Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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How to Minister to the Self-Righteous Counselee

Leslie Basham: Here’s Dr. Venessa Ellen.

Dr. Ellen: You know the old saying, "If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy"? I said, “Well, Mama needs to repent because Mama is walking around her house like she is God, and everybody else in the house is walking on eggshells because she has all these standards that she has elevated above God’s standards and made them THE standards. So guess who’s the god in the house?

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Brokenness: The Heart God Revives, for Friday, June 30, 2017.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: You’ve often heard me talk here on Revive Our Hearts about the importance of life-on-life discipling relationships, and I’ve encouraged you many times to embrace that calling and to get involved in investing in other women’s lives.

Now, there are a lot of practical steps and tools that can help us do that better, and today we’re going to hear from a woman who understands some of those tools involved in counseling, mentoring, and discipling other women.

Venessa Ellen is a pastor’s wife in Houston. She’s also a teacher and a counselor who’s encouraged many women in groups and one-on-one. She’s a professor of women’s ministry at the College of Biblical Studies.

The message we’re going to hear today is one she gave to other counselors, and she talked to them about the importance of having a humble heart—whether you’re giving or receiving counsel.

Now, chances are, you’re not a formal counselor, but I know you’re going to get a lot out of this message. And I’ve got to warn you: This isn’t just about helping other women to be humble. Dr. Ellen is also going to help you and me identify some self-righteous attitudes that may be in our own hearts.

Let’s listen.

Dr. Ellen: So I want to take a look at Matthew chapter 23, verses 1–7. Can we do that? All right, Matthew, chapter 23. Let’s go. It says:

Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: "The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men” (vv. 1–7).

So now, let’s look at an observation of this. Who’s talking? Jesus. And He’s speaking to the crowds and who else? His disciples. He’s making a point. So we can very well say that He’s speaking to us, can’t we?

The point He’s making is: He warns against imitating these Jewish leaders. This is a strong warning.

Now, I don’t know about you, but to be warned by Jesus is pretty critical. Right? It’s gotten serious now. Right? He’s warning them: “Don’t be like them.”

Now, let’s go back, because we just really want to get what’s being said here in the verse. Verse 1, let’s go back and let’s let it soak in.

“Then Jesus spoke to the crowds"—and who?

Crowd responds: "His disciples.” 

Are we disciples of Christ?

Crowd responds: Yes. 

So, is He talking to us?

Crowd responds: Yes.

“Saying: ‘The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not"—what?

Crowd responds: "Do them."

Now, do you think that we say things and do not do them? Do you think that our counselees look at us as telling them what to do but we ourselves are not doing it? 

“They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.”

Now, Jesus says, “The scribes and the Pharisees say things that they do not do.”

Have you ever had the opportunity where you’re talking to . . . How many of you have children?

My husband tells this story around the world: One year we were doing spring cleaning, and he went up to our youngest daughter’s room, and he threw open the door, and he said, “Oh my goodness! This room is just terrible.” And he goes on a full twenty-minute tirade. Right? “Ah-da-da, pick up the clothes that I paid for. Da-da-da.” He goes on a full rant. Right?

Now, I was sick. I have Lupus. Is anybody familiar with Lupus? So I was down and out. I don’t know what’s going on. I had been down and out for about a week, which meant that—what? Our stuff wasn’t where it was supposed to be. Because the person that puts it where it’s supposed to be was laid out in the bed. (laughter)

So he goes on this full rant, and then he comes down stairs and sees his part of the closet and goes, “Oh.” He had to march himself right on back upstairs and apologize to our youngest daughter. The very thing that he had told her was the very thing that he did not do.

See, too often, we as counselors are doling out this mass of information: “Wives, submit to your husbands.” And then you go home and be, like, “I’m not doing that.” (laughter) But we don’t see it as a lack of submission. We see it as just helping him understand the boundaries of the home. (laughter) Right? Right? But we’ve spent three hours in a session with a lady telling her, “You need to submit to your husband.”

Jesus is saying, “Don’t do what the Pharisees do. Don’t say things and then not do it.”

Jesus adds, “One must avoid imitating these leaders’ behavior because it’s inconsistent with their teaching.”

Now, how horrible is it if Jesus has to come to us and say, “Your life is inconsistent with your teaching”?

Let that sit in for a minute. “Your life is inconsistent with your teaching.”

How about we turn it around? “Your counseling is inconsistent with your teaching.” “Your lifestyle is inconsistent with your counsel.” Uh-oh. Does that strike home?

They do not practice what they preach. You see, the Greek literally reads: “They speak and do not do.” They speak and do not do.

How often do we do that? We do that with our children. We do that with our siblings. We often do that with our spouses.

They made demands without helping them to perform these demands.

Now, in the counseling room, we often have the opportunity to tell people what to do. Would you agree? We are there to tell them, to instruct them, to guide them, to lead them. That’s what we think. We’re really there to tell them what to do. Right? Or at least that’s the way we can perceive it sometimes.

So let me give you an example. Here’s a counseling example:

So you find out there’s a couple living in sin. They’re not married. They have been living together. And what do we say? “Move out. You can no longer do this. This is against God’s standard. You’re playing house. This is not a biblical covenant.” And we go right down the list, don’t we?

And then we go, “Okay, I’m going to need you to straighten that out and be back here Monday at 5 o’clock, and we’ll start this session all over again.”

But now, let me ask you this: How often do we follow that up with, “Hey, I’ve got an extra room. I’ve got a blow-up mattress. I’ve got some space. Why don’t you come and stay at my house until we get this worked out?”

In the counseling room, you have opportunity to instruct, to teach, and to guide. But you also have an opportunity to love. You have an opportunity to show the love of Christ. You have an opportunity to not be Pharisaical.

You see, sometimes we tell people, “Just obey for the sake of obeying.” Not, “Obey for the glory of God.” Not, “Obey for the righteousness of the King.” Not, “Obey to lift up the kingdom agenda.” It’s, “Just obey.” We can slip into legalism just like the Pharisees.

I want to go back. Let’s go back. “But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men” (vv. 5–7).

Jesus now warns against imitating the Pharisees’ performance of good works for human honor or reward. He warns against doing things for the approval of man.

You see, sometimes the problem as a counselor is we will not tell someone the truth about themselves because, “They might not like me as their counselor, or they might not come back, or they may talk about me.”

Yeah, well, they’re probably going to talk about you. But the Bible says, “Be careful when all men speak well of you.” Because you know what that means? If you haven’t rubbed somebody the wrong way in love with God’s truth, then I wonder what you’re telling them. 

And in counseling, that’s the job. That’s the role. That’s the position. Right? We agree to tell them the truth in love.

Now, it doesn’t mean that you don’t care about what people say. It doesn’t mean that you don’t care about what people think of you. But what it does mean is that you care more about loving them than you care about how they feel about you. “So, therefore, I’m going to love you so much that I really don’t care what you think about me.”

Do you understand what I’m saying? “I love you so much that I’m willing to offend you in truth so that you grow up in love.” You see, that’s real love.

You can’t be doing this thing that we’re doing for the approval of man because nine times out of ten, until your counselee repents, you won’t get that approval. Nine times out of ten, until the Lord grants them repentance, and they see the error of their ways, you are the enemy—to them at least.

Now, we know, “We don’t quarrel against flesh and blood.” We understand the spiritual warfare that they’re going in, but you are the object before them that’s making them face the reality of their sin. So who else are they going to be mad at until they get it right with Christ? So you can’t be doing this for approval of man.

Now, Jesus was telling them: “Listen: You wear these phylacteries.” Pretty big word. Right? It just means these small boxes that were attached to the left arm or the forehead, as on a headband. Can you imagine wearing a box around, a little box? Although, some of our headbands are pretty interesting. Right? But they wore these things on their head or on their arms.

The problem was: These boxes contained portions of Scriptures and a legalistic interpretation of the Shemah—particularly Deuteronomy 6:8—"Tie these commandments as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.” So they were taking this as a literal representation of Deuteronomy.

Here was the problem: Some hypocritical Pharisees would enlarge their phylacteries. Can you imagine: “The bigger the box, the more spiritual I am.” Right? “The more noticeable the box, the more spiritual I am. So I’m going to get one this big and tie it all around my head so that you know how spiritual I am.”

These hypocrites would also lengthen their tassels. The more noticeable the tassels, the more spiritual they seemed. So they would make their tassels long so that they would seem spiritual.

Crowd responds: Pride. 

Pride and what?

Crowd responds: Arrogance. 

Arrogance and?

Crowd responds: Self-righteousness, knowledge. 

Self-righteousness. Knowledge puffs up. Pride, people pleasing, lip service. But who is this all about?

Crowd responds: Me.

Now, what about us? We go into the counseling session, and we say, “Turn to Romans chapter 1.” And then we start quoting it for a person that doesn’t even know how to find Romans.

Or we go, “Oh (tsk, tsk), you’re going the wrong way, Darling. It’s this way.”

Or we go, “Oh, you don’t know all the books of the Bible? Oh, yes, there are sixty-six books of the Bible and da-da-da-da and da-da-da-da, and the Old Testament, da-da-da-da.” They just asked you where the bathroom is. (laughter.)

But do you all see how this can be a problem for us who learn, who go to school, who take classes, who have certificates, who have degrees? We know so much, we’re a little dangerous.

Let’s go back. “They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men.”

Jesus warns against the love of power and prestige and titles.

Now, who has the power in the counseling room?

Crowd responds: The counselor. 

The counselor. Right? Who has the title in the counseling room?

Crowd responds: The counselor. 

Well, yes, but usually it’s the counselor who has the title. They know they’re coming to you for help. Right?

Crowd responds: Yes. 

So, who’s there with the prestige?

Crowd responds: The counselor.

And it may even be that the counselee has come to you because she looks up to you. She’s watched your walk. She’s seen you with your spouse. She’s seen you with your children. She has seen you around the church, and so she admires you.

Now—maybe it’s that for some counselors—the husband doesn’t respect them, doesn’t treat them well. Maybe the church overlooks them, and on their job, they’re overlooked for positions. But in that counseling room, they are respected. They are admired. They are looked up to.

What is the potential problem here?

Crowd responds: Pride. 

Haughtiness and pride. The love of power.

Crowd responds: Yes. 

They love to be greeted with titles that underline their status and prestige. “I’m the counselor. I’m the this and the that. I’m the Executive Director of the Counseling Ministry. I’m the Executive Director of the Executive Director, the VP of the VP.” (laughter) Right?

Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with titles because Jesus is not teaching about a prohibition against titles. That’s not the point. Right? That’s not the point at all.

What He’s saying is: You shouldn’t be so arrogant as to think that it’s your title that got you sitting here showing somebody the way to truth. You shouldn’t be so arrogant as to think it’s your gift, or your skills, or your abilities, or your knowledge of the text that I gave you. You should humbly be called the counselor. You should humbly be called the Executive Director. You should humbly walk in these positions.

It’s not about not having a title because some people take this to extreme, and they go: “Oh, well, you shouldn’t be called Doctor. You shouldn’t be called Pastor. You shouldn’t be called . . .” That’s not the point.

In some places, titles have a necessary role. Do they not? If you don’t know who the leader is, then we are all just walking around following each other, and we don’t know where we’re going. Titles have a necessary place when used appropriately. But the wise and righteous person should know that their titles, positions, wisdom, and righteousness are gracious gifts of God.

Let me tell you something: I have five degrees. Don’t ask me how. (laughter) I have no idea. The only thing I can understand is that God uses the broken, the messed up, the totally out to lunch to do something for Him. I don’t know why I’m standing here. It’s because of the grace of God. And to get a PhD, do you know that there are only 2% of people in the world that have a PhD?

Now, it would be crazy for me think that I had anything in the world to do with that. So you’ve got to say: “You know what? You’ve got the privilege of sitting here and learning.”

But what if it’s not about you? What if it’s because God is using you to do something amazing and mighty in the lives of the women that you’re going to encounter? What if it’s just not about you?

So self-righteousness should not be in our playlist because it’s not about us. You’ve got to remember that God is using you for a particular purpose at a particular time. It’s kind of like Esther, “for such a time as this.”

See, just like I get to stand here by the grace of God for such a time as this, you get to go sit in that counseling room for such a time as this. When that woman is broken, what she’s going through when she’s lost her child, somebody has murdered or kidnapped her daughter, ser husband has left her for a younger model.

You get the opportunity to sit there and guide them through the grace and the truth of God. What does self-righteousness have to do with that? It’s only that God has chosen you to do that in that time, and we need to be respectful of His gracious gift. Would you agree?

Crowd responds: Yes.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness (vv. 25–28).

“So you, too.” You get it? “So you, too.” This is us. You see, when the counselee comes in to talk to us, we appear very clean and righteous and upstanding and we haven’t done anything a day in our lives that would be wrong. Right? But they can’t see the heart.

They can’t see the wickedness before God.

They can’t see that fight we just had with our spouse or the unloving things that we’ve said in our heart towards our boss. They can’t see that.

We appear clean and righteous, but inwardly, are we full of hypocrisy at all?

We have to be careful. Now, we’re never going to be perfect—for all my perfectionist people out there. We’re never going to be perfect because there was only One that was perfect. Who was that?

Crowd responds: Jesus. 

He is the only perfect One.

But you know what? Every day we should be being sanctified day by day by day. Every day we’re growing up.

You see, the Pharisees are called hypocrites because they look good on the outside, but the inner heart matters are wicked, full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

You know, as ladies, we can get it together, can’t we? We can put it together. We spray the perfume on. We put on the new lashes. Some of us go get us some hair. (laughter) You know, we can make it all right, can’t we? We can make it look very good on the outside. The problem is when the inside is rotten.

It’s that same Scripture text of putting the ring in the snout of the pig. We have to be careful of this because we are the counselors. Right?

Jesus’ challenge to the hypocritical leaders was to begin house cleaning on the inside, confronting the sinful attitudes of their heart. If the inner person is righteous, righteousness will flow out, resulting in outward righteousness as well. We need to begin house cleaning on the inside.

Now, what’s a good definition of self-righteousness? It’s certain that one is totally correct or morally superior. It’s a self-satisfaction, a sense of having arrived, of not needing much else.

Let’s deal with the first one: Certain that one is totally correct.

Now, you could have had 300 counselees. So now you understand. You know the end of the story. You’ve heard it all the time. It’s like being an OGBYN. You see the same thing all the time, over and over again. Right?

This could be your case. You see the same stuff all of the time. So you assume you know the story, and you know what her problem is. You know her heart. You know her motives. But what does the Bible say? Only the Spirit knows the motives of man.

So what do we do? We get into the counseling session, and we cut them off. We don’t hear the matter before we give an answer. What does the Bible say? We’re supposed to hear the matter. We know, we know. We already know what her issue is, so we cut her off.

“Come on, come on, come on. Get to the point. I know what’s going on with you, and I’m just anxious to tell you where you’re wrong and what you need to do right. Let me tell you. I’m the authority.”

You see, this is the problem. We’ve got to be careful of being certain that we’re totally correct.

Sometimes the counselor will say, “Oh, I don’t need to go to any more conferences. I don’t need to take any more classes because I already know. I went to that faith conference five years in a row. I’m good.”

When do you ever graduate from the learning school of the Bible?

Crowd responds: Never. 

Never, ever, never, ever, never. There should never be a time that we sit in a sermon and be, like, “Ugh, I didn’t get anything out of that sermon.” Wow! So the Holy Spirit couldn’t convict you or reveal truth to you at all? “There was nothing?”

Well, the Lord spoke through a donkey in the Bible, but He can’t speak through a pastor in your life at all. (laughter) Right?

We have to be careful of this, ladies. This is our thing where we really have to be careful.

Here’s the detriment of the self-righteous counselor, in John 1:8. Self-righteousness fosters a sinful human illusion of sinlessness. You see, sometimes as counselors, we help so many people, and they’re so grateful, and they’re so thankful, and they send you flowers and cards and gift cards to Starbucks and everywhere else that you start to actually believe your own press. You start to believe that you really are that good.

“Ah, yes, I helped her. Yes!”

And then, as the weeks go on, and the next one writes you, “Oh, you’re so lovely, and if you hadn’t spoken with me, my life is changed. It will never be the same because of what you said.” And before you know it, you’re believing your own press. And you start walking around the house, “You don’t know who I am. You better ask somebody. Ask my counselees; they’ll tell you. I’m all of that.” (laughter) Right?

We get the illusion of sinlessness. So what we start doing as the counselors is overlooking our own sin. It’s called the resume of righteousness . . . meaning, “I’ve done so much good. I’ve helped so many people, that my resume of righteousness is this long.” So then when you come to me and try to tell me something about myself, I go, “Pffft. That little thing? Come on. That can’t compare to my resume of righteousness. Do you know how many people I’ve helped in the last week? And you’re talking to me about arrogance?!”

But do you see the danger? This is a real danger for counselors because we do, by God’s grace, really do minister to people, and they really do take the truth, and their lives really does change. But guess who really didn’t do that?

Now, we were an instrument in the Redeemer’s hand. Right? We were an instrument He uses as He flows through us. But guess who really had the power.

Crowd responds: He did. 

He did. And if we don’t start saying, “Oh, glory be to God! Oh, glory be to God! Oh, glory be to God!” we will forget and start acting as if we are sinless.

Self-righteousness fosters a sinful illusion of sufficiency and freedom. Meaning, “I am autonymous. I am accountable to no one because I am the counselor. You can’t tell me anything.”

Do you know counselors are the hardest people to counsel? We are the hardest ones to counsel. Why do you think that is?

Crowd responds: We know it all. 

We know it all. And we really don’t know it all. We only know this much that God has allowed us to know. But there is so much more out there. But we are the hardest people.

It’s almost like trying to do surgery on a surgeon who wants to be awake during the surgery so he can tell the surgeon how to do the surgery. (laughter)

It’s us. We are the ones who have the issue, and we need to deal with it.

Here’s the thing: We get into this, “The way I do it is right, and no one else’s way of doing things is right. It’s my way or the highway. I know how to counsel people. I know how to get to the truth. I know. I know. I know.”

Who’s that all about?

Crowd responds: Me. 

Me, myself, and I. My interpretation. I alone understand Scripture, and I determine what is binding for everyone because I’m the self-righteous counselor. I know what’s right.”

It can’t be that in the session the counselee sees something in me and she tries to address it after the session, and I go, “Uh, you don’t know. I know because I’m the counselor.”

We get a sense of superiority going on. We get into being the head, a sense of being of greater importance or value in comparison with others, which can lead to arrogance and boasting. “I’m better than others.”

You see, what happens is you counsel so many people. So let’s take it this way: You counsel the adulteress, and you tell her she’s wrong. You go, “Uh, I don’t commit adultery.”

Then you counsel the prostitute, and you go, “Oh, surely I don’t do that.”

And then you counsel the person, the lady that’s abusing her children. “Oh, I would never do that.”

And before you know it, every situation is, “I would never do that. Therefore, I am”—what?

Crowd responds: Better than you. 

“I am better than you.” Then in our counseling sessions, we start to come across to her as if—what? 

Crowd responds: You’re better. 

We are better than her.

And you know how that looks? Do you know what that looks like? When someone says something, she says, “Oh, well, I just wanted to say that I need help because I’m in an adulterous relationship.”

“Well, I can’t believe you’d do something like that? How dare you, Sister So-and-So. How dare you. I’ve known you for two years. How dare you do something like that.” Superiority. Right? A sense of greater importance.

I always say we act like the Israelites. We act like we’ve forgotten from where we’ve come from. We’ve forgotten what Christ has saved us from. We have been saved so long that many of us have forgotten that we needed a Savior, that we truly were sinners in need of a Savior, that we didn’t come sliding out of our mother’s womb all washed up and pretty and clean and righteous before God. We were born in iniquity and shaped in unrighteousness. Right?

But so many of us have gotten so far away from that. We’re so clean now. We have forgotten that even your best is as filthy rags. And so then we start to treat others as if we’re better than them. It involves looking down on others and treating them as less than.

Here’s a couple of examples:

The counselor feeds off of telling others what to do. We really feed off of that. We feel good. The day is not good until I can tell somebody what to do. (laughter) It’s not a good day.

The counselor feels powerful as a leader, one in control of someone’s destiny. “I’m the leader.”

The counselor may even condemn people in their sin and withhold giving them any truth do to the counselor’s own self-righteousness. “You should have known better.” So instead of helping the young woman who is now pregnant outside of marriage, instead of helping her, we just say, “Well, I’m just not going to meet with you because you know better. I’m not meeting with her. She knew better than to do what she did.” True? Right? We have to be careful of this.

Let’s move on a little further. We have a separation from God. We get this god-complex. We are the god in the room telling people what to do. So we get a god-complex. And I have to tell you, ladies, some of us really do have a god-complex. We even have this in our homes.

Let me just digress for a moment.

Where are the married people in the house? Let me ask you something . . . Almost everybody’s married? Where’s the singles? All the single ladies? Do it again. Let me see. Oh, okay. 

Here’s how we do this in the home. Let me ask the married ladies: Which way does the toilet paper go on the roll? (laughter) Which way? Over? Over the top? Not under? Oh, okay, can you give me book, chapter and verse, where . . . It’s not in there? 

Oh, okay. So, let me ask you this: So does the toilet seat belong up or down?

Crowd responds: Down! 

And book, chapter, verse, where is that? (laughter)

(Someone in crowd responds: Reese chapter 2, verse number 1.) 

Oh, and I love that because you’re leading me, girl. You’re baiting me. She’s saying, “I found it: Mama Happy 101.” (laughter) She just wants me. She’s baiting me. She’s baiting me in. (laughter)

Here’s what I always say, because I’ve heard that before. And they say, “Well, you know the old saying: “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” I say, “Well, Mama needs to repent.” Because Mama’s walking around her house like she is god, and everybody else in the house is walking on eggshells because she has all these standards that she has elevated above God’s standards and made them THE standards. So guess who’s the god in the house?

Crowd responds: Mama.

And when they don’t do it her way, they don’t put the toilet paper in, they don’t put the seat down, they do what she says do, then guess what? She treats them as if they have sinned. God-complex—it’s a bad thing, ladies. It’s a bad thing.

Scripture frequently speaks of God humbling the proud. You know, ladies, we need to humble ourselves so God doesn’t have to humble us. I don’t know about you, but He’s a mighty amazing God. He’s a big God. He’s a great God. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather humble myself because if He has to do it, it’s not going to be pretty.

Pride is viewed as a great evil because it involves pretending to a greatness and glory that belong rightly to God alone.

How many of you would take offense to being called a thief? I would! But guess what? Hold on. You’re all a thief. You’re a glory thief because we frequently steal the glory of God, especially in the counseling room. We frequently steal the glory of God. Pride and arrogance.

Let me move a little further. Arrogance or delusions of greatness on account of one’s achievements. Counseling example: Refuses to end the counseling session when the counselee is able to be released.

So, I’m talking to ladies who counsel, and I’m saying, “Okay, how long have you been counseling this lady?”

“Oh, six months to a year.”

“Okay. Well, what was her presenting problem?”

“Oh, she just came because couldn’t balance work and worship.”

“Six months to a year? What are you all talking about now?”

“Oh, well now I’m just walking her through the book of Romans.” (laughter)

“Well, so, is she able to tell you what her sin issue is? Is she able to know the right answer from the Bible? Is she willing to confess and repent? Has she made changes?”

“Oh, yes, yes, yes. We moved on from that.”

“Okay, then why are you still counseling her?”

“Because I’m teaching her.”

Do you see what I’m saying? We get so caught up in that god-complex that we refuse to release someone from counseling when they’ve been done. It soothes our ego. And we’re teaching them.

This is another reason why I’m always saying, “Why are you doing a Bible study with her when she’s trying to tell you what’s going on in her world? You’re not even listening. You’re so busy trying to teach and instruct and say what you know that you don’t even know what’s going on with her.” Refuses to end the counseling session when the counselee’s able to be released.

So what’s the answer for the self-righteous counselor? Dependence on God and not on self. Dependence on God and not on self. Now, this applies to the counselee as well because you have self-righteous counselees that are doing the same thing. They know everything. You’re trying to tell them the truth about their situation.

“I know. I know. I know, but . . .”

I call it the whole new theory on the I-know-buts, because no matter what you say it’s, “I know, I know, I know, but . . .”

So my next statement to them is then, “But are you living it then?”

So you do have some self-righteous counselees that you’re not going to be able to help because it’s a lack of will. They don’t want to repent.

Humility—that’s the answer for us and for them. So, the very same answer there is for us, is the very same answer for them: Humility. They need to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God. Amen?

Nancy: That’s Dr. Venessa Ellen in a message about the importance of having a humble heart, whether you’re being discipled or counseled, or you’re the one doing the discipling or counseling.

She’s given us a lot of practical wisdom about investing in other women in one-on-one discipleship. And each of us have been challenged to evaluate our own heart. As those wanting to provide discipleship for others, how have we had self-righteous attitudes?

Well, if this message has brought some of those heart attitudes to light for you, I hope you won’t just rush past this but that you’ll take some time and open your heart to the Lord and be honest with Him in confessing whatever He may have shown you.

And you can get even more advice on how to develop relationships and disciple others at a conference hosted by Revive Our Hearts in September. It’s called Revive’17: Women Mentoring Women the Titus 2 Way.

Now, this conference is already sold out, but I want to encourage you to put together a group of women who would benefit from going through this together and make plans to meet at your home or in your church or some other place and then watch together the livestream of Revive ’17, September 29 and 30.

You can sign up to be notified of livestream updates as we get closer to the conference. Visit us at, then click on events, Revive ’17, and then livestream.

And, oh, Lord, as we close our visit together today, I thank You for the words that Dr. Ellen has shared and the penetrating, searching power of Your Word to our hearts. Thank You for searching us by Your Spirit and exposing and showing us attitudes that may be self-righteous. Lord, if we’re self-righteous, if we’re proud, if we’re self-sufficient, how do we think we can minister effectively to others and help them to come to a humble place before You?

So, Lord, search my heart. Search our hearts. And change us. Give us humble hearts, hearts like the heart of Jesus, ready and eager and willing to receive all that You have for us. And then use us as instruments in the lives of others, I pray, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy.

Why did God make husbands and wives so different from each other? On Monday, Trent and Andrea Griffith will help you appreciate those differences, and watch your marriage thrive. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you find greater freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. It is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.