Change always demands a deeper understanding of the things of God and a more careful application of those truths to our lives.  Change is a lifelong process and won’t be over until we’re in glory.  As we encourage change, dealing with the needs of the present moment is not the highest priority but it is answering God’s call to holiness (Lev 11:44).[1]

Counseling seldom deals only with the original problem but also ends up tackling layers of difficulty that have been created by “solutions” that addressed the needs of the moment but did not keep God’s ultimate purpose in view.[2]  Paul presents a long view of living in 2 Cor 11:1-3 in that today is preparation for tomorrow while tomorrow is preparation for something yet to come.  The difficulties, suffering, disappointments, and blessings of the now are preparation for the wedding then.[3]Our whole life is a form of “premarital” counseling where we’re being prepared to be the bride of Christ as the Church.  Teaching others how to solve the problems of today with the then in view is one of the most important things we can do because it is not something that we sinners do well on our own.

We often quit too soon because we’re tempted to think that change has taken place before it actually has.  We confuse growth in knowledge and insight with genuine life change.  Insight is not change and knowledge should not be confused with practical, active, biblical wisdom.[4]

In the process of helping others to change we must pursue four objectives:

  1. Establish your personal ministry agenda to provide a sense of direction.
  2. Clarify responsibility.
  3. Instill identity in Christ.
  4. Provide accountability.[5]

Tripp unpacks each of these objectives in order and provides significant, usable detail for each:

  1.  Establish your personal ministry agenda
    1. What does the Bible say about the information that has been provided?
    2. What are God’s goals for change for this person in this situation?
    3. What are some biblical methods for accomplishing God’s goals?[6]
  2. Clarify Responsibility
    1. There are three classes of people:  (1) irresponsible, (2) overly responsible, and (3) genuinely confused.  Each needs a different approach.[7]
    2. He presents a helpful circle of responsibility that helps clarify responsibility.[8]
    3. He boils the Christian life down to trust and obedience.  We must learn to entrust the things that are outside of our control to God (Circle of Concern) while being faithful to obey clear and specific commands (Circle of Responsibility).[9]

[1] Tripp, Paul.  Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands.  P&R, Phillipsburg. 2002. Page 239

[2] 240

[3] 241

[4] 242

[5] 244

[6] 246-248

[7] 251-252

[8] 250

[9] 255