by Paul Moody

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.” Proverbs 3: 5-6

Have you ever sat in a church pew and listened to an appeal from your pastor or some other church leader asking for help with some aspect of church life? Have you said to yourself, “I see the need, but I have no training in that ministry.”

The time was 1995 or 1996, and our church was getting ready to start a new outreach program called “Upward Basketball.” Our education director at the time was standing at the podium, asking for men and women to coach a basketball team. He held up a basketball, while making the appeal, and said, “If you can identify this as a basketball, you qualify.”

He said he needed about 30 coaches because he anticipated around 300 to 350 boys and girls would sign up. There was such urgency in the appeal that I decided to become a coach. I had never coached basketball before, but I like kids, and I like the game of basketball.

I spent the next 10 years coaching first and second grade boys, “upward basketball” at my church. I loved it, my boys loved it, and the parents loved it. On game day, the gym was filled with cheering, happy boys and girls.

When the lower grades were playing, we had two games going at the same time because we were able to have two games running cross court, instead of the full length of the court when the older boys played.

Can you imagine four teams on the court, with approximately 10 players on each team, with mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters and grandparents cheering them on? I think nostalgically of those 10 years with the fondest of memories. My kids called me “Coach Paul,” and my pastor still calls me “Coach Paul.”
What if I had turned that opportunity down because I had never coached before? All those wonderful memories I now have would be nonexistent. I saw one of the fathers whose son I coached recently, who told me Cory still remembers those great days. I told him I still remember Cory with his unorthodox style of shooting the basket, both arms overhead.

He rarely missed making the basket.

Some of the features of “upward basketball” as opposed to regular basketball were the fact that we had a devotional time during half time on practice day and game day. Another feature was that every player got to play the same number of minutes as any other player, regardless of talent.

Yes, some of life’s blessings come from the most unexpected places. Many of us pass up opportunities every day simply because we have never tried the activity, ministry or business venture.

There is a local pastor who regularly asks his church members a simple question: “When’s the last time you did something for the first time?” His question speaks to the fact that life is an adventure, and we need, on occasion, to launch into untried waters. Life tends to be more fun when it is challenging.

I spent the first 25 years of my business career working for just two corporations as a retail store manager. I had been with the second company for about 10 years when they became bankrupt. After much prayer and counseling with my wife, I decided to try an entirely new field of work.

At age 50, I went to work for a nationally known, multi-line insurance company. The income was 100 percent commission, which meant that if sales were bad, my income was bad. I needed a steady income to pay our bills. I found out, after a few months into my new adventure, that only four out of 100 who begin a career in life insurance sales survive after four years.

I received some excellent training. My faith in God, my work ethic and the great training I received not only let me survive but also thrive in this very competitive field of endeavor. What if I had said, “ I don’t think I can sell insurance, I’ve never done that before.” Well, I would have missed meeting and developing as clients, hundreds of people who became my friends over the course of my nearly 14 years as a registered insurance agent.

Upon retirement, I made sure that my book of clients was turned over to an agent that would take care of them. From time to time, the new agent who took over the service of my clients, would tell me how they were doing and pass on to me their kindest thoughts of me as their previous agent.

In summary, the Lord needs all of us to be involved in the life of our church with the many places of service available.

Some of us may have physical limitations on what we can do. One of the ministries that our church has is the prayer ministry. My wife and I have been involved in our church’s prayer ministry since its inception approximately 15 years ago. Members sign up for the hour they will set aside each week to pray for those who have made their needs known. The prayer room is set aside for the purpose of prayer.

The Lord also wants us to be sure to apply the scriptural truth of Proverbs 3: 5-6 to every activity, church ministry or business venture we undertake. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.”

Paul Moody is a member of Oklahoma City, Southern Hills and a regular contributor to the Baptist Messenger. He also is a member of the Capital Association’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Committee.