A primer on becoming self-absorbed

In an email to me from a friend/co-worker from the past, the following was tucked into a concluding paragraph…

“Not sure how to say this tactfully, but when you were on staff here, I saw a lot of “Carl”…”.

My character, more specifically a character deficiency called pride, was exposed. Yikes. Ouch. Yep.

That was a hard assessment to read, but no offense was taken because she was absolutely correct. Any pain brought on by that statement is my own creation, by my own behavior and words and attitude. She was not being accusatory, just reporting the facts. And the fact is, when I consider the time we worked together, I was a fairly self absorbed, self promoting, jerk. She is far too kind (or restrained) to have said exactly that, but I would not fault her for having thought it. Truthfully, there is no “tactful” way for saying that because people like me who wrestle with pride are skilled in dismissing tactful warnings. Following the ellipsis I included in the quote above, she was very complimentary to God’s work in my life she sees today. For that I am grateful for God’s grace. But it did cause me to reflect on what I did/said/thought that would lead her to make that statement. Unfortunately, a lot came to mind, and regrettably, with many people other than her. Too many instances to list, so I categorized them, and thus present to you my checklist for how to become known as self absorbed:

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Resources for biblical counseling

This past Saturday, I was afforded the great privilege of sharing at Lake City Community Church’s Family Summit. The Family Summit is a one-day event the church hosts to support, encourage, and equip their church family to be empowered, devoted followers and proclaimers of Christ. After an opening, general session, attenders could select from workshops like Leading a Child to Christ, Parenting Adult Children, Spiritual Formation, and more. I taught two sessions on biblical counseling – one was focused on defining what biblical counseling is, the other focused on what it looks like, with an attempt to undo some of the “professional” mystery.

As a part of those two sessions, I included some suggestions for other resources to get further informed and equipped. In an effort to serve you who were not there, or those of you who were at the Family Summit but were drawn away by the allure of other workshops (perfectly understandable), or for those of you who were there and either did not take notes and/or threw away your handouts, what follows is a list of those resources….

For further reading: 

“Competent to Counsel: Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling” by Jay E. Adams

“Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change” by Paul David Tripp

Journal of Biblical Counseling – a CCEF publication

“How People Change” by Timothy Lane and Paul David Tripp

For further training: 

Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) Counseling and Discipleship Training

CCEF School of Biblical Counseling (online)

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (graduate studies, some classes available online)

Western Reformed Seminary (Tacoma – graduate studies)

Biblical Counseling Organizations:

Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (formerly NANC)

Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF)

Biblical Counseling Coalition




Noble plans in the mist

I’m likely not breaking any new creative ground with this post today. I can only presume that across the blogosphere, many are projecting into the new year with plans, goals, ideas, etc. For the record, this is not a “resolutions” post, for two reasons. The first is that I began to write a resolutions post, with the intent of providing perhaps a different look at what that means, when it struck me that what I was typing sounded similar to something I had written before. A quick check confirmed that indeed, I did write it before on an old blog, then reposted it to this blog the following year. So, I’ll skip re-writing it, and link to my post “Resolved” instead.

The second reason is because there exists (at least in my mind) a tension. Projecting into the future brings to mind two different verses:

 But he who is noble plans noble things, and on noble things he stands. – Isaiah 32:8 (ESV)


Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. – James 4:13-14 (ESV)

So, there is wisdom in making plans, and it would appear there is also wisdom in not holding too tenaciously to those plans. Fortunately, James helps me out, and reminds me that there is a resolution (ha, I’m punny) to the tension when he follows up with verse 15 – “Instead, you ought to say, if the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” I have to be reminded of this every year – the actual tension is not between the verses, it is between my will and God’s, and since God says “I will accomplish all my purpose” (Isaiah 46:10, ESV) it would serve me well to joyfully submit to and accept His will.

The self directed counseling session has now ended.

All of this leads up to, what, if the Lord wills, I would like to do in the coming year. In the past, borrowing a page from another pastor, I have come up with goals for myself for the year, one goal for the number of years I have been alive. The pastor I learned this from has incredible self-discipline. He would say that writing out his goals is what makes him disciplined – my humble opinion is that it is 6 of one, half a dozen of the other. I’m debating whether to take that approach to goal writing again this year. My success rate with that strategy is not very high, which tempers my enthusiasm a bit. For now, I’m putting forward (and public) just a few. Continue reading