DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

SKY

Written by: on September 14, 2020

Abba

‘Abba, help us along the way, to slow down and stop. Here, may we find home in You as we are reminded of our wandering there, home in You; a light-hearted rest. Home is with us, even in us; Home is along the way and Home is in our destination. In Jesus, Amen.’

Reptilian

Just in from another OD. Depleted yet, thankful. Taking a deep breath and focusing on trying to put some words together to describe what just happened and connect it, somehow to this week’s reading.

Every day, on my way in to serve, I wonder if there will be another OD that we will have to face. With every OD, I wonder if this will be the one that we will lose.

I shudder at the loud knock at the door and, then the words, ‘Pastor Chris, Naloxone…quick!’ There’s panic every time, ‘BANG! BANG! BANG!’, even if the knock is for a glass of water or granola bar. Trauma.

There’s no time for going slow, running for the kit and to the door as fast as I can. ‘Someone is dying outside (I may have to do CPR)’, is screaming between my ears. Then, being directed by voices on every side, all the way to where the person is lying. Sometimes, despite the crowd, the person is on their own, motionless and turning blue.

Often, very close to the community of the Mustard Seed, there’s an angel. His name is Sky. When he is with us, it feels like we are ok even, in the midst of an OD (which is a life or death situation); He brings us Home. Edwin Friedman would be proud.

Not Anxious

In another ‘Not’ book, not Not Knowing, though a reference made of Not Knowingin their book Not Doing, D’Souza and Renner remind their readers that ‘when our context changes or becomes more unpredictable, stress levels rise, and we feel more at the mercy of our circumstances.’1A stressful moment, especially one that involves more than one other person or, a group of people, calls for a leader that is well-differentiated and ‘kept together’. In the context of an OD, I’m a very leaky leader. Albeit, there’s an expectation with the ‘call out’ and door banging, that I need to exude some kind of leading confidence.

In observation of Sky, a young homeless man in his early twenties, his approach is not controlling. His calm demeanour increases confidence in me and others around who find place to help, because we know that he knows. His level of control is natural, there’s ease to it; it does not appear ‘as a defence, an antidote to not knowing, a grasp for certainty,’therefore, his position in leadership is respected and felt as credible.

Walk Away Wondering

There’s an obsession with addiction, a need for fulfilment that teases the mind and body; a desire that must be satisfied. The addict is vulnerable in this state of obsession. In an interview with Psychotherapy Networker, revered speaker on topics related to addiction, Gabor Mate shares that ‘the person with OCD is compelled to perform some behavior but, finds it unpleasant to have to engage in it. It’s not egosyntotic.’A person is made vulnerable by the lack of control obsession causes. Seemingly, the anxious striving for control perpetuates a loss of control.

Yoghurt

The quiet hero, Sky was standing patiently in the lunch line, a little while after the OD had occurred. Head bowed, only glancing up and around the odd time as a deer would be in an open field, I approached him. ‘Sky, you’re such a blessing,’ I told him, ‘can I get you anything, man?’ Whispering back sheepishly, as his voice goes, ‘No, I’m ok.’ Then, as if struck by a wonderful idea, his head perked up and, half smiling and eyes twinkling with hope, he asked if we had any yoghurt. ‘Of course. You got it!’ I answered. Edwin Friedman, in his book Failure of Nerve, notes that ‘in an atmosphere where everything is dire, a vicious cycle develops as a loss of playfulness destroys perspective.’4From serious focus to light-hearted playfulness is how we drift from pain to healing-life every day. Thankful, to follow the leader (his calm and twinkles of life) on this day.

I only wish that Sky’s obsession was yoghurt.

“Abba, I pray for Sky. That he would recognise Home with You along the way. Spirit-of-God, lead him Home to You. In Jesus, Amen.”

 

Bibliography

  1. Renner, Diana and Steven D’Souza. Not Doing: The Art of Effortless Action.(New York, New York: LID Publishing Limited, 2018), 71.
  2. Not Doing, 71.
  3. Dockett, Lauren and Rich Simon. The Addict in All of Us. Psychotherapy Networker, July/August 2017. https://www.psychotherapynetworker.org/magazine/article/1102/the-addict-in-all-of-us
  4. Friedman, Edwin H. A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix. (New York, New York: Seabury Books, 2007), 64.

About the Author

mm

Chris Pollock

Dad of Molly Polly Pastor at the Mustard Seed Street Church Trail Runner

8 responses to “SKY”

  1. mm Dylan Branson says:

    Wow, Chris. The Lord is with you, brother. To be able to see into the crowds around you, to see the inner peace in other amidst conflict, to the ability to build and cultivate relationships, to be a presence — all of these are gifts.

    As we seek Home with one another, we seek a vision of a day of peace, of restoration, of redemption, of wholeness. That drift between the focused and the light-hearted is important; there are times for both and one without the other destroys the inner self. As leaders, I think that’s something we should reflect closely on. When the moment is over, it’s over. As the consequences or effects come later, we can address them, but to be quiet in the aftermath and find that sense of peace and joy in invaluable.

    • mm Chris Pollock says:

      Real. “When it’s over, it’s over”.

      There’s a tearing of flesh and spirit after the tough-breaking moment. Yearning to move on, ‘man, I’d love to move on sometimes and not get so stuck.’

      How to let go of ‘it’. It such a personal journey and ’emotional intelligence’ in a second of feeling so weak could be helpful, keep respectability.

      Being human, eh…and, a leader. Can we combine the two and ask for grace through such vulnerability? Leadership through lament. For example, ‘watch how our leader is affected by pain; watch how she/he faces it. Observe him/her as they are broken and their response to the pain.’

      See him/her smiling…yet, know that she/he is not unaffected? And, the quietness for peace in the spiritual environment and certainty of courage, that there’s a dark night occurring in his/her story?

  2. mm Darcy Hansen says:

    Chris,
    I continue to stand in awe of how God works though you each day in your Mustard Seed community. Your work there is holy and profoundly hard. Your faithfulness to your people is beautiful.

    Can you please clarify what you mean when you call yourself a “leaky” leader during an OD?

    In my reading, I understand you to be grounded and attentive to the person in need and the community at large. Your ability to navigate very difficult, life-threatening circumstances requires an extrordinary measure of self-differentiation and non-anxious presence. What I find most amazing is your ability to remain tender-hearted, thoughtful, and kind despite horrific and often hopeless circumstances. I’m grateful God places angels around you to help support you in the work you’ve been given to do. Such grace.

  3. mm Chris Pollock says:

    Hi Darcy, thanks for taking a second to read and respond 🙂

    As a leaky leader in such as a time as an OD I lose my poise, control (can’t fake it in the best of times) and I become very anxious. My hand shakes, trying to put the syringe into the vial containing Naloxone. I’m not cool (way too fired up).

    I look over at the person turning blue and sometimes I yell at them (who’s dying) to come back, that it’s going to be ok. I’m leaky and leaking out all over the place. Everything seems to be happening so quickly; I get lost quick in the emotion.

    So, to contain myself in moments like that, I’m learning from Sky. There will be a time when I may be on my own and will have to be cool, calm and focused for the sake of the super-vulnerable person in OD (who is loved).

  4. mm Greg Reich says:

    Chris,
    I can not help but feel that I was on holy ground when I read you post. Thank you for sharing. Your statement on the pursuit of control causing a loss of control is insightful. The false concept of being in control hinders our ability to see just how needy we all are. I believe it is in our ability to yield our pursuit of constant control that healing and wholeness begins.

  5. mm Jer Swigart says:

    Thanks for lifting up leadership from an unlikely place. It makes me wonder where Sky’s calm leadership emerges from. While it may be his disposition, a former training before his life took him to streets, or lots of experience dealing with OD’s among his community, there is something about him that causes him to be measured and focused in a moment of trauma. If I were to befriend Sky, I would want to learn of this from him.

    For you, Chris, do you think that your self-critique of “leaky leadership” is accurate or is it simply your experience of yourself in that moment? Do you ever anticipate a moment when you will feel less panic and more confidence? Have you ever lost an OD and, if so, how has it impacted your sense of confidence when another OD emerges?

  6. mm John McLarty says:

    Great post. Loved the connection between D’Sousa/Renner and Freidman. So much of leadership lies in how we show up. I’m in awe of your quiet intensity and humility. Where do you go to find balance?

  7. mm Shawn Cramer says:

    I’ve been reflecting on the role of playfulness in leadership, especially leadership wanting to change the status quo (is there another type of leadership?). I think it’s part of Friedman’s self-differentiation – taking the work seriously, but ourselves not so seriously. What would you add to that?

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