I probably spend 15-20 hours a week preparing messages. And 8-10 in pastoral counseling and visitation.
Sometimes I wish I could counsel less so I could prepare more; other times I wish I could prepare less so I could visit more.
But as I have thought about that dynamic in recent weeks, I have come to realize that the two activities are in fact inseparable. Pastoral counseling shows me the kinds of issues with which people in the church and community struggle. That in turn shapes the content and direction of my preaching.
And Sunday sermons often stir up issues in people’s hearts and lives that move them to make an appointment with me or other Good Shepherd staffers for . . . you guessed it, pastoral counseling. So preaching and counseling, far from being competitors for my time, are instead two sides of the same ministry coin.
Because in the biggest picture, preaching is counseling — offering a word of hope in the middle of life’s chaos.
And counseling is preaching — shining the light of truth into the dark places of the soul.