Q & A with Jennifer Lee, MABC Student

In this entry, we have the privilege of hearing from Jennifer Lee about the Masters of Arts in Biblical Counseling (MABC) program offered at the Master’s College.  Jennifer is one of three IBC members currently pursuing the degree.  She recently took some time out to answer a couple of questions to help us get a better sense of what the program is like.  
What made you decide to do the MABC program?  What is your goal? 
“During my interactions with many Christians in different life stages and of different doctrinal backgrounds, I learned how my knowledge of the Bible was not translating into addressing their problems and concerns effectively. Prior to entering the program, I encountered several family issues, which I did not know how to respond to.  I attended the Women Disciplining Women conference where they encouraged the MABC program. I had just finished my teaching credential program and had some time to devote to the program. The Lord provided the resources to pay for the tuition.  My hope and my desire is that I would be better equipped to minister to the church, with not only a better knowledge of the Scriptures, but also a life that has been shaped and formed by God’s word.”
What are the professors like?  Who is your favorite and why?  What is your favorite class?

“The main professors, who teach the majority of courses, are Dr. Robert Somerville, Dr. Ernie Baker, and Dr. John Street. I have taken multiple courses with each of them. They have very different personalities. 
Dr. Street, as some of you may know, is very personable. If we celebrated Christmas with a Santa Claus, Dr. Street would be the first candidate I would pick to adorn a red suit and kids in his lap. He welcomes his students with a genuine exuberance and shows his concern and care for each of us. Even in the midst of his crazy busy schedule, he demonstrates ease in conversation with us, pausing to check in for a few minutes to see how we are doing.  
Dr. Baker is the complete opposite, personality wise. He is very quiet and stoic and you can almost see the cogs in his mind click as he analyzes your questions and responses. He seems to be the Thinker of the trio. It’s sometimes hard to follow him so deeply in thought, and once when I expressed frustration by saying, “Sometimes I just can’t think as deep as you! What else is there to think about?” he chuckled and responded, “Imagine what it’s like for my poor wife.” He is, however, very compassionate and passionate about ministering to people. 
Dr. Somerville’s strength is in his shepherding. Even his lectures seem like a gentle shepherding of our souls to become more like Christ. He is very honest about his struggles and demonstrates for us how to practically implement God’s word in daily living. He also is quick to show concern for us, taking opportunities to ask how we are doing, what courses we are taking, and how we are growing in them. At first, he seems very serious and somber, but he is quick with jokes and personal jabs with students who are comfortable with that kind of humor. Sometimes I hear him whistle as he walks through campus.
The most impressionable course was Introduction to Biblical Counseling. Dr. Baker teaches that, and it really opened up my eyes to how extensive Scripture is in giving us an anatomy of the human soul. Biblical Counselors are like doctors who need to assess, diagnose, and give treatments to their patients. Without the framework of how the body works, doctors would not be able to accurately assess what is going on. The course goes through the biblical framework of the inner man and it helped my understanding of how all the pieces of biblical knowledge I had fit together.”
What’s your typical school week like?  How much time do you spend on schoolwork for the program?

“All of the classes are in the evening. The earliest class begins at 5:30 pm. The number of units a class represents is determined by how long it is. A two unit class is 1 hr 45 minutes long, and a three unit class runs for 2 hrs and 30 minutes. Each class only meets once a week, and most of the courses meet on Monday or Tuesday. 
Dr. Baker told us that the classes are designed so that students spend three hours per unit outside of class for assignments. I guess it depends on how fast you read (I am mastering the art of speed reading). In addition to projects and additional papers, I would say I average around 6-10 hours per week for my current two unit classes.”
What’s unique about the program?

“Biblical counseling from Scripture alone is very rare in the evangelical church today. Most Christian counseling programs emphasize the use of secular psychology, integrating it with the premises of Christian faith. The Biblical Counseling Program at The Master’s College stands apart in its emphasis of Scripture, not nominally, but rather digging into the Scriptures to discover what it has to say about all different areas of life’s struggles, and to examine its central purposes for the growth and equipping of the man or woman of God.

I entered the MABC program about a year after I finished a teaching credential program at Cal State University, Northridge.   My experience in the teaching credential program was a great struggle. The foundation upon which best practice theories of education is based on are 1) research and 2) psychological premises.  Since the Lord does communicate truth through natural revelation, there was some truth embedded in all of the philosophies of life that the professors were teaching us. However, because of sin-affected observation, those good truths were wrapped in a pagan context. It seems like education was their religion. It was the savior to the problems of injustice in society, and I was being commissioned to a revolutionizing work. I appreciated some of what was being taught, but because of the prevailing foundation of human ability and ignorance of the Sovereign One, my eyes were clouded with worldly philosophies and my heart became confused as I struggled to isolate truth from the subtle deception that prevailed.”

What is one important thing you learned in the program?

“Christian counseling is not only the teaching of truth, correcting error in thinking and behavior but embodies the person of Christ in counseling. We must be grounded in love, patience, gentleness, and kindness. 
‘The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him, to do His will.’ (2 Timothy 2:24-26)
The Christian counselor must die to himself and dress himself with the compassion of God. He must be ready to bear with difficult counselees, even those in opposition, even those who wrong him. The counselee is not his enemy, but someone who is hurting. God is the one who changes and grows the counselee, so the Christian counselor must trust in God and depend on Him. Not on his ability to convince the counselee of anything, or on the counselee’s ability to make strides and changes of his own will.”
How has your view of the bible changed, if at all?  I.e. in its use to help others.

“My view of the bible isn’t different from what I believed before the program, but it is deeper. Scripture isn’t a bag of marbles filled with isolated truths to address isolated problems, but rather eyeglasses that provides a worldview by which to interpret everything. The program helped tune my understanding of Scripture’s evaluation of sin and sanctification so that I can evaluate others and myself from a clear scriptural perspective.”

How have you changed during the program, if at all?

“One practical way I’ve changed through the lesson learned mentioned above, is in the way I listen to people. I didn’t realize how much I used to make assumptions about people based on what they shared with me. The professors emphasize asking open-ended and clarifying questions because only when we really understand what counselees believe/desire, can we correct properly. The assessment needs to be accurate in order for correction to be effective. As I practiced asking these kinds of questions I have been surprised to learn things about people that I had not known previously and I would not have known otherwise. It really exposed my presumptuousness, and continues to expose it as I am still growing in this area.”

Are there any books you would recommend to anyone interested in biblical counseling?

“An introductory textbook that will guide you through all the different aspects of biblical counseling is How to Counsel Biblically. The chapters are written by a collaboration of different authors: John MacArthur, John Street, Wayne Mack, Doug Bookman, and others. It is packed with practical aspects of biblical counseling.
A book that goes into the biblical anatomy of the inner man and what it means to counsel from that perspective is How People Change by Timothy Lane and Paul David Tripp. This book will help you understand how to get to the root of a person’s problems rather than just addressing the surface behaviors. 
One book that brings both of these aspects together is Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp. This book also addresses, in depth, the role of the counselor and his/her necessary character.”

Would you recommend the program and why?  Who would you recommend it to?

“I would recommend the program to any Christian. The principles that we learn are applicable to any Christian. If you have the time and money to invest in the program, do it!  If you don’t want to go through the whole program, you can audit a class either throughout the regular semesters or one week in the summer. If you have any questions about it, you can ask me, or you can contact Chris Kropf, ckropf@masters.edu at The Master’s College.”