By Timothy Raymond –

While every pastoral counseling situation is unique, it’s also true that “no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man” (1 Corinthians 10:13; ESV).  I’m certainly not a professional counselor, but I have done enough biblical counseling to notice some patterns in thinking and interpreting problems.  If you do (or hope to do) any amount of pastoral counseling, the following are 20 statements you’ll probably hear at least once or twice (or more) in your ministry.  I’d encourage you to think through how you’d respond, and more importantly, what specific passages of Scripture you might connect to each situation.  God’s word provides us with “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3; ESV), but we pastors need to know how to bring the Bible to the issues that beset us.

1. “Why can’t I stop myself from doing _____________?”

2. “Why [this suffering]?”

3. “I’ve neglected my wife for 30 years and now she hates me.  Can you give us any hope?”

4. “If you were married to her, you would have done the exact same thing.”

5. “But doesn’t God want me to be happy?”

6. “Where did my infant go when he/she died?”

7. “What’s up with this predestination thing?”

8. “I don’t care if nobody sees any fruit of the Spirit in my life.  I prayed the prayer when I was 5 and that settles it.”

9. “I don’t think I’m saved but I really want to be saved because I believe Jesus is the only Savior and I’m sure I’ll go to hell without Him.” [Try untangling that one.]

10. “I’m really trying but I just can’t forgive him/her.”

11. “Do I need to forgive him/her if he/she doesn’t ask for forgiveness?”

12. “Constant guilt haunts me because of something evil I did 30 years ago.”

13. “Dude, my sexual desires are just a lot stronger than most guys.” [I think most guys think this.]

14. “Here’s my rebellious teenager.  I’ve brought him/her to you because I know that one good talking-to from you, Pastor, will straighten him/her out.”

15. “With all respect, Pastor, when you’re my age you’ll see things differently.”

16. “I just think you’re taking the Bible/Christianity too seriously.”

17. “I know I should read the Bible, but I’m just not much of a reader.”

18. “I know I should pray more/attend church regularly, but I’m just too busy with work/school/sports/hobbies/etc.”

19. “I can see why you’d say that, but I heard the exact opposite from Dr. Oz/Dr. Phil/Oprah/The View/etc.”

20. “I’ve prayed about _____________ dozens of times but nothing ever changes.”

Timothy Raymond is an editor for Credo Magazine and has been the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Muncie, Indiana since April 2006. He received his MDiv from the Baptist Bible Seminary of Pennsylvania in 2004 and has pursued further education through the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation. Tim grew up outside Syracuse, NY and previously served at Berean Baptist Church, Nicholson, PA (member and teacher during college and seminary) and Calvary Baptist Church, Sandusky, Ohio (seminary internship location). Tim met his wife Bethany at college, and they were married in May 2001. Tim enjoys reading, weight-lifting, wrestling with his three sons, and attempting to sleep.



  • I think it’d be wise as a first response to tease out exactly where these comments are coming from. Tying them to a particular Scripture for equipping and sanctification is good, but first we need to be careful to listen – both to our fellow brother/sister and to the Holy Spirit.

    As an aside, I think I’ve heard over half of these myself….good list.

  • Are you kidding? I think I’ve SAID these (either in my thoughts or out loud) my own self! And the need to constantly counsel myself with the Word and to preach the gospel to myself daily goes on… Cant share with others what I don’t have or aren’t living out in my own life!

  • In 12 plus years of being a pastor I have heard #5 and #20 many more times than all the others combined.

  • I doubt that God wants you to be happy (#5), but I’m sure He wants to produce love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, goodness, kindness, gentleness, and self-control in and through you. These trump happiness. These are better than happiness. You may find yourself happy, content, and satisfied (at peace and full of bliss) because the Holy Spirit has produced these fruit through your current suffering. Don’t settle for less than God’s best. “He who endures to the end shall be saved!” Keep the faith!

  • You’ve prayed ONLY dozens of times (#20)? Then, obviously, you haven’t been persistent enough. Pray without ceasing. Ask, knock, and seek until the righteous Judge grants justice to you, until God your Neighbor opens His door and gives you bread for your unexpected visitors. For over five years now, I have been praying relentlessly that God would help me lose weight. For the first two years, I gained weight or broke even. For the next two years, I saw slow losses. This year the dam burst, and the weight has melted away: 25 lbs in six weeks. In total, I’ve lost nearly 60 lbs. Praise the Lord for His faithfulness! I know the Lord loves me because He hears my prayers. I’m still praying! Let’s pray together until the Lord answers and gives you justice!

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