This past week I was honoured with a new award developed by our MP (Member of Parliment), Alex Nuttall as part of Canada’s 150th Anniversary celebrations. The John Graves Simcoe Medal of Excellence was awarded to 45 recipients in the Barrie community who have demonstrated community leadership and positive influence. People in the City of Barrie nominated recipients with the final roster being chosen by our City Mayor, Jeff Lehman and MP Nuttall.
What was so honouring about this accolade was that I was included as a recipient alongside local legends and heroes who have given their life to public service. Former majors, businesspeople, entrepreneurs – all of which have contributed a lifetime of service. It was an honour just to be included on a list with them!
Many of the recipients I had interviewed for the Barrie Historical Archive and was already familiar with their achievements. Others, including some younger than me, were inspirational in what they have accomplished already. One 12 year-old named Zach will be running from Barrie to Ottawa to raise money for youth mental health. Yes, he’s 12 years old. You can learn more about Zach’s mission here. While most kids his age are SnapChatting selfies, this guy is pulling off a Terry Fox stint. Impressive.
This whole experience put me in a state of reflection this week. What drives a community leader? What bug are community leaders bit by that causes them to invest so much in things that don’t yield a pay check? I can’t answer for others, but I can answer for myself.
I live for Jesus Christ. At this point you may be thinking, “Oh, he’s one of those religious Bible thumper types”. Not so much. What I mean is that my relationship with Jesus Christ and commitment to loving Him is what fuels me to serve my community. Sure, I enjoy history and people and event planning. But I only love those things because God made me that way. Part of worshipping Him is using who he made me to love and serve others.
When people see my contributions to the community, when they spend time with me, when they experience my passion, drive and intensity, more than anything I want them to see God’s love for them. Rest assured, I’m far from perfect and often fail at being the beacon of light I aspire to be. Those who work closest with me can attest to this! But the thing that keeps me involved in the community is the opportunity to build relationships with amazing people, learn from them and by God’s grace, live the Gospel before them.
Everyone has a platform of influence. For some it may be large. You may be the CEO of an impressive company. Others may be the quiet, but authoritative voice in a friend’s life. How you use your influence is critical. Like the small rudder of a ship, influence can guide, direct and set the course for someone’s life.
I pray that my rudder is both guided by and pointing people to Jesus Christ.