The interview process can be quite a dance no matter what profession you’re in. Early in that process Jim gave me a very valuable gift. I think it was the first day we spent getting acquainted he looked and me and said,
  • “If you ever feel like you need to go to counseling, go. We have and it has been very helpful.”
That was something I hadn’t ever heard another pastor say. It was 1990 and in our circles when pastors mentioned counseling it was in regards to offering it, not receiving it. Jim was casual but also very matter of fact. He wasn’t fishing around in my past or gathering information on a prospective employee. He was just being transparent and his transparency gave me permission to be human. 
Everyone needs someone in their life to remind them that being human is ok. 
Jim knew in the throws of ministry (or really leadership of any type) life can get very messy and sideways and squirrelly. We can get fatigued. We can forget who we are. We can start reading our press, whether they are glowing reviews or scathing critiques. The point is – there are times when we need to talk to someone who is trained at helping people sort things out on emotional and psychological levels…and it’s ok.
Honestly, I haven’t gone to counseling each time I’ve needed it since Jim’s encouragement 24 years ago. But there are a number of times I have. Those were times I heard two voices. One was the whisper of the enemy. One was the invitation of the Holy Spirit…who’s voice, by the way, sounded just like Jim’s. 
Let me assure you that when you start to seriously consider going to counseling the whisper of the enemy may become a shout. “You don’t need that.” “What will people think?” “You are a failure.” Just as in the garden the deceiver always becomes the accuser. But will you hear the other voice of invitation? Is there someone you’ve let in who has given you permission to be human?
Pastors aren’t the only ones who need to heed Jim’s suggestion. People in most helping professions share the same struggles; medical professionals, educators, social workers, and managers of all types. We each need someone in our life to speak the words, “If you ever feel like you need to go to counseling, go. We have and it has been very helpful.” It’s ok to be human.
So let me be that voice for you today. 

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