Dear Inner Circle,
Some of our nation’s brightest minds gathered last week to hear various CEOs talk about “Leadership through Crisis and Chaos”. It was an honour to attend the seminar and hear from some incredibly talented people, but I couldn’t help but think that I witness outstanding leadership at Wayside all the time. It comes from people who will never claim to be experts, make a name for themselves or earn a pot of money from what they do.
Walking towards our building yesterday morning, I saw a young woman who had overdosed. A few people had gathered around and in a display of undiluted compassion, they were begging the woman to stay awake and fight for life, until an ambulance could arrive. To make this scene even more dramatic, the woman’s boyfriend, who’d also had a shot and was beginning to panic about living in a world without his girlfriend, produced a needle and proclaimed that he was about to take a second shot so that they might leave this earth together. Some of our Wayside angels demonstrated more leadership and skill than I’ve ever contemplated in any think tank. A couple of staff quietly walked with the man into a near-by alley and without taking any control away from the man, helped him imagine a better day than this one. I’ve never been to a seminar that taught how to harness the imagination of someone whose imagination has all but died. It was one of those powerful moments, more easily overlooked than recognised, when the man saw something in the faces of our people, dropped his second needle, and became responsive to the loving faces around him.
How easy on the surface to judge people in such a moment. Yet who of us really sees what we’re looking at? This young man was taught from 10 years old, how to conceal and sell drugs by people who “rewarded” him without ever loving him or even seeing him as anything more than a means to their selfish ends. Our Wayside staff walked alongside this man yesterday because they believe that where there is a pulse, there is hope. Our vision of ‘Love Over Hate’, asserts a better future even when ALL the evidence seems contrary. We know full well that ours is a stand of faith, even when a more rational response for others might be to stare, shrug shoulders, and walk away.
What our Wayside workers know is that it’s not hard for a person to fall into a hole so deep, that they can feel like nothing from within remains. Sometimes hope has to be caught rather than conjured. Our workers leap into deep holes and without fairy-stories or false promises, they’ll hold a hand and gently walk with someone to a new day – one tiny step at a time.
Anyway, you’ll think I’m talking about an exceptional day but it was just yesterday and like most days, I’m learning about leadership through crisis and chaos from within our walls and on our streets.
Thanks for being part of our Inner Circle,
PS – Long Walk Home starts next Monday 26 October! For those who have signed up, THANK YOU! We have been absolutely blown away by the support, and love seeing all your photos in your fluro shirts. For those who haven’t, there’s still time. Donate to our visitor Josh, or join the movement yourself; and walk 28km over 7 days between Monday and Sunday next week. Your support will send a message to people experiencing homelessness that they are not alone and not forgotten. Sign up here.
Pastor & CEO