The other week, I had a student whom I have counseled before come up to me and ask me if I could meet with a friend of his who has gotten into some trouble. He said because I have helped him out in the past, he thought I could maybe help his friend out as well. The only thing is, his friend is not Christian, he doesn’t really know what he is or if he has any belief system. All he knows is that I have helped him and his friend is open to meet and hang out. So we set up a lunch. I bet his happens all of the time with students who are in our ministries who want us to get in contact with their friends. The meeting is awkward, yes, but I wrote down some thoughts when meeting with a non-Christian for some counseling
- Don’t forget the obvious: know and love the person.- When meeting with something who is not Christian, it always involves building a friendship. Get to know them. Ask them questions. Express your appreciation of their willingness to come meet. Show tenderness and compassion for them. Be open about yourself while you are spending time with them. Listen well and discern what is important. Ask them how they are doing and really mean it. We are allowed to care for a friend who is not Christian, why should counseling be different?
- Help the person look in the mirror.- Help people see themselves accurately. No one does this instinctively. The questions, comments, and reflections you offer have a purpose. They guide non-Christians to articulate their world and simultaneously begin to reinterpret it. Here are some categories of questions you might want to ask: Questions that bring out good that is already present. Questions that flesh out significant life situations. Questions that pin point behaviors. Questions that help show their priorities in their lives. These questions can help them find out where their hope lies. It can help them see more clearly who they really are. True self-knowledge is huge! Knowing what they are about and why and discovering that can be a huge awakening and they would be “holing up a mirror” to their own life. This then gives us the opportunity to share with them the amazing news of Jesus.
- Find out what the person thinks about God.- Every person who is not a Christian has a reason for not being a Christian. It could be from they never gave it a chance, someone who called themselves a Christian hurt them, they were burnt by a church, etc. there could be many reasons. Understanding the “God”- Christian or otherwise – a person is serving or rejecting is very, very helpful. When we are counseling, this is a ministry and ministry is evangelism. We strive for a friendship and then the next step is speaking about and letting them know the Good News of the Good Shepherd. What happens when someone acknowledges shame, guilt, wounds, wickedness, weakness or loneliness? That person becomes more open to a Shepherd who laid down his life so his sheep could have glorious, endless, forgiven, painless, shameless,eternal life with God as part of his family.
Does this always happen. Not at all. I pray it does. When it doesn’t, we don’t know what the seeds we sowed will do in the future, but we do know at this time in their life they knew they had a loving adult leader love on them in their time of need and they will never forget that. There has been a number of times in which after I met with students who “moved on” who I have not heard from for years and I get a call saying “Thank you” for that “one time.”
I hope this was of some help. I know when I am counseling students, I try to keep these things in mind.