Counseling Process

Stop Saying, "I Know"

April 9, 2024
5 minute read
Stop Saying, "I Know"

If you’ve been counseling others for a long time, then certainly you’ve experienced this at least once: after giving counselees counsel, advice, or pointing them to the truth of Scripture and how that should help them think, act, speak, and feel differently they say, “I know.”If you haven’t seen it in counseling, then certainly you’ve seen it if you’re a parent. It might be in reminding your child of where their shoes go for the 10,000th time or to put dirty laundry in the hamper or that they need to tuck their sheets in when they make their bed to which they say, “I know.” As a biblical counselor, it should be concerning to us how many people “KNOW” so much and yet they do not operate on what they “KNOW”. The title of the blog and also the quotation marks around KNOW are certainly tipping my hand. But think about one of the most important passages to the foundation of biblical counseling. It’s the passage that people reference all the time to say that Scripture is sufficient for all of life and godliness. It’s 2 Peter 1:3–43 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

Knowledge and knowing is crucial for life and godliness

The verse specifically says that Jesus’ power has given us everything that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him...that knowledge being the knowledge of Jesus Christ. And then v.4 makes the connection that by the knowledge (the antecedent for ‘which’ is ‘knowledge of him’) of Jesus he has granted to us his precious and very great promises. There is much more we could say about these verses, but the point is that KNOWLEDGE and KNOWING is crucial for life and godliness. Without knowledge we cannot have what we need for godliness. And the end of v.5 makes it clear that this KNOWLEDGE of Jesus is how we escape from the corruption that is in the world.If KNOWLEDGE of Jesus is so important for godliness and living differently, then it should be quite concerning that someone could “KNOW” and yet not seemingly have everything that pertains to life and godliness. What I am suggesting, and what I believe Scripture teaches, is that there is a “knowing” and a KNOWING. There is a deep KNOWING that is so ingrained in my heart that I operate on that truth. And then there is a “knowing” in the sense of I’ve heard that before and can give intellectual ascent to what you are saying.For example, recently I had the opportunity to hang outside lights up for a new building at our men’s residential addiction ministry (Restoration). A couple of the lights were very high up—25-35’ high. Much higher than a ladder was going to get me, so I borrowed a friend’s bucket truck. There is the “knowing” that the bucket truck can lift me and hold me and return to me to the ground safely. And then there is the KNOWING, that will actually lead me to get in the bucket and without fear do the job.Or another example from being on a scissor lift hanging lights inside the building. I had multiple people over the course of weeks on a scissor lift with me. And a handful of people were noticeably uncomfortable that high in the air and two separate people said, “I really don’t want tip over in this.” My comfortability on the scissor came for KNOWING that they can support the weight and that even though they wiggle and sway 19 foot up in the air, they are not going to tip. Their “knowing” led them to be quite uncomfortable.

We need to help our counselees KNOW the truth

Here's the point: As biblical counselors, we need to help our counselees KNOW the truth such that the godliness of 2 Peter 1:3 and the escaping corruption of v.4 are happening in their lives. In order to do this, we need to help our counselees discern the difference between what they “know” and what they KNOW.Years ago, a veteran counselor at our church in frustration told me, “I don’t ever want to counsel another pastor ever again.” And his reason for his frustration was because “they know everything.” Over the years a number of pastors had come to receive counseling—usually, because of some failure where their church had sent them to get counseling. Well, the counselor “couldn’t” teach them anything because, “they knew.” When I hear people telling me “I know” a lot in counseling the following verse from Proverbs comes to mind quickly.Proverbs 26:12 Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.Yikes...there isn’t much hope for a fool. So how much hope is there for the person that “knows?”

"To know and not to do is not to know"

About a year ago, a man shared with me a phrase that his dad told him growing up. And it’s a phrase that I use fairly frequently now. The phrase is, “To know and not to do is not to know.” You may need to read that phrase a few times. Chew on it. Make sure you understand what it says. It’s a simple but profound statement that if you really grasp that can really start to help you make significant changes in your life, and also in your counselee’s life.This applies to so many things but here’s just one example. A counselee struggling with anxiety, might retort to you pointing him to God’s sovereignty and him working everything together for your good (cf. Rom. 8:28-29) with an “I KNOW.” But if he truly KNEW that God was sovereign and good, then how could he worry? You need to help your counselee understand what he KNOWS—or perhaps better stated, what he thinks he knows—that is leading him to worry. At the functional level of his heart, it’s not God’s sovereignty and goodness that is driving his thinking, acting and feeling. Until he understands that, and gets to the bottom of that, he’ll live in the “I KNOW” world, which will leave him unchanged. He’ll be living in Proverbs 26:12.I hope that the truth of KNOWING helps you in real genuine repentance and change in your own life, and that it will overflow into you genuinely helping counselees make real changes in their life as well. All for his glory!Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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