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Freedom

Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our Executive Director, Garth Jestley, who has decades of experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. Each week he will share insights on life, leadership and faith.

The topic of freedom is currently on my mind. Later this month, I ride my motorcycle in a fundraising event called “Freedom Ride.” I like any excuse to ride my bike, particularly for a good cause. To set the record straight, I don’t sport any tattoos unlike many of the other participants!

Freedom Ride is sponsored by Teen Challenge Canada (TCC). Through six centres across Canada and several more in the pipeline, TCC helps men and women overcome alcohol and drug addiction through a unique faith-based one year residential program. Name notwithstanding, the median age of students is about 30. Virtually the entire cost of the recovery program is borne by donors.

As a member of the board of directors, I have met many individuals who entered the program as their last hope. Through TCC, they achieved freedom from substance addiction and successfully reintegrated into society. A key success factor was their decision to trust in Jesus during the course of the program. Here is one dramatic example of a life transformed through the TCC program.

While the foregoing may not seem particularly relevant to most marketplace leaders, I see parallels. Specifically, many leaders with whom I have done business engage in addictive behaviours. Perhaps most common is an unbalanced focus on business success at the expense of everything else. Sometimes this addiction ends very badly for these leaders and those closest to them.

For many marketplace leaders, the quest for success becomes an addiction.

There are at least two big lessons from my experience with TCC. First, the addict must recognize and take ownership of the problem. Second, the addict must also recognize that overcoming significant problems implies, of necessity, significant cost.

From personal experience as an executive, I was addicted to success and could not see a way out. However, I came to a point where I recognized the problem though not the solution. It took a subsequent encounter with Jesus in my thirties to recognize that the solution was not a self help strategy but my relationship with God.

As to the cost, it is significant. By trusting in Jesus, I chose to forego my autonomy to do whatever seems good to me. On the other hand, I gained real freedom from my addiction to chasing success. Notwithstanding, both business and personal success did follow, for which I give a lot of credit to three great relationships – my wife, my business teams and Jesus Christ.

The following excerpt from the Bible captures both the concept of addiction and freedom from addiction succinctly. Jesus (the Son in this quote) said, “A slave is a transient, who can’t come and go at will. The Son, though, has an established position, the run of the house. So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through.” (John 8:35-36, The Message)

Are you free?

Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.