This week we here from Symposium speaker Jon Sanders:
Tell our readers a little bit about your own journey
I started my career in the fire service in 2000 with the Peoria (IL) Fire Department. I worked there until 2004 when I transitioned into pastoral ministry. My family and I moved to a rural community in South Dakota and planted a church. (It’s a long story, but over the years we’ve seen the church grow and I continue to serve as the Lead Pastor to this day.) I stayed connected to fire and EMS serving on my local volunteer fire department and ambulance for a few years after moving to South Dakota. About 4 years ago, I had the opportunity to return to full-time firefighting with the City of Sioux Falls. After graduating the academy and starting my work as a firefighter with Sioux Falls Fire Rescue, I was invited to begin serving on our Peer Support Team. I had the idea to launch a podcast that is solely dedicated to helping the first responder community in this realm. I call it The Fire Inside Podcast. My desire is to bring hope and encouragement to other first responders by sharing stories of people who have overcome various challenges and are now thriving with mental health and resiliency. I feel like l have found a great intersection of my passion for the fire service and my skill set with public speaking and ministry.
Give us a short summary about the topic you will be presenting at the symposium
I have been asked to lead a breakout session dealing with the subject of how having an active faith can be advantageous when it comes to mental, emotional, and physical health and wellbeing. I’m calling my presentation “Faith in the Fire Service: 7 Ways Personal Faith Produces Great Public Servants”. I want to put a huge disclaimer out there that even though I’m a pastor, I’m not approaching this talk from a standpoint of preaching or “converting” anyone to MY personal faith. This conversation will highlight how any personal faith walk can have huge positive implications for us personally, for our crews, and for the communities we serve. I can’t promise that I won’t pass the offering plates when I’m done speaking though! (Just kidding. I just wanted to beat you to the punchline!) Most of the content for my session will be presented from the findings of numerous scientific and medical studies that have been done looking at how people who actively practice some form of religion/spirituality fare much better in physical, mental, and emotional health than those who don’t have a personal faith practice.
Should someone attend your session, what is one take-away (they will learn) that can be implemented immediately?
Essentially, after presenting the findings and evidence, I’m going to bring my presentation down to the following action steps:
- Embrace faith – both your own personal faith, and the faith of others. Even if you’re not a “religious” person, you need to recognize how invaluable someone else’s personal faith may be for them.
- Explore faith. I’m going to challenge you to dig deeper into your faith – whatever that may look like for you personally.
- Express your faith. I’m not talking about being that awkward guy or gal who no one wants to talk to because you’re always trying to impose your personal beliefs upon others. I’m simply going to challenge my audience to live out their faith in practical ways that actually make a positive difference in their personal life and in the lives of others.
I look forward to meeting a bunch of you at the symposium and I would love to have you join me for one of my sessions!