Like most others I’ve had a lot of key influences in my life. Some of them have been fairly prominent, others quite obscure. This week my thoughts are on a man who played an important role in my life at an early stage, and whose influence went largely unheralded. I was in grade 8 when my friend Stu invited me to a club led by a guy named Steve Markocki. An overloaded Ford Granada worth of preteen boys careened around the church gym each week in wild games of dodgeball, wolfing down snacks, and tried to earn enough points to participate in the year end canoe trip. Steve didn’t immediately seem like a leader. He was short, somewhat round, with a high pitched laugh that came easily. But he had a knack for getting people to join him in new activities, whether it was neighbourhood kids in the club, church men on a canoe trip, or out of practice musicians forming a worship band. His enthusiasm and casual comfort was infectious. He encouraged, inspired, and cajoled people to live life more fully. When Steve died while working as an electrician in 2008 it was the kind of tragedy that left a mark far beyond his deeply loved wife and family. For a guy with little prominence, the line ups and emotion shared at his visitation and funeral demonstrated how truly impactful he was. Later this week I am receiving the Steve Markocki award from Reach Forth at their banquet. It is truly an honour.