About the book
Who will benefit from this book? Anyone involved in counseling troubled people; anyone who strives to disciple others for Christ; all parents who want to promote effective communication and faith-building conversations with their children; any Christian committed to serving others through the Word of God; anyone who wants to live a life pleasing to the Lord, utilizing the principles set forth in Scripture. If you fall into any of these categories, you will benefit from this book.
This is a guide for biblical counselors on how to effectively help counselees overcome their struggles, practical and spiritual, and become true, faithful disciples of Jesus. This approach to biblical counseling can be broken down into eight essential steps, each rooted in biblical disciple-making principles. This guide clearly describes each step, how and where it is taught in Scripture, and why it is vital to strengthening discipleship.
From the Foreword by Dr. Jim Newheiser:
This is an important book by an important man. Dr. Wayne Mack is a patriarch in the biblical counseling movement. For fifty years, he has been training biblical counselors. God has used him to help establish ongoing counseling and equipping ministries in Pennsylvania, California, and South Africa. His books are benefitting Christians around the world. Even though he has been busy teaching and writing, he always finds time to practice biblical counseling. This wasn’t merely to keep himself sharp. It is because he and his dear wife, Carol, love people and faithfully care for them— especially in the context of their local church. Wayne’s counseling experience informs and enriches every page he writes.
I was first exposed to Dr. Mack’s work in the early 1980s, a time when all of the books published by the resurgent biblical counseling movement could fit on one (short) shelf. As a very young pastor serving a diverse congregation in the Middle East, I had full confidence in God’s Word to transform lives, but very little practical wisdom or experience. I was so grateful to God for the practical help Wayne’s Homework Manuals and his book, Strengthening Your Marriage, provided for me and my counselees in those early days of ministry.
After we were forced to leave the Middle East in 1987, I took my first formal counseling course at Westminster Seminary in California under George Scipione where I was taught Wayne’s Seven “I” s (before the eighth “I” was added). In the early 1990s, my wife, Caroline, and I had the joy and privilege of getting to know Wayne and Carol who remained heroes to us while also becoming dear friends.
Since then, I have had the blessing of building upon the foundation they laid. For several years, I was an adjunct professor at the flourishing biblical counseling program which he established at the The Master’s University. Two summers ago, we enjoyed the immense blessing of serving alongside them in South Africa where God has helped them to remain fruitful unto old age (Ps. 92:14).
I was amazed to see the passion, sharpness of mind, and energy of Dr. Mack at an age by which most men would have been retired for twenty years. As we taught together, I was exhausted while Wayne seemed to be just warming up. Like Jesus, Wayne’s food is doing the will of the Father (John 4:34). Five years ago, I was inspired by the Macks’ example of twice answering the call to leave a comfortable and secure place to serve in a location which offers the greatest opportunity for usefulness in ministry (Ps. 90: 12, 17) when we moved to Charlotte to build a biblical counseling program at Reformed Theological Seminary.
I believe this is one of the most important books Wayne Mack has written. One of the greatest challenges I face as a professor of biblical counseling is teaching people how to counsel using God’s Word. The eight “I”s are Dr. Mack’s important contribution which answers the how to do it question with a scripturally based methodology for biblical counseling. Just as what the Bible teaches about various aspects of doctrine is logically arranged in books of Systematic Theology, Dr. Mack has arranged the various key elements of biblical counseling in a logical and orderly fashion. The eight “I” s are in a sense the crown jewels of Wayne’s ministry, polished through more than fifty years of teaching and counseling experience.
While Dr. Mack has written about the eight “I” s in other places, this is his most comprehensive and refined expression of the core of his teaching. He offers useful case studies. He also gives specific warnings about how people who claim to practice biblical counseling can be guilty of carelessness by failing to gain a personal connection, listen well, and interpret life situations biblically. When Wayne asked me to write this foreword, he revealed that I was not his first choice. Jay Adams was preferred, but he has recently gone to be with the Lord. Many of the other dear patriarchs of our movement have also left us recently. I am thankful that Dr. Mack remains. The Lord has kept him beyond fourscore years (Ps. 90: 10). One reason, in addition to his ongoing work in South Africa, may have been so that he could write this book for all of us. I urge you to take advantage of the privilege of sitting under a Master Teacher and Counselor by carefully reading this volume. It is saturated with scriptural wisdom. You will find yourself referring back to it for years to come.
—Dr. Jim Newheiser, Director of the Christian Counseling Program; Associate Professor of Counseling and Pastoral Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, North Carolina; Executive Director, IBCD (The Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship)