This raises the questions for ministers, "How should one counsel the opposite sex? Some ministers claim, "I don't counsel those of the opposite sex." The problem with this statement, is that it's hard to live by. For example, a 3-minute hallway conversation, 20-minute phone call, or a two-hour church trip bus ride can all include counseling.
Many people think of counseling as an one-hour appointment in the pastor's office on a Thursday morning. That might be the case in some instances, but as people seem to be more busy, many ministers will regularly provide "sidewalk counseling" - you run into someone and they're asking you a quick, "What should I do?" counseling question. Even the minister who proclaims, "I don't do counseling" - either through email, text, or Facebook messenger - will find himself giving counsel, even to women.
Here are three guidelines for ministers when counseling women:
1). Answer every question with, "What does the Bible say?" Scripture speaks more truth than man's wisdom. Know your boundaries. Only God can change people, restore relationships, and forgive sins. God's Word doesn't return void (Isaiah 55:11).
2). Accountability is always your friend. Secrecy breeds sin. A minister can have a private conversation but not be in private. Billy Graham once described counseling a woman in the middle of a restaurant, with no one nearby, but everyone looking at them. Your spouse should always have access to email, social media, and texts. Electronic conversations are private, yet in question, should quickly become public.
3). Know your resources. If a crime has been committed - physical abuse, sexual assault, or illegal drug possession - the police must be notified. If ongoing counseling is needed, a minister should refer the lady to an ACBC counselor. One of the names of God is, "Counselor," in John 14:26 - He's the greatest resource a minister can turn to.
When a minister doesn't point people to truth - it's unkind and unloving. When people come to you for counsel, they're saying, "I trust you. Speak truth into my life." The man of God takes every opportunity to point people to Christ.