The difference between counselling and pastoring is charging.
A good counsellor will only ever help people to identify and make up their own mind about morality. They might try and influence it, but they will never ever impose their own beliefs on their clients. (Ok, they “should” never do that… I have heard of many bad counsellors that do).
But although Pastoring includes helping people work though their issues, it is not limited to that. Pastoring includes telling people right from wrong, calling people to repent from things they don’t actually think are wrong… all done prayerfully and from the pages of the bible. Pastoring includes charging people with their responsibilities before God.
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
As pastors, we have (I hope) a natural bent towards helping people. When people come with issues in their Christian life (sin, spiritual questions, etc) we want to help them through it. But that’s the key… through it, as in out of it, or dealing with it.
There will be some people who don’t want to be pastored through it. They want want to go over the same things over and over again. You have the same conversation, with little variance. They come with a “new” issue, but it’s really just the same issue in different words. Beware. What starts so innocently, can become a big issue. See 2Timothy 2:14-17…
Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarrelling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene.
So, some helpful questions…
- Who else have you chatted through this issue with?
- How many times have you and I had this conversation?
- What did I tell you last time?
- Why haven’t you taken my/other people’s advice?
- I think we’ve reached the point where talking about this issue any more is of no value.
- I’m concerned you’re more interested in talking than changing. That’s ungodly. Stop it and drop it.
There’s always going to be some people in your church who will never really see you as their leader/elder/pastor. They’ll come along, they’ll attend, they’ll agree with this and disagree with that. They might find you arrogant (ironic!), they might think you’re too young (again, read 1Tim 4:12), they might have some theological idea about how church leaders shouldn’t have authority (???). But in the end, in their eyes, your not their pastor.
The only thing you can do, as Scripture says, is set “an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity”. Only by God’s grace can you become someone’s pastor, as you continue to wash them with the word of the gospel.
Don’t bother trying anything else. And… don’t bother caring much about it either. There’s nothing you can do.