From The Associate Pastor/Coach’s Desk: Three Thoughts…

Basketball Coach

I can’t believe that another year of basketball is in the books. This season was a unique one, to say the least. It started off with learning how to use an overflowing bench (we had twenty-one players on the team), and then it finished with some crazy weather & cancellations. At the end of the season, we had to go a week without any practices or games, play a game or two, and then go another week without any practices or games. Despite all the craziness, it was a great season. This was the most talented group I have ever coached, and we ended up finishing 16-0! Even though our record was perfect, I still learned a lot throughout the season about coaching and people. Which, to be honest, is one of my favorite parts. I think the only thing better is watching the kids learn all the same lessons.

You have to be a fan and a critic – As Christians, one important goal we should have in all of our relationships is to help others grow. However, this can be very difficult and frustrating at times. If you are only someone’s fan, then that person will begin to think that they can do no wrong and will stop self-evaluating. If you are only someone’s critic, then that person will begin to think they can do no right, and they will stop taking opportunities to grow because they think they will fail anyway. It truly takes a balance of love and truth. You can build a lot of “relational stock” in someone by being a voice of encouragement to them. That way, when you do need to tell them about an area of improvement, they can trust that you have their best interests in mind. I had a really tough time this year teaching one of my players the importance of this principal, but it was so fun to see it finally click with this player. In fact, it wasn’t until one of the last JV games that this player of mine finally figured it out, and the way it changed the team’s demeanor on the court blew me away!

None of us are going to strike a perfect balance because we all have tendency to lean one way or the other. Personally, I struggle with being too big of a fan. So, I would just say to be very conscious of which way you lean and ask the Lord for strength in those moments you struggle with the other.

Difficulty brings people together – Another goal we should have as Christians is unity. This may seem like a no brainer, but as of late, churches really struggle with this. I believe this comes from people shying away from difficulty (myself included). As Christians, we have an idea that when life is easy, then God is happy with us; and when life is hard, then God must be upset with us. So, we rush around trying to get back to easy. Relationships get hard, so we stop pursuing. Church is imperfect, so we find another one. Life gets busy, so we stop serving. And after it’s all said and done, we find ourselves “disconnected”.  I might get myself into trouble by saying this, but I really believe God grows us together more through adversity than through ease. At the beginning of our basketball season we were blowing teams out of the water, and it was fun, to a degree. It was fun because it gave the bench an opportunity to play, but after a while it got old (even for the players). I just never felt that sense of “team” like I had in previous years when the game was close, or we would be down and have to fight our way back into it. Finally, our last two home games were two of the toughest games I have ever been a part of, and they ended with all twenty-two of us jumping up and down, hugging each other, and celebrating in the locker room. And I don’t think it was because we won. I think it was because we went through something difficult together, and it completely changed our team for the better!

People are sinners, and the church is filled with them. It’s imperfect, which means that serving takes sacrifice. We have to stop scattering to the four winds every time something gets difficult. Instead, we need to focus on how God is using the difficulty to grow us and bring us together for our good and, most importantly, His glory.

Don’t get results and goals mixed – This is a lesson I learned in reading about Coach “K” (The University of Duke), and it is one of my favorite things I have learned. The lesson is to not mix up goals and results. A lot of coaches say that the goal is to win, but I struggle with that mentality. If wining is a goal, then you will be okay for really poor effort in a win to a really bad team and be frustrated with really great effort in a loss against a team that was just better than you. Instead, we need to focus on our effort in what we can control every night. That looks different for everyone. For some players, it might be doing his best to score twenty points every night, but for another player, it might be cheering for his team and reminding his team to box out every time there is a shot.

I think this translates to the Christian life really well because all too often we get caught up in making “good results” our goal. We desire to have a godly family, a thriving relationship with the Lord, or to be a spiritual leader in our church or home. Those are great results, but too ethereal to be goals. If you want a godly family, then focus on leading your family in devotions on a regular basis or having intentional conversations at the dinner table. If you want a thriving relationship with the Lord, then focus on being in His Word on regular basis or setting aside intentional time to pray. If you want to be a spiritual leader, then focus on serving in your local body. Quite expecting others to serve you and start focusing on helping others grow in their walk with the Lord. If you stay committed, and are faithful, then the results will take care of themselves. The results might not be what you thought they were going to be, but you can honestly know that you did your best and can trust the Lord with the results He provides!

I love sports for a lot of reasons, but the biggest reason is that you have opportunity to be regularly put in high pressure situations so that you can practice what God is teaching you!

Think, Pray, Process…

prairie-dawn-winter-morning

Last weekend we had the incredible privilege of having Tim O’Tool and his family with us for Candidation Weekend. He did a great job. From the Q & A Session on Saturday night to his Bible lesson on Sunday morning, Tim demonstrated a true passion for God, His Word, and the people of God. During this dynamic weekend, Tim also proved that he has the experience necessary to hit the ground running at Prairie Flower Baptist Church. In other words, from Tim’s years of experience at High Pointe Church in Altoona, IA, he has a proven track record in working with children, youth, and volunteers. He also has great experience in teaching (both children and adults), administration, and management. In addition to this, he has practical experience in church budgeting matters and church discipline matters. In short, Tim is not a novice to pastoral ministry, but has good experience that will aid him well, if it’s indeed God’s will that he should come to PFBC in April or May 2019. Indeed, the vote for Tim O’Tool is slotted for Sunday, February 24…and may God’s will be done! In fact, as you gear up for this important vote, let me encourage you again to do three things:

  1. Think – Take everything that you saw and heard over this past weekend and think about it. Think through Tim’s life and ask yourself, “From his birth in Carroll, IA to his present-day situation at High Pointe Church in Altoona, IA, has God been preparing Tim for PFBC this whole time?” Think through Tim’s pastoral experience and ask yourself, “With so much experience in different areas of church ministry, has God been molding and shaping Tim for ministry at PFBC this whole time?” Think through Tim’s family and ask yourself, “Do I honestly see this family at home with my family out here on the prairie?”
  2. Pray – After some serious thought, take some time to pray. And pray passionately! Ultimately, we want God’s will to be done, not our own will. Indeed, take all of your thoughts and questions to God in prayer. Lay it all down at His feet. Beg God for wisdom, discernment, clarity, and unity. A vote for a new Associate Pastor is certainly exciting, but we need God’s help and direction. Pray. Then pray again. And may God’s will be done!
  3. Process – The weekend before the vote, I would take Tim’s resume, your Bible (opened to Matt. 28:18-20; Eph. 4:11-16, and Matt. 5:14-16), and a notebook. Process in a moment in time all of Tim’s qualifications and experiences. Match up Tim’s life with the mission and vision of God found in Matt. 28:18-20, Eph. 4:11-16, and Matt. 5:14-16. Then ask yourself, “Does Tim’s life match the heartbeat of the mission and vision of God?” Then flip over to 1 Tim. 3:1-7 and consider the biblical qualifications of a pastor/elder/bishop. Think to yourself, “Does Tim’s life match up to these qualifications?” Journal some thoughts in a notebook. Perhaps talk to your spouse about your thoughts. Pray alone or with your spouse. And then, on Sunday, Feb. 24, confidently cast your ballot as the Lord has led you.

Prairie Flower, this is a special and strategic time in the life of our church. Please be in prayer for Tim and his family. They too need God’s wisdom and discernment. And as the vote for Tim approaches, be sure to think, pray, and process. And as always, if you have any questions or concerns, please approach anyone on the PFBC Leadership Team. We would be glad to help.

Initial Q & A With Our Associate Pastoral Candidate…

pfbc logo

Associate Pastor Ministry Description: To assist and support the Lead Pastor of Prairie Flower Baptist Church (PFBC) with the overall leadership and administration of the church, advancing the church’s Mission and Vision “to be a strong church that makes disciples for the glory of God.” The Associate Pastor of PFBC will be the Lead Pastor’s Chief Advisor and Prayer Partner on all matters related to the church. The Associate Pastor will actively participate in the Teaching Ministry, Visitation Ministry, and Outreach Ministry of the church. Specifically, the Associate Pastor of PFBC will be given direct management and oversight of the Children’s Ministries, Youth Ministry, and Small Group Ministries of the church. This ministry, on average, will consist of 45-50 hours of work per week, with some weeks being far more with emergencies, funerals, etc. Also, as with any job or ministry, there will most certainly be other duties as assigned.

  1. How passionate are you about this type of full-time pastoral ministry? Would you have any competing interests or conflicts of interest as you enter this type of ministry?Since my sophomore year in college I have felt the continual call of God in my life. I have had multiple secular jobs that I excelled at, but even though I mainly enjoyed the work, I was never satisfied as I always found more joy and fulfillment in whatever ministry I was participating in. The struggle has been always wanting to represent Christ through my work at my secular employment while also trying to give my best to the church. Ultimately, I believe I need to be using my gifts in a full-time vocational ministry.”
  2. How does your wife feel about you being in this type of full-time pastoral ministry? Is she excited about the possibility of moving to southeast Iowa?My wife has always participated with me in most of the ministries I have performed. She has always been a huge source of encouragement and a great partner. I can confidently say she and I are excited to continue to walk down this road together.”
  3. All pastoral ministry is Gospel ministry. Describe both your Gospel conversion and your calling into the Gospel ministry.I grew up in a Christian home where we were regularly taught the Gospel. I accepted the Gospel at a very young age when my mother explained that my sin separated me from God and condemned me to an eternity in Hell. However, through the free gift of Christ because of His work on the cross, God offers forgiveness to all who repent and call on His name. I did that at age four and have been trusting Christ’s finished work on the cross ever since. The reason I believe that I am called into the Gospel ministry is that I recognize that God uses the faithfulness of believers to bring the Gospel to the lost. Because I am so thankful to have grown up in a setting where I could hear the Gospel, and that was the means that God used in my own conversion, I in turn want to be an instrument to further God’s work in the lives of believers and non-believers for the Gospel.”
  4. Let’s talk church polity: What is the ideal relationship between pastors, deacons, and the congregation?The pastors (both vocational and lay pastors) should be men of the highest quality. They should be men who embody the qualifications in 1 Timothy and Titus. These men should be the ones who provide the vision and primary leadership for the church, but their primary role is to care for the spiritual needs of the church. Deacons should also be men who meet the deacon qualifications laid out in 1 Timothy and Titus, but their role differs somewhat from that of the pastors/elders. The deacons should play an advisory role to the pastors as well as looking out for the physical needs of the flock. They should also be ‘shock absorbers’ in that they are promoting unity through their words and actions. The congregation should take an active role in searching the Scriptures to hold their leadership accountable to abide by biblical mandates. Everyone involved needs to humbly seek God’s will and be looking out for other’s interests and viewing others as more important than self. The pastors should never try to lord it over the flock or ram things down their throat that the congregation is not on board with. They should lovingly lead the flock not exercise dominion over them.”
  5. What are your greatest strengths in ministry? Conversely, what are your greatest weaknesses in ministry?I believe that my greatest strength in ministry is that I have a passion to see believers grow and become more sanctified. It is that passion that drives me to love and want to spend time with Christians. Because I often wonder what my life would be like if I didn’t know Christ, it makes me strive to push others around me to find joy and fulfillment in walking with Christ themselves. When it comes to my greatest weaknesses, I would say that I have the propensity to allow weariness to lead to procrastination with tasks that I am not passionate about.”
  6. Describe the most painful moment of your entire life/ministry. What did you learn? How was God faithful?We recently had a miscarriage. I love being a father and was looking forward to another child so much. I had to constantly remind myself (and still do) that none of my children, or future children ,or really anything I have for that matter truly belongs to me. Everything I have belongs to God and He has promised that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. I think for me, I have never struggled having faith in God’s omnipotence. I know God can do whatever He wants. I guess where my faith is demonstrated to be weak is trusting that even the things that don’t feel good, God allows it, and it really is good. I think coming to grips with this will be a continual lifelong process.”

 

CANDIDATION WEEKEND DETAILS

Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019

5:30 PM = Opening Remarks/Prayer/Food Fellowship

6:30 PM = Q & A Time: Text Questions to 850-776-5504

8:00 PM = Game Night: Family Feud!

9:00 PM = Final Remarks/Prayer/Dismissal

Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019

9:00 AM = Combined Sunday School: “Being a Doer of the Word”

9:45 AM = Prairie Time/Name Tag Sunday

10:15 AM = Morning Worship Service: “Mission, Vision, and Leadership” w/Mini Q & A to Follow…Sermons by Tim O’Tool Found at http://highpointealtoona.com/sermon-speaker/tim-otool/

12:00 PM = Growth Groups/Small Group Time