).
Counselors are deeply involved in helping individuals (and couples and families) develop a healthy holistic love for self, others, and God.