Maybe the change that comes to mind is your own, or maybe you are wondering about someone you care deeply about. For lasting change to happen, Jesus consistently reminded us that our hearts need to change first. Solomon stated this principle powerfully in Proverbs 4:23 stating, “Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.”
If you are going to counsel effectively, you need to carefully consider how reaching the heart determines many aspects of the counseling process. Careful counseling accurately defines the heart and the addresses how our hearts function in three distinct ways:
- Emotions – Our heart is the source of what we desire and feel. (Psalm 37:4-5)
- Thoughts – Our heart influences every thought we think. (Matthew 9:4)
- Behavior – Our heart guides every action we take. (Matthew 15:19)
All counseling, no mater what theory or philosophy, seeks to address a combination of feelings, thoughts and actions. Skilled counselors focus their efforts on addressing disordered emotions, negative thought patterns, and problematic behavior. Yet, without a biblical understanding of the heart, the end result is often to create better functioning rebels who are independent from God rather than dependent on him.
Because the heart is the source of true and lasting change, our counseling must reflect and address how the heart functions.
What happens when we focus our help on behaviors, not thoughts or desires? Or just on thoughts or desires?
For instance, someone may change behavior because they understand the consequences and aren’t willing to risk it, but would if they could. Also, addressing someone’s feelings may help them cope better with anxiety or depression, but leave them helpless to truly changing misguided thinking. Minimizing feelings leaves one no better off.
All three aspects of the heart work together in synergy to produce lasting change.
Our faith is the key to engaging our desires, thoughts, and actions. Jesus sought to increase faith in of those who were broken to help them find wholeness in him. Jesus transformed hearts by increasing their faith. Think about how often he said “Your faith has made you whole.”
When you are seeking to help someone whose thoughts, desires and actions reflect the brokenness of this world, you must interact with their heart and faith. If your goal is to help people understand the brokenness that is in their heart, how does one go about that?
Only the wise counsel of scripture leads us to the Redeemer who restores the hearts of all who faithfully seek him. We should not try to change hearts on our own, but bring ourselves and lead others to the One who can change and heal broken hearts.