Christian counselor reflects on helping people in uncertain times


By Dr. Robert McQuillan —

Robert McQuillan

It seems that newscasts share more bad news daily about the worldwide pandemic, increasing crime, rebellion against authorities, and government over-reach. It’s rare to hear news that makes you laugh, even smile.

So here’s a simple, good-news story…

Evidently a 93-year-old Italian wept when told his hospital ventilator one-day usage bill was 5,000 Euro (approx. $6075).

A doctor kindly advised him, “Don’t cry over it.”

To his surprise the old man responded, “I’m not crying because I have to pay. I cry because I’ve been breathing God’s air every day for 93 years and never had to pay anything. But for one day’s use of your ventilator, I must pay EU 5000! I realize now how much I owe God… I’ve never courteously thanked him before for his free air!’

It’s expected that believers thank God for his kindnesses. But what about the old-fashioned courtesy of individuals thanking people for services or kindnesses rendered?

So often in conversing with people (non-churchgoing and churchgoing), including leaders from various backgrounds and industries – I repeatedly observe individuals hungrily looking for a genuine ‘thank you’ — and some meaningful encouragement.

‘Encourage’… comes from the French word encoragier meaning ‘make strong, hearten; inspiring with spirit or hope.’ In my profession as a counselor, this is what I attempt to do.

Again and again I encounter people needing to hear good news and an encouraging word. And, I have to say, even in my writing, counseling, mentoring, and encouraging, I find great personal enjoyment and satisfaction in inspiring people to move ahead.

As a believer, my kick-start morning prayer includes two desires… ‘Lead me to contact a needy someone whom I haven’t contacted lately so I may share encouragement’ and ‘Grant that a needy someone who hasn’t contacted me for a while does so.’

This isn’t some grandiose client-seeking ploy for personal gain – I don’t charge fees – I seek only to inspire and support those in need. And, when such contacts periodically happen, it’s interesting who I end up heartening — even some ‘blast from the past’ individuals.


Covid-19 pandemic has caused deaths, employment/income loss, physical/mental problems, loneliness, suicides, depressive negativity, and confused people with a sense of uncertainty regarding the future.

Sadly, many are just ‘hanging around’ aimlessly, some crippled by thoughts of ‘What’s the use? What future do I have?’… an inability to move ahead.

I’ve found three major hindrances to individuals advancing forward:

  • Lack of encouragement
  • Unawareness that someone cares
  • Missing sense of purpose.

1)  Encouraging: We all need encouragement! Whether someone contacts us because of our profession, or we contact them, it’s imperative that we treat them thoughtfully, listen carefully and take the window of opportunity to speak inspiringly and meaningfully into their life.

2)  Caring: Some people haven’t had a call from anyone for ages (friend, family member nor minister)! They’re feeling very lonely, isolated, cut off, depressed. Sadly, they’re thinking that no one is interested, no one cares, and life isn’t worth living.  We can give them some ‘meaningful kick-start’ that assures them we care!

3)  Purpose: Everyone needs a purpose in life. Sadly, some individuals are considering ‘giving it all away’ having lost their life-dream. When we connect with clients, we have a window to enthuse and inspire such depressed, negative (even suicidal) thinking individuals to fast-track forward, get it together again to seek achievement of something in their life… even in lockdown!

As a counselor, don’t allow anyone to offload heavy burdens on you – otherwise you too might come depressed! (Yes, transference can happen/has happened!)

In this time of confusion and uncertainty, I encourage counselors to use their skills and experiences to inspire troubled people to regain lost enthusiasm and goals.

“Aspire to inspire before we expire.”  (Author unknown)


Dr Robert McQuillan, PhD, MA (Coun), DLitt, LHD, DD, MarquisWho’s Who in the World 30-year Listee, is director of Life Focus © Dr Robert McQuillan 2020.                                Link: