What Do You Do When You Don’t Know What to Do?

The couple walked in, closed the door, and burst into tears. She’d just found evidence he was having an affair. He didn’t deny it. They talked. I listened.

They came back the next day. We talked more. I told them, “I’m a pretty good country doctor. But you need a cardiologist. I’m not a cardiologist. I have an appointment with Phil Pistole, a Christian counselor, this afternoon at 2:00. I recommend you take my appointment and begin to work with him. I’ve known him and talked with him for years. He’s been helpful to me, my family, and many others I’ve referred to him.”

I reflected on the parable I used. It came from my father having bypass surgery in 1981. Dr. Thomas Frist, Jr. did Daddy’s operation. I noticed Dr. Morse Kochtitzky came by to see him several times. Dr. Kochtitzky wasn’t a cardiac surgeon, but he was Daddy’s family doctor. He was concerned about his health.

As I reflected on that, I’ve often felt I abandoned people when I referred them to someone else who could help them more than I could at the time. When this couple quickly agreed to go see a counselor, I asked if we could continue to talk to see how they were doing.

For several months, I visited with them to check their progress. Each month, we’d make an appointment to talk the next month. They agreed for Phil and me to exchange information of our conversations with them if we thought it’d be helpful.

To Make Good Referrals

  1. Be comfortable with not knowing everything. Because of a title or position (elder, preacher, parent, friend), I don’t have to have answers to every problem people bring to me.
  2. Have a good list of helpers. Older women, older men, Christians the person respects, Christian counselors, alcoholics who are now sober and helpful, people whose children have died, couples who’ve survived infidelity and are willing to talk about their journey to reconciliation, people whose children have broken their hearts and have survived, and others who have experience and can minister in ways I can’t.
  3. Stay connected and concerned. Let them know that even though someone else can help in ways you can’t, you’re interested and will be staying connected with them and praying for them.
  4. Don’t second guess or criticize the counselor. The family physician doesn’t reopen the wound and see if they need another bypass or two. He or she isn’t the specialist. He might talk to the surgeon if he had a concern.

It’s good to understand that some plant, some water, but God gives the increase. I don’t have to do it all.

What have you found helpful when you didn’t know what to do?

(Visited 447 times, 6 visits today)
Jerrie Barber
Servant of Jesus, husband to Gail, father to Jerrie Wayne Barber, II and Christi Parsons, grandfather, great-grandfather, Interim Preacher, Shepherd coach, Ventriloquist, barefoot runner, ride a cruiser bicycle

2 Responses to “What Do You Do When You Don’t Know What to Do?

  • I appreciate this article, and have personally benefited from the author doing the things recommended therein. The first group listed in #2 above (older women) reminds me of Titus 2:3,4. Keep up the good work, Jerrie!

    • Jerrie W. Barber
      3 years ago


      Paul had some good ideas with the help of the Holy Spirit.

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