Last month, more than thirty counselors from the Fieldstone team gathered at our home office in northeast Ohio for a two-day team retreat. It provided many opportunities for rich and meaningful discussion, as well as a space for care and rest. The retreat was, for several of our team members, the first time to meet in person rather than over Zoom or some other online format. We asked some of our counselors to share what was most memorable about their time at the retreat.
Brenda Harstine | Green, Ohio & Remote Counselor
One of Fieldstone’s 10 Commitments states, “We are committed to continued learning and refining of our counseling theology and methodology because we know that we are imperfect.” I experienced the team retreat as one way this commitment is carried out. Meeting together as a team was a great encouragement to me as it provided an opportunity to learn from like-minded counselors. Taking a step back, “retreating,” gave us a chance to gain the perspective needed to continue engaging effectively and biblically with the counselees who turn to us for help.
I especially value the last part of the statement, “because we know that we are imperfect.” Having this attitude, as part of the Fieldstone culture, enables us to humbly admit our need for help, promotes the freedom to ask questions, contributes to a commitment to growth, and facilitates opportunities to learn from each other. The retreat provided the opportunity to do that as various counselors shared about counseling issues of interest to them. I also appreciated hearing from a panel of those who were part of the development of Fieldstone from its inception. As they shared, it was evident that dependence on Christ was crucial from the beginning and that it is only through him that Fieldstone continues to thrive. I’m grateful to serve with a team that acknowledges imperfection so that dependence on Christ remains central.
Jason Engler | Remote Counselor
It was encouraging to be at the team retreat and see a group of people from all across the nation committed to learning and growing as biblical counselors. Everywhere you looked there were people passionate about seeing the personal ministry of God’s Word spread in their local context. Pastors, counselors, and church staff came together to learn from each other, to grow in relationship with one another, and ultimately to seek to understand God and his Word and how it can be applied to our hearts and souls to see people grow. As I was engaging with so many people who have a genuine care for each other and their counselees, it solidified the belief I’ve had for a long time — that genuine, humble biblical counselors are a precious group of people to know and grow alongside.
Hearing from different counselors sharing their expertise was humbling and encouraging. Jonathan Holmes, our Executive Director, spoke about the necessity of keeping in step with the Spirit as we are counseling and he clearly models that heart as you watch him lead. Leadership in our culture often has a particular image of “greatness” as someone who is powerful, unquestionable, with a “my way or the highway” type of attitude. Jonathan expressed and modeled the importance of humility and our shared dependence upon the Spirit for the work of heart change. Additionally, Joseph Hussung’s teaching on hoarding was very insightful. He talked about the reality of the relationship of the hoarder with the hoard, and how the hoard becomes like a living being to the person who gathers it. It was interesting to see the reality of one’s earthly treasures growing to a point where they become ultimate, to the detriment of their owner. It was a potent example of Jesus's teaching in Matthew 6:19-21.
Rachel Dunn | Remote Counselor
Before I ever set foot in Ohio, the preparations made for the remote counselors touched my heart in a special way. My transportation, housing, and meals were arranged for me so that all I had to do was pack my bag, jump onboard a flight to Cleveland, and enjoy the time with my colleagues and friends. Each act of care communicated to me that I was worth going out of the way for and that my physical presence for just two days was highly valuable to the team. This concept of “going out of your way” for a person you only know through a camera lens reminds me of how Christ goes out of his way for each of us.
The first thing I noticed at the Fieldstone Green office was the camaraderie and closeness among team members. I received genuine warmth from every person I met as they asked me where I was from and communicated how happy they were to meet me in person. Those entryway conversations led to deeper friendships over the next two days. I could easily see how God was using each counselor I met for his glory and for good in the lives of hurting individuals.
It was also clear to me upon first glance at our itinerary that this was not only a time of education and betterment but of personal reflection, self-care, burnout prevention, and team bonding. Every session delivered on that commitment and was centered on how we can depend on Jesus to help us in the counseling room. We can all agree that he is the Wonderful Counselor who paves the way for us as we seek to offer lasting hope to our communities.
We continue to look back on the retreat with gratitude for the outlets we had to grow as counselors together and for the chance to be refreshed in a special way. Gatherings like this would not be possible without the particular intentions of our governing board and management staff to care for our team. The care we extend to our counselees and partnering churches is dependent upon several things — the trust of those we counsel, the commitment of our counselors to pursue forms of both continuing education and self-care, and the kind generosity of our donors. We rejoice at how the Lord has blessed us with these provisions and that we get to participate in the ministry of Fieldstone Counseling.