SUMMARY: In this episode of the Life Tree Counseling podcast, Phillip Crum and Kathleen Mills talk to Mark Jones, who specializes in pastoral counseling and marriage counseling at Life Tree. They also discuss his background and his music.
Episode #9 | Life Tree Counselors Kathleen Mills and Mark Jones Discuss Pastoral Counseling
Kathleen Mills-Proprietor, Counselor at Life Tree Counseling
Phillip Crum-The Content Marketing Coach
Mark Jones-Pastoral and Marriage Counseling Specialist
PC: Well, we’re back.
KM: Hi, Phillip. How are you doing?
PC: I’m darn good. It’s way too early to be doing this, but it’s a lot of fun.
KM: Early? You’ve been up for three hours.
PC: Welcome everybody back to another edition of “It’s Just Coffee” with Kathleen Mills of Life Tree Counseling. How are you this morning, Kathleen?
KM: I’m good.
PC: Who is the hairy-legged one next to you this morning?
KM: He’s a dear colleague at Life Tree Counseling Center and he’s Mark Jones.
PC: Does he smile when he sleeping?
KM: I don’t know that part, but he smiles every time I’ve known him. You smile all the time, don’t you?
MJ: I have a lot to smile about, that’s why.
KM: I think that’s exciting, because we’re going to be talking about some of those today.
PC: Why don’t you tell us a little bit about Mark Jones?
MJ: Mark Jones. I am originally from New Jersey. I grew up in Marlton, New Jersey about 20 minutes right outside of New York City. I grew up there and graduated from high school there and left there and went to Tennessee to go to college. After college, I lived in Maine for a couple of years and then decided to further my education and ended up going to graduate school and ended up coming down to Dallas, Texas and one of the reasons I did that is because I wanted to be closer to my Cowboys and so I’m still a fan – don’t hate – so ended up in Texas in 1989 and I graduated from graduate school in 1992, got married in 1991 and I’ve been her ever since. I’ve been a pastor on staff at Trinity Bible Church; this is my 20th year on staff with them, and have been counseling, pastoral counseling, for most of that time as part of the church and just recently had the opportunity to come alongside Life Tree Counseling and be a part of their team, which I’m really excited about. I’m excited to see what doors God may open up, but also be able to expand my territory as far as helping and coming alongside individuals and couples in the area specifically of marriage and premarital counseling.
KM: Mark, tell me a little bit about what made you interested in doing this kind of pastoral counseling.
Tell me about that transition. You’re pastor at church. Walk everybody through how you got to the point of you want to do more of.
MJ: It was really interesting. My life has been watching God do some crazy things, pretty amazing things, and ever since I was a young kid in high school, I always wondered why I was the kid in the locker room, in the gym or the hallway that people would come by and say, “Hey” and just throw up all over me and open up their heart to me. And I love to listen, but I also love to help people, so it was a combined thing and for years, I would just see that everybody you pass has a story and everybody you pass, most of them have some type of hurt. God has walked me through some very difficult days and my story has a lot of pain in it. But my story also has a lot of healing in it and a lot of redemption in it and, as a result of that, I believe that God is able to do some miraculous things and so I want to be able to help others see that and help others get to the point where they believe that there’s nothing that they’re going through that God cannot walk them through or help heal them through that. I’ve given my life to pouring myself into individuals, put myself into couples, and specifically, the marriage area. I just have a real passion to see marriages heal because there are so many people that have existing relationships where, for one reason or another, they’re just walking through life, existing, getting divorced, or allowing the circumstances in their life to take over and I believe that God can turn anything around. I’ve seen Him do it. I think that’s one of the things, too. I’ve seen Him do the impossible. I’m excited about what He can do, I’m excited about sharing that with other people.
KM: You have a nice combination. You’ve lived through many things. You’ve processed many things. You’re an expert in being a clinician, and that combination is pretty powerful, wouldn’t you say?
MJ: I do. I think that one of the reasons the scriptures says that God comforts us so that we can then take that same comfort and comfort other people with how He’s comforted us, God has really done some great things in my life and in my marriage, and in my walk, and I want to be able to take the things He has shown me, both in experience but also in learning throughout our life and education, and help others to see the exact same thing. I want to give back because He’s been so good to me and someone has told me this, they say “Why do you smile all the time?” And I say, “I have a lot to smile about.” I
want to share with others because there’s a whole lot of people that are carrying a whole lot of hurt, and if I can walk this life beside people and help them not be happy all the time, but help them heal, and help them be restored, and help them live the life that God has designed for them, and marriage that God has designed for them, then my life will have been a success.
KM: I think you just answered the question, but you offer others hope and change, if you will, encouragement.
PC: I like your story about high school, and people approaching you. I’ve never heard anybody else that
expressed it like that, but you’re another guy that’s been blessed with the gift of bartending, which is that gift that just shines and says, “Yeah, come tell me all your problems and dump ‘em in my lap.” I’ve always felt like I’ve had a sign on my back that said “Bartender” because people just want to tell you all their problems and that can a burden unless you understand what it’s about, as you do.
MJ: Exactly. I think it’s not only a gift, but it’s also a huge responsibility.
PC: I just wish it came with a tip jar.
MJ: Yeah, many times, the renumeration only comes in seeing people heal. The real gift in that the real pay and that is to see people’s lives changed and I’ve been able to see that, and that’s been the most exciting thing for me to see somebody, to see an individual say, “All hope is gone,” and then see them be willing to do what it takes to walk a road and then see them totally transform. To see a couple walk into my office that says, “We have the divorce papers in hand and we’re done, but we’ll give this one
more shot.” And then to see a year later, them standing hand-in-hand, heart-in-heart, the knot with a better relationship, but with a totally transformed different relationship.
PC: To see the change that you’ve facilitated is really, really – it feels good. I remember the first time we met was way too early one morning for breakfast, and you’ve just got that gift and I remember after the hour that we spent together, Kathleen sent me a bill for the counseling there.
MJ: I didn’t know about that.
KM: I didn’t get paid, though. I sent the bill, right.
PC: You’re a musician, of sorts. Talk about that.
MJ: I am. I am a lover of music, and I’m a musician. I believe that God has given me a tool and music is my tool. My dad was a professional musician; he was an organist, he was a choir director. For years growing up, all over New Jersey, and I grew up in a musical household. When I was six years old, I started taking piano lessons and I learned very early, in junior high school, that if you were a football player and you sat down next to a piano, that was a real great way to meet young ladies. That was one of my motivations at first.
PC: You didn’t even have to play it.
MJ: You started singing Lionel Richie and all that kind of stuff, it was on. But then, too, one of the tools that, as I became a pastor, because I’m a pastor and God has given me a pastor’s heart, but the tool that He has given me to communicate His word, His truth, and that part of my life is through music. Music is a powerful tool. I learned very early that, by even watching other musicians – secular and Christian – that you have a powerful tool in your hand and you can use it in a good way, you can use it in a bad way,
you can use it to manipulate, you can use it to change. A good musician can make you cry, they can make you laugh, they can make you think, and that’s a huge responsibility. What I’ve done is I’ve chosen to use that tool to express, another way to express God’s truth and God’s word, but always to point to Him, not necessarily to talk about ourselves, but to show what He’s about and what He can do for us, and I use my main instrument is piano and voice, and I use that to lead.
PC: Do you do anything along the line? MJ: I post videos on YouTube but also every Sunday on Facebook, I put a worship song just to encourage people. Sometimes people can’t get to church, sometimes people don’t go to church at all. Some of my friends on Facebook never set foot in a church, but every Sunday, I just put a song up that just wants to encourage wherever you are to let you know that there’s somebody there to help you out.
PC: Tell me a cool story about some video online that has affected someone’s life.
MJ: The one I always go back to is one – I put up a song a year or so ago, and it was called “Speak to Me”, a song that truly ministered to me. It basically just says, “God, I’m empty, I’m hurting, I feel lonely, I feel like I have no hope. Just speak to me. Tell me something. I need to hear something now.” I put that up and it was really just putting out my heart’s cry of where I was, but I wanted to share it with others just in case they needed it, as well. A couple of days after I posted it, I get an e-mail from a young lady halfway around the world. She said that she wanted just to let me know that she woke up in the middle
of the night and she was about to do something that was going to change her life and the life of her child, basically saying she was going to take her life. She said that she just turned on the computer and just put in the words “speak to me” and the song that I sang came up. And she said, as a result of that, God spoke to her heart and changed her mind about what she was about to do. She just said, “Thank you. I don’t know why you put it up there, but it was for me.” Again, I realized that I don’t know her, but God knew her need and I felt very honored and blessed that God spoke to my heart to put it on and
then he spoke to her heart of where it was and he used the two of those to do His job. There have been other stories like that, as well, but it has been a great tool. And to think we live in a day and time where we can put something like that up and somebody can – my day is her night – she can wake up and watch something halfway across the world, to me, is a blessing to live in a day and a time where we can have that kind of powerful tool.
PC: Do you know how generic the term, was the name of the song?
MJ: “Speak to Me”
PC: That’s a fairly vanilla, generic term to do a search with and there’s jillions of things that would come up for that, and so the fact that your song, brand new on the Internet, came up halfway around the world from a different country, a result from a different country. The mathematical odds of that happening are not…
MJ: It’s a God thing.
KM: Just for me, personally, a couple of months ago, I can’t even remember the song, but I was at home, it was Sunday morning. I clicked on your post and I did it twice and I was singing the harmony the whole way through with you, and it was so encouraging. It just anchored me for where I was and what I needed to do and all that kind of stuff. Even here in Dallas, Texas, you have an impact of just. That’s exactly what I needed to hear and I’m going to be singing with you, and I did it twice.
PC: And the neighborhood pets are just now starting to return.
KM: Actually, yes, probably. OK, Mark. Tell me about your new post here at Life Tree Counseling Center. Tell people how they can get a hold of you, what days you’re available, what you really feel that you would like to tell people?
MJ: I’m excited about being a part of Life Tree. One, because of the wonderful people I get to partner with, but I am available at Life Tree on Fridays and Saturdays, and you can get in touch with me through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can go there and make an appointment. I’m available both of those days, and I primarily do pastoral, marital, premarital counseling and that’s kind of the area that I have expertise and love in, but I would love to meet with anybody, particularly a couple that is looking to get married. I believe that one of the most important things a couple can do upon wanting to get married is to have premarital counseling. There are so many couples that don’t do that, and there are so many people who spend so much time preparing for a wedding, which is good, but I think that more importantly than preparing for the wedding is to prepare for marriage. That’s what I walk with people through. Also, there are people who – marriage is tough. We’re human beings. All of us have junk that we bring into the marriage and we’re selfish people by nature and all of us need a little
checkup every once in a while. No matter where you are in your marriage, whether you think you have a good marriage, whether you have issues. People talk about irreconcilable differences. I believe that two people, if they are willing to do whatever it takes, and they’re willing to do it God’s way, that there is nothing that they cannot be healed from, nothing that can’t be forgiven, nothing that can’t be totally restored in their marriage, and I would find it my honor and joy to walk with couples, whether it’s the husband or the wife or the couple together towards that restoration. Give me a call at Life Tree and I will, or e-mail me there, and I would be more than happy to meet with you.
KM: Give them the number. 972-234-6634, and your extension is….
PC: This has been fun.
KM: Mark, what a pleasure.
MJ: Than you, I will come back.
PC: You’d better. Do people just want to hug you the first time they’ve met you? Because this is the second time we’ve talked. I feel like I’ve known you forever. I want to hug you and you’re not even my type.
MJ: You know what, Phillip? I’m a hugger.
PC: You’ve got the Huggy Bear look.
MJ: I don’t wear his clothes. I am a very person. I am a hugger. I want to spread that. I want to spread the joy and the love that I’ve been given. Like I said, I’ve been through a lot. I’ve been through some very dark days, but I’ve come out of those days and I feel like it’s my responsibility to show others the same. PC: I appreciate it. We are going to do this again and next time, we’re going to dig a little deeper into this counseling that you do and getting into some of the nuts and bolts.
MJ: I’d love to do that.
PC: Thank you Mark, it’s been fun. Say goodbye, Kathleen.
KM: Goodbye Kathleen.
PC: See you next time.