Like many of the previous contributors, as I look back over my life I have been fortunate to have had a whole number of people who have inspired me in faith and in leadership, a number of whom have already been mentioned either as the subjects of these articles or the contributors themselves.
But as I reflect particularly over the last ten years one person who stands out in particular for me is Matt Summerfield. I first met Matt properly when I was invited to be part of the Children Matter Forum, which he chaired. You only have to be with Matt for a few minutes before picking up that this is a man who is passionate about God, passionate about his family, passionate about people and passionate about life, with fun as a priority agenda!
When we first met I was really struck by his heart for children and young people and his determination that every young person should have the opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel, to be discipled well and encouraged to take hold of all that God has for them and to be all that God created them to be. To this day, that determination hasn’t wavered or changed and it has been a real privilege to work alongside him over the last ten years.
Matt is one of those people, that no matter how long or short a time you spend with him you can’t help but leave inspired. But more than that, because he is so committed to cheering others on you also leave convinced that you too can make a difference, that you’ve got something to offer and the encouragement to go and do it. Matt has been one of the people who has encouraged me to keep on taking risks, to keep stepping out into new challenges that come my way and to keep my heart fixed on God. I know that it is in no little way because of his encouragement, affirmation, friendship, integrity and sense of fun that Matt has contributed to helping me feel free to be the kind of leader I was meant to be.
Matt’s love for people is contagious, and watching the way that he is always looking to invite and include others to come along on this leadership ride has inspired me to want to be someone who does the same.
He is a man fully intent on living life to the full, taking God at his word, trusting in what God has promised rather than the circumstances that present themselves and has a right sense of confidence that God has put something in him that he can share with others – and this he does continuously and with great energy!