Bill Blankenship, head football coach at the University of Tulsa, recently sat down with the BGCO’s John Strappazon, Baptist Collegiate Ministries director, and the Baptist Messenger for an interview. Blankenship, a member of Tulsa, Liberty, discussed how his role as a football coach is also his opportunity for ministry.
Baptist Messenger: Thank you for talking with us today. To begin, what does it mean for you to truly love God in every aspect of your life?
Blankenship: First of all, loving God is recognizing that it’s not all about me. It’s about recognizing what God has done through His son, Jesus. Once I recognize that, this whole idea of what my life is about becomes that it is really not about me. This is His story! My job is to figure out how that plays out in what He has blessed me with; the talents, gifts, opportunities, experiences, challenges and all that comes with life. The best thing I can do is give it back, and to me, that’s what loving Him is all about.
Baptist Messenger: As the head football coach here in Tulsa, you have a lot of control over what happens. Also, you were a quarterback when you played football yourself, and that allowed you to be pretty much in charge of the field then, too. So how is it that you let Jesus be the “quarterback” of your life?
Blankenship: Well, I’ll be honest with you; I think it’s a struggle at times. It’s very difficult to feel like you’re out of control, and that is an area I have consistently had to work on. Appreciating salvation and Christ’s Lordship are areas that have been growing characteristics in my life. I think intellectually I get it, and I think my heart gets it, too, but my everyday actions don’t always live out that I completely trust God to be in charge. I have had some real practical struggles with this. For example, if I want a job, how much of this is my needing to get out and network, and how much of this is my trusting God to open doors? I’ve been able to strike a little bit of a balance in that aspect. I believe God has put me in a profession where networking is important and knowing people is important, and so I’m going to work and do everything I can within my power and opportunities that I’ve been given, and then rest knowing that the results lay with God.
Baptist Messenger: You talked about how you can do ministry in whatever walk of life you’re in. When and how did you come to that conclusion?
Blankenship: That’s a great question! I was just being a coach, and sometimes, some of the struggles with coaching deal with how your spouse accepts this lifestyle. It is a hard and time-consuming lifestyle that can be a selfish mistress. From the beginning, we were involved with sponsoring FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) and taking kids to camp because this is what had been modeled for me, and I knew I wanted to make a difference. However, I didn’t really have a good understanding of what being deliberately into ministry looked like; I was just kind of doing it as we went along. Well, a wise person was actually counseling my wife and told her she would be able to appreciate and support her husband and his career so much more if she would recognize that he’s doing ministry and not just working a job. So as we started to talk about that, we came to realize that we were both in ministry with the education we were doing. We really just wanted to make a difference for the Kingdom. Ultimately, our wins and losses will fade away, but the opportunity to pave the way for a young person to come to know Christ or even to get pointed in the right direction is something that is of eternal value.
Baptist Messenger: What are some ways that Oklahoma Baptists can be in prayer for you and your ministry?
Blankenship: It’s really pretty simple for us. We ask that the Lord send us the right players and the right coaches to put this staff together. We also pray consistently for the wisdom to know how to lead the players that He sends.