Elder Interview: Rick Coughlin

“Who are the Elders of SSBC?”  I can’t say I’ve never heard that question before.  Our church is at the size where getting to know our Elders is not always easy.  Yet God has called these men to be our shepherds (1 Peter 5:2), teachers (Acts 6:4), and examples (1 Peter 5:3).  We should know them!  Being a Pastor at SSBC gives me the privilege of rubbing shoulders with these godly men on a regular basis.  They are wise leaders and enjoyable to be around.  More importantly, they love the Lord, love their families, and love our church.  To help us get to know them better, I plan on asking each eight questions and posting their answers here.  Enjoy.  And please pray for these men and their families.

Past interviews:        Eric Mello        Tim Ells        Jim Kleberg        Kent Forkner        Bill Haeck

COUGHLIN-RICK-293Rick Coughlin might be the friendliest person I know.  More than just gregarious, Rick is large-hearted and cares deeply for people.  He’s faithfully shepherded his Growth Group for a number of years.  I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve witnessed Rick put a hand on the shoulder of a struggling friend and pray right there, following one of our worship services.  And I’ve been that friend he’s prayed for as well!  It’s a privilege to work alongside this brother.   Here’s a bit more about Rick and his family…

1.  How long have you and your spouse attended SSBC?  What drew you to SSBC?

We began attending SSBC around 1984 or 85.  Both Cheryl & I had been raised in the Roman Catholic Church and had fallen away in our teenage years for a variety of reasons.  When our kids came along we recognized that we needed help raising them in a Christian environment and began searching for that right environment.  After visiting several churches of different denominations, we settled in at a local Congregational church.  Once there, we had gotten involved in ministry and began to find that the doctrine and teachings of the church didn’t really align with what Scripture teaches and we began to question those teachings.  Dear friends of ours (Larry & Connie Wagner) were attending SSBC and invited us.  Over a summer break we attended and found that the teaching here was vibrant, alive, and relevant.  Once we returned to the Congregational church the difference was stark.  Shortly thereafter we made SSBC our home.

2.  What is your favorite part about serving as an Elder at SSBC?

I am incredibly blessed by pastoring the people at SSBC.  God has brought so many people across my path that I have been able to speak with, encourage, pray with, and more.  I love the fellowship of the Godly men I serve with on the Board.  I love the pastoral staff and ministry leaders of this body of believers and I have grown so much in my own faith and knowledge of Christ.  Truly I have been blessed far more than I have given.

3.  When was a time that God undoubtedly showed His faithfulness to you and/or your family?

I’m not sure the correct expression is “God’s faithfulness to us” as much as it’s our recognition that God is worthy of having our faith put in Him.  He has shown Himself to be worthy of our devotion and faith countless times, whether it’s in provision of our daily needs; giving me the words – or even the impetus – to speak to someone who needs encouragement; or even looking back at my life and my family and recognizing how truly blessed I am – and the fact that very little of any of this has anything to do with me!

4.  What are three Christian books that have significantly influenced your life?

Aside from the Bible itself, I think the first book to influence me was “The Late, Great Planet Earth” by Hal Lindsay.  I’m not sure that I fully agree with its theology now (actually, I’m not sure how much I remember of its theology after nearly forty-five years!)  My brother recommended the book to me and it is probably the first time I starting thinking about the reality of God as opposed to some ethereal force out there.

The next book is “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis.  I think this is the first book to give me a grasp of who God is and what he’s done for me.  (As a matter of fact, it’s been a long time since I’ve read this one.  I may just read it again.  I don’t think it ever gets old!)

5.  What is God currently teaching you?

I think that God is teaching me humility and patience.  It wasn’t that long ago that everything in life seemed to go easy.  Over the last few years nothing seems to be easy.  I’m recognizing (once again!) that without God’s intervention and involvement nothing happens.  My reliance on Him is complete.

6.  What is one thing about yourself that most people don’t know?

This is a tough question.  I think that most people who know me, know just about anything of importance there is to know about me.  My life tends to be an open book.

7.  What do you like to do for fun?

What’s fun?  Who has time for fun?!  I like movies, reading, listening to music – all kinds of music, long walks on the beach, sunsets ….  (I’m kidding about the walks on the beach and sunsets.  Well, maybe not, but I don’t like to do them as much as the others)

8.  How can the SSBC congregation encourage and serve the Elders?

Seriously, pray for us.  We are no different than anyone else in the congregation.  We’re all screwed up and need God’s grace and mercy regularly.  Please pray for us that we would be good shepherds, faithfully discharging the work He has called us to.  Pray for protection for us and for our families.