Counseling is not an easy thing since we're dealing with the lives of people. We should take extra care to handle people, especially those who want to follow Christ, because one small mistake could have dangerous consequences. The Lord Jesus Christ warns us in Mark 9:42, saying:
"But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea."
A great responsibility
Counseling is a great responsibility. When people come to us for counsel or advice, they are actually seeking guidance to know what is the best way to deal with a particular matter. And since we are serving the Lord, we ought to give Godly counsel, the kind that would lead them closer to God while helping them handle their issues.
That said, there are a few crucial things we need to do before we give counsel to anybody. This applies to Christians from all levels of maturity: we all need to prepare and do our best in order to give righteous, Christ-exalting counsel.
Here are a few things Christians should do before giving any counsel or advice to anybody.
Before meeting anybody for the purpose of counseling, let us not forget to pray. God knows what the person is going through before they ever approach us, loves that person more than we do, and knows the perfect solution to their problems.
Think of Daniel and his friends. Daniel 2 shows us that all of Babylon's so-called wise men were unable to give the anxious king an answer with regards to his concerns. Daniel, however, trusted in the Lord and asked the king for a little more time to prepare, then asked his three friends to pray to God, seeking for the answer. God gave them the answer to the king's concerns.
2) Listen well
The Bible tells us that we should be "swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath" (see James 1:19). We should resist the urge to speak before we hear and understand the whole story. And if ever, we should even more resist the urge to be incited to anger.
We can never give good, Godly and timely counsel if we don't hear the person's story and sentiments. If we don't listen well, we will surely miss out on crucial details needed for us to think. Also, if we don't listen, we will communicate to the person that we aren't really interested in their healing or restoration.
3) Search the Scriptures
Lastly, don't ever give counsel from any source other than the Bible. The word of God has instructions for every single thing under the sun. Best of all, it comes from the very mouth and heart of God – the all-knowing God who loves us all and knows and wants what is best for all of us.
Read the word of God on a daily basis so you can arm yourself with His knowledge. Read before you counsel the person who comes to you for advice or guidance. Let the word of God come of your mouth naturally. Hebrews 4:12-13 tells us,
"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from [God's] sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."