Counseling the Fool (Part 3)

From the series:

by Tim Sullivan


Six principles should be implemented in order to help the fool become wise and lead them to biblical change.[1]

First, it is essential to show the fool from God’s Word that there is hope (Prov. 13:12; Rom. 15:1-6). Some fools will come asking for help because their world has fallen apart; others will come because they are forced. Either way, the fool needs assurance from God’s Word that God is working in his life.

Second, fools need wise counselors in their lives (Prov. 13:20; 17:27). This will require us to get involved in his or her life. The fool needs wisdom, and one of the ways they will receive wisdom is by walking with the wise. “Walking with the wise,” suggests a type of community where two people are spending time together and doing life with each other.

Third, it is important for us, as counselors, to listen. We can build involvement and give hope by opening our ears and closing our mouths (Prov. 18:13,17). Listening is the best way to get to know the fool. We must spend time gathering information so that we can give wise and godly counsel. Asking good, open-ended questions, the right questions, and then carefully listening to understand what is happening in the fool’s life is the best way to gather data. It would be best to ask questions that begin with: what, how, why, how often, where, and when. Ask a progressive line of questions, in which each question is based on information uncovered in the previous questions so that you will be able to draw out the purposes of their heart (Prov. 20:5).

Fourth, we must assess the problem biblically (Prov. 20:5). A man of understanding can draw out the things of the heart by listening. Every fool is likely both a sufferer and a sinner, and sorting those out will be a critical part of the evaluation. The discipler needs to take his or her time as they assess the issues at hand (Prov.21:5). Moreover, there needs to be an evaluation and organization of the data into biblical categories.

Fifth, the fool needs to be pointed to the Word of God (Prov.12:15; 30:5). We must give biblical instruction, showing them that God’s Word has everything we need for life and godliness. Help the fool see that the Scriptures speak to their situation. Open up God’s Word every single time you meet with the fool and continue to use the Scriptures in ongoing homework assignments.

Lastly, we need to help the fool apply God’s Word to their lives (Prov. 22:17-19; 23:12). Giving specific homework assignments can help them be concise in the application of God’s Word to their lives. We need to help them be doers of the Word and not merely hearers of the Word (Jas.1:22). Giving homework will be the most beneficial. Homework should always be clear, specific, and concrete.

Read more in Part 4

       [1] These six principles were adapted from “Key Elements.” Track One Lecture, Faith Biblical Counseling Conference, Faith Church, Lafayette, Indiana, February 2013.