Review of David Powlison, The Pastor as Counselor (Crossway, 2021)

The Pastor as Counselor (Paperback) - David Powlison ...

As professional counsellors and psychotherapists become a normal part of society, it can be easy for pastors to think themselves unqualified to counsel. Experts line up with degrees upon degrees to tell us that they know how to fix broken lives, and pastors may begin to doubt that they can help.

In The Pastor as Counselor, the late biblical counsellor David Powlison presents a high view of the pastor’s calling when it comes to pastoral counselling. “Sigmund Freud rightly defined therapists as ‘secular pastoral workers’” (19) and so Powlison wants pastors to place counselling back in its correct position – inside the church.

Powlison can’t help but be practical and that tendency overflows into this short book, but the content is mainly about the reasons why counselling does belong as a part of the pastor’s role. He argues that pastors are uniquely placed in terms of their access to people, their relationships to people, and the methods and message of their counselling.

As one would expect in a book written late in life by a man well experienced in the art of soul care, there is many a golden nugget of wisdom or encouragement in this book. But if you come away with a new or a renewed view of the glory and importance of personal pastoral counselling I think Powlison would think he has done his job.

– Tom Eglinton