Dear Inner Circle,

Unreserved joy and support has flooded in all directions since we announced that Pastor Jon Owen would be my successor as CEO and Pastor of the Wayside Chapel. Months ago I had a conversation with David Gonski who is often referred to as, “The Chairman of Everything”. He asked me who my successor might be and at that point, I had no indicator about where our Board’s exhaustive process might terminate. He said, “Don’t appoint a manager. Appoint someone who is inspirational.” I indicated that his response surprised me, as he knew how large Wayside had become. He followed up by saying, “You can teach an inspirational person to manage, or you can hire the right skills to help them, but you can’t teach a manager to be inspirational.” My spirit soars because our Board chose an inspirational person to lead Wayside into the future.

Thank you for the hundreds of messages of thanks and congratulations. It is such an honour to be stopped on the street by so many who just want to wish me well. The only compliment that’s hard to hear is something like, “Well, you really built an empire.” I have no defence to this statement as clearly we’ve grown dramatically, but we’ve only grown because in this age where some people are busy building walls, our mission of creating a community with no “us and them”, captures people and speaks to a deep longing for a better world. If I leave behind executives or managers who are set on growing their empires, I’ll nurse a sense of deep regret, for we who have been captured by the awesome become the greatest of all human contradictions when we think we have a franchise.
Mountains against twilight sky
Over Easter, Wayside had significant exposure in the media. On Saturday I was heading off to do both radio and TV interviews and as I walked out the door, Robyn said, “They’ll ask you about the cricket.” Almost before she finished her sentence I replied, “They won’t”. What could be funnier than me having an opinion about cricket? Sure enough on live television, the interviewer asked me if I thought we should be forgiving our infamous cricket players. The question was put approximately, “You’re a person who has exercised great leadership, so what is your opinion about this failure of leadership in cricket?” My answer was, “I’m also someone who has failed. Hands up who hasn’t failed, seriously failed. We learn by failure, and really the best thing you can do is embrace your errors. We spend most of our time trying to cover our errors. When you see someone who says “I did wrong, I’m sorry” – that’s a real human moment and we ought to be applauding those people.” Everyone who exercises good leadership does so because someone has forgiven them and seen better in them after failure. I had to play cricket at school only once. I took the opportunity to read while in the field and at one point a lot of voices yelled, “Longy, wake up, that’s the ball.” My response was, “I can see it” and returned to my book. I guess I’m a cricket commentator now.

Street people and visitors all love Jon and it’s a joy for me to witness the endorsement from the gutter as well as from the highest places. The expression of care from the street for me is also touching. One fellow put his hands on both my shoulders yesterday and said, “I’m so glad you’ve been part of my life”. It means the world to me. Many appreciate that I’ll still be here but in a reduced way. One woman said yesterday, “You’ll miss being the king pin”. I can’t remember when I’ve heard a statement that is less true than that one.

That’s enough for now. Someone put this week on “fast forward”. Thanks for being part of our inner circle,

Graham

Rev Graham Long
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel

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