A guest speaker at the Van Buren Mayor’s Prayer Luncheon on Tuesday shared his ideas on how faith in God can be used to deal with negative experiences in life.

Using football metaphors, Walt Coleman, National Football League referee and family operator of Hiland Dairy in Little Rock, addressed a group of about 250 on faith and how to combat negativity in the world.

“There’s always going to be negative things that happen. How you deal with those is not only going to affect you, it’s going to affect those around you,” Coleman said. “We all need to remember it’s about faith and that’s what can get us through.”

Coleman started his talk asking the audience to “boo” him, joking that as a referee being booed put him at ease.

Using football metaphors, Coleman described members of the community.

Coleman said there are the offensive linemen, those who work hard and “go to every practice and play in every game” but are rarely recognized for their dedication.

People who “stand up for what’s right” are the referees - the “integrity of the community,” Coleman said.

Coleman called Jesus the “quarterback,” and said it is the responsibility of those with faith to protect him.

All these people must come together as a team, Coleman said.

“It takes everybody working together to be successful,” Coleman said.

Coleman shared stories of his time as an officials and joked about the criticism he receives, but said everyone can only do their best and remember they are an important part of the team.

“We can’t be perfect,” Coleman said. “All we can do is be the best we can be, understanding that we’re going to make mistakes (and) understanding that there are going to be people who criticize us.”

Officiating in the NFL since 1989, Coleman has refereed 26 years of pre-season and regular season games, nine divisional playoffs, six wild card playoffs and two conference championships and was an alternate in Super Bowls XXXIV and XLII.

Since 1974, Coleman has been a fifth-generation participant in the dairy business, and currently serves as controller at Hiland Dairy.

Mayor Bob Freeman spoke before Coleman on the importance for those with faith to make God a part of their daily life.

Sponsored by Kiwanis Club of Van Buren, the annual luncheon was held in the Commons at Van Buren High School.

Pastor Doug Young of the Community Bible Church - Van Buren Campus gave the invocation and closing prayer was given by Pastor Rodney Porter of Momentum Church of Van Buren.

All pastors present also held a special prayer for Freeman.