Quotes on Counsel

From the prophet Joseph Smith:  “There are those who profess to be Saints who are too apt to murmur, and find fault, when any advice is given, which comes in opposition to their feelings, even when they, themselves, ask for counsel; much more so when counsel is given unasked for, which does not agree with their notion of things; but brethren, we hope for better things from the most of you; we trust that you desire counsel, from time to time, and that you will cheerfully conform to it, whenever you receive it from a proper source.”  (History of the Church, 4:45.) –– Elder M. Russell Ballard, Ensign, November 1991, p. 7

Now for persons to do things merely because they are advised to do them, and yet murmur all the time they are doing them, is of no use at all; they might as well not do them.  There are those who profess to be Saints who are too apt to murmur, and find fault, when any advice is given, which comes in opposition to their feelings, even when they, themselves, ask for counsel; much more so when counsel is given unasked for, which does not agree with their notion of things; but brethren, we hope for better things from the most of you; we trust that you desire counsel, from time to time, and that you will cheerfully conform to it, whenever you receive it from a proper source. — Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 4:45

We seem to be developing an epidemic of “counselitis” which drains spiritual strength from the Church, much like the common cold drains more strength out of humanity than any other disease.  That, some may assume, is not serious.  It is very serious!

On one hand, we counsel bishops to avoid abuses in welfare help.  On the other hand, some bishops dole out counsel and advice without considering that the member should solve the problem himself.

There are many chronic cases – individuals who endlessly seek counsel but do not follow the counsel that is given.  I have, on occasions, included in an interview this question: “You have come to me for advice.  After we have carefully considered your problem, is it your intention to follow the counsel that I will give you?”

This comes as a considerable surprise to them.  They had never thought of that.  Usually they then commit themselves to follow counsel.  It is easier then to show them how to help themselves, and more than that, how to help others.  That is the greatest therapy.

We have become very anxious over the amount of counseling that we seem to need in the church.  Our members are becoming dependent.

We must not set up a network of counseling services without at the same time emphasizing the principle of emotional self-reliance and individual independence. — President Boyd K. Packer, “Develop spiritual, temporal self-reliance,” Church News, September 22, 2001, p. 15