BCC Staff Note: At the 2012 NANC Biblical Counseling Conference, the Board of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC) announced that they had voted unanimously to elect Heath Lambert as the next Executive Director of NANC. They also announced a three-year transition plan with current NANC Executive Director, Randy Patten. To read more about the announcement please read our BCC post Dr. Heath Lambert Named New NANC Executive Director.
In this BCC three-part Grace & Truth blog mini-series, we will be interviewing Heath Lambert, Randy Patten, and Steve Viars (who served as the Chair of the Transition Committee). Today in Part Two, we interview Randy Patten. For Part One, read our BCC Interview with Heath Lambert.
BCC: “Randy, before we ask you about the NANC leadership transition, could you please tell our readers about yourself, your background/training/experience, and also about your family?”
RP: “I was born and raised in southeastern Ohio by Christian parents. I trusted Christ as my Savior as a young boy at church camp. By age 14, I was headed toward vocational Christian ministry. I met Cindy at Cedarville University and we were married the day I graduated. While earning a M.Div. at Grace Theological Seminary I was mentored by David Jeremiah while he was pastor of Blackhawk Baptist Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Through his influence I was called to pastor a church across town and served there for 12 years. Jim, our son was born four days after I became a pastor, so we did our part to contribute to church growth. Our daughter Becky was born 18 months later. I left that pastorate to serve our state fellowship of churches as a pastor to pastors and a consultant to the 123 churches in our group. I resigned from that position 12 years later to become the Executive Director of NANC. Bill Goode, my friend, mentor, former pastor of Faith Baptist Church, Lafayette, IN, and part-time Executive Director of NANC died unexpectedly in 1997. That set the wheels in motion for me to be his successor. In addition to these ministries, I served as a counselor and trainer at Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries in Lafayette, IN for over 24 years, driving there on Mondays from wherever I was living at the time. Cindy and I have been married 41 years and she has been my partner in ministry. Our children and their spouses love the Lord and have given us six wonderful grandchildren. I am a truly blessed man.”
BCC: “You approached the NANC board some time ago and let them know that in several years you would be retiring. People rarely do that in the business world. Rarely in the church/para-church world. That takes faith in God’s care. That takes trust in your board. What is it about the NANC board and your relationship to them that encouraged you to take this ‘step of faith’?”
RP: “The NANC Board of Trustees is comprised of men who love God, His Word, His church, and hurting people. Their commitment to NANC grows out of those four loves. We were in the initial stages of a strategic planning process, seeking to identify ways we could maximize NANC’s impact for Christ in the future. I did not want them to be limited in their dreaming because of my weaknesses and limitations. New leadership, or even the prospect of it, encourages creativity. I wanted to make it easy for them to think about the possibilities if I were not the Executive Director. In addition, leadership transition is marked by many significant decisions. I wanted them to have ample time for deliberation. I have been a friend and a ministry colleague of these men for decades and I trust them. I also believe that if I seek to act in the best interest of God’s work through NANC, that God will take care of Cindy and me. I fully anticipate that a significant part of that care will come through the NANC Board. ”
BCC: “We’ll talk about the ministry transition in a moment. But first, what will the transition be like for you and your wife, Cindy?”
RP: “Earlier you accurately described what we are doing as a step of faith. Cindy and I have never walked this path before. I have been the key leader at my place of employment since 1974, with the benefits and liabilities of that position. Taking a less prominent role in the administration of NANC is intended to release me to focus on my areas of giftedness and greatest joys in ministry. This will allow Cindy and me to travel and minister together more frequently and we are looking forward to that. We love the members and friends of NANC. We anticipate that this change in my responsibilities will lead to increased opportunities to personally encourage many of them.”
BCC: “Why did you suggest a three-year transition period? How will it work? What are the benefits of an extended transition like this?”
RP: “I have served on the boards of three Christian non-profit organizations. I watched the long-term leaders of two of those organizations prepare their respective boards for his retirement. Each gave their board plenty of time to consider the qualities needed in a successor and to find the ideal candidate. One of the men had been preparing a key staff member to be his successor and they worked closely to facilitate a smooth transition. The common denominator in both cases was plenty of advance notice to the board of trustees.
Our plan has Heath working part-time for NANC in year one, speaking at several of our training events, planning the 2013 annual conference, completing the requirements for Fellow membership level, and in general learning the ropes. He will become the Executive Director on October 1, 2013 and I will become the Director of Training and Advancement. During years two and three, I will seek to do all I can to make Heath successful in implementing his vision for NANC. The focus of my responsibilities then will be speaking at training conferences, supervising counselors pursuing certification, and expanding efforts to develop new NANC Fellows. I will also seek to generate income to fund Heath’s vision. In 2015, I will complete 41 years of vocational Christian ministry and with God’s help I intend to finish being effective and working hard.
The benefit of an extended transition like this is that NANC benefits from Heath’s ideas, energy, and skills while also benefitting from my gifts, historical perspective, and relationships. As we help one another, NANC’s ministry will be expanded and enhanced. Two are better than one.”
BCC: “You’ve known the incoming NANC Executive Director, Heath Lambert, for some time. Tell our readers about your relationship and about what you’re most looking forward to in working with Heath.”
RP: “Heath is easy to love and respect. He is very bright, gifted, well-trained, committed to NANC’s values and purposes, has strategic relationships, and is full of energy and ideas. I believe God is getting ready to expand his influence both denominationally and geographically. I am honored to have a front row seat to cheer him on and watch how God uses him.”
BCC: “Someone says to you, ‘What’s NANC?’ If you had just sixty seconds, or just a paragraph, to answer, what would you say?”
RP: “NANC is a friend to any Christian who wants to learn how to minister God’s Word to hurting people and to do so with confidence, skill, and compassion. We provide a structured path to develop those skills. It includes classroom instruction, selected reading, an open-book theology and counseling exam, and private coaching on your own counseling cases. If you are humble enough to invite scrutiny of your theology, understanding of counseling principles, and your own counseling practice, you will love NANC. We are pursuing excellence in biblical counseling. Check us out at our website: www.NANC.org.”
BCC: “Randy, you’ve been at this for some time. How has NANC changed, grown, and developed during your tenure as Executive Director?”
RP: “NANC is primarily a certifying organization. We certify both individual biblical counselors and biblical counseling training centers. When I became NANC’s first full-time Executive Director in 1997, we had approximately 200 members and three certified training centers. Today we have 1,041 members serving in 16 countries around the world. We also have 47 certified training centers in the United States. We have four people who work for NANC full-time and two part-time. NANC has also initiated training programs for deaf individuals and launched an effort to provide biblical counseling training and resources to military personnel and their families.”
BCC: “What have been some of the most exciting aspects of your role as Executive Director? What will you miss the most?”
RP: “One of my great joys occurs on Tuesday of our annual conference when we recognize individuals who have completed the certification process in the previous year. This year there were 137! I get to publicly present their certificate and get my picture taken with them. A similar joy is recognizing the men who have completed the rigorous process of becoming a NANC Fellow. I currently teach at every NANC-sponsored event around the country. It brings me great joy to show the superiority of Christ and His Word to our world’s views of relationships and problem solving. I love training Christians in how to use the Scriptures to really help people. Sooner or later there will come a day when NANC has a training event and I won’t be there, for the first time in 18 years. That will be a sad day for me. ”
BCC: “Of course, you’ll be passing the baton of visionary leadership to Heath. However, you’ll have a role in shaping the future vision. What is your vision for NANC in the next decade?”
RP: “Under Heath’s capable leadership I look forward to what NANC does in training and certification being improved and expanded. Our efforts to provide biblical counseling training and resources to deaf individuals and to military personnel and their families need to be further developed. We need further strategies to reach younger generations. Helping biblical counselors in other countries form an appropriate certifying organization for their country has great potential. Exploring how technology can be used for training and evaluation of counselors would be worthwhile. There is no shortage of exciting possibilities.”
BCC: “What do you see as the relationship between NANC and the BCC? Also, how can the BCC support and encourage you, Heath, and NANC in the years ahead?”
RP: “NANC was started in 1976 and limped along for many years, in large part because we had part-time Executive Directors, most of who served on a volunteer basis. They were good men, but NANC was not their primary ministry. I became NANC’s first full-time employee in 1997. The organizational growth that we have experienced since then has not been primarily to my gifts and skills. It has been due to the fact that every day since October 1997 I have been paid to think about and give myself to advance NANC’s mission.
When the idea of forming the BCC was initially being floated I immediately recognized the potential for good. I also realized that if the BCC was to take off, from the beginning it would require paid staff. That is why early on I asked the NANC Board of Trustees to give a total of $50,000 to help the BCC get off to a strong start by enabling the organization to hire staff from the get-go. God had made it possible for NANC to be generous at that time. I am proud of that strategic donation and what the BCC has become. It is an honor for me to serve currently as the Secretary of the BCC Board of Directors. I am also pleased that a third of the BCC Council Board includes NANC certified counselors.
The BCC will continue to encourage both Heath and me as it continues to do what it was started to do—build relationships in the biblical counseling community and make people alert to good resources. We appreciate the BCC being a megaphone for NANC events, just as you are for other good organizations.”
BCC: “We know you well enough, Randy, to know that when the transition is over, you’re not going to be eating bon-bons (what is a bon-bon anyway?) and watching TV all hours of the day and night. How do you see God using you after this transition is complete?”
RP: “My plan is to retire from fulltime employment in 2015. I look forward to spending additional time with Cindy, my children, and grandchildren. There are several parts of our county and world that Cindy and I would like to visit. I hope to still speak at NANC Counseling & Discipleship Training (CDT) and other conferences. I intend to be available to people who ask me to be their supervisor as they pursue NANC certification. I look forward to more reading . . . and putting a lot more miles on my motorcycle. Bill Goode, my predecessor as Executive Director of NANC, while retired taught biblical counseling for a week in another state, came home, and went to heaven the next day. I would be happy if my experience was somewhat similar.”
BCC: “Randy, is there anything else that you would like to share with our Biblical Counseling Coalition readers?”
RP: “Yes, three things. First, I could not have done what I have done in ministry without the faithful, loving, sacrificial support of my wife, Cindy. Proverbs 31:10-11 describes her and my experience, ‘An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her and he will have no lack of gain.’
Second, I am so thankful for the privilege of serving God in vocational ministry and for being exposed to biblical counseling two years into my professional career. My training in biblical counseling changed my life, family, and ministry. At this point, I can enthusiastically agree with Luke 9:24 where Christ says, ‘. . . whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will find it.’
Third, I am thankful to the NANC Board of Trustees that has granted me the privilege of serving in this capacity for 15 years, in spite of my many weaknesses and failures. They are gracious men.”
BCC: “Thank you, Randy, for your faithful ministry for the Lord as the NANC Executive Director. We commit to praying for you and you Cindy during and after this transition time.”
Join the Conversation
Randy won’t like this, but we’re going to ask anyway… By God’s grace, how has Randy Patten impacted your life? Through Christ’s grace, how has Randy Patten’s leadership of NANC impacted your life?