This week was special. I have received hundreds of congratulatory social media comments, some text messages, a newspaper interview and many personal compliments. On Tuesday, I received a significant local award—The Elmer Tabor Generosity Award. Here is what it represents: “The Elmer Tabor Award was established by the Cape Coral Community Foundation with the purpose of recognizing outstanding philanthropists in our community, those who have a record of exceptional generosity, show civic and charitable responsibility, and demonstrate leadership that inspires others to a life of generosity.” I was suprised just to be nominated and then honored to be named as a finalist. I was very deeply humbled to be the one selected to receive this special award.
But here’s the real truth I’ve learned over my 40 year leadership journey. Legacy leaders understand that leadership is not about them, but it begins with them. To me that means that I accept my role of leadership in inspiring others to generosity. At the same time, thousands of others could have been on the stage beside me receiving that reward. Let me name just a few:
- Linda – my best friend and life partner for the last 45 years. My wife inspires me, encourages me, believes in me, challenges me, coaches me and more! We have been partners together in planting and building a thriving church over the last 32 years. While she has never been a staff member of Cape Christian, Linda has had an extraordinary influence in shaping the church and leading from the sidelines. I wouldn’t be the leader I am without her. The church wouldn’t be what it is without her.
- Co-Leaders– During the description of all the reasons why I received the Elmer Tabor Award, many of the mentions were about ways Cape Christian has given back to our community over the years: A park built for the families of our city; a non-profit health clinic for the uninsured or underinsured initiated by Cape Christian; and involvement in food drives, community-wide events. Successors, staff members, board members, congregational leaders and community leaders have all been instrumental in making the above examples happen. They bought into the vision, refined the vision and did the hard work to carry it out.
- Followers and Supporters– Leaders are only as successful as the many volunteers who follow and support the vision. So many people at Cape Christian have given sacrificially of their time, talent and treasure to accomplish some amazing things over the last three decades. Without that kind of generosity, there would be no award. Thank you so very much to many more than I can possibly begin to name.
- Family– My heritage has set me up for success. Grandparents and parents demonstrated the value of generosity and giving back to the communities in which they lived. Service above self was a top value in my family. My mother is a woman of prayer and has prayed much for me. My father always told me how proud he was of my accomplishments and impact I was having. (In fact I had a few tears this week because I wanted to call my father and tell him of the award, but he died about 7 months ago). And, I’m grateful for my children who have always been my cheerleaders.
- Pastor’s Small Group– I am blessed to have a group of fellow ministry leaders in our city who have mentored, inspired, supported, encouraged, affirmed, challenged, and prayed for me for over 22 years at our weekly lunch meetings. They help me to be a better person and a healthier leader. Thanks guys!
So thank you to all of the above and many more! I am a very blessed leader! I wish I could give each of you a generosity award!