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Josh Wilson: Empowering Others to Create New Lives (ep. 632)

Josh Wilson

John O’Leary welcomes Josh Wilson of Mission: St. Louis on the Live Inspired Podcast to illustrate the power of how loving the one in front of you, forging relationships, and creating purposeful opportunity can transform our world.

Josh Wilson had a vision to make an impact on deeply rooted systemic poverty in his community. In learning the importance of listening over telling and how to act with more than just good intentions, Josh has connected families with resources as prevention methods for violent outcomes for more than 16 years.

Today, Josh shares how his non-profit Mission: St. Louis has become a lighthouse for the community, and how they’ve empowered individuals for social and economic growth through relationship and opportunity, breaking the cycle of poverty.

My friends, this conversation illustrates the power of how loving the one in front of you, forging relationships, and creating purposeful opportunity can transform communities and our world.

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  • A man that loves God, a man that loves his family, and a man that loves people.
  • With parents that modeled how to love radically, Josh’s mom also demonstrated the act of forgiveness for him during a particularly rebellious season.
  • A blank slate: After coming to St. Louis for his wife to attend Washington University, Josh got the opportunity to work in a partnership between the downtown YMCA,  couple local charter schools and an affordable housing project.
  • “If you could be a cartoon character or a superhero, who would you be and why?” Using this question to gain trust with a sixth grade classroom, one student shared a heart-wrenching story that inspired Josh to show up, come back and bring friends.
  • In his first year at Mission St. Louis, Josh believed he could alleviate deep-rooted systemic poverty by spewing goods and services across the city. He quickly realized he couldn’t look at everyone as a charity case.
  • “She love the mess out of me.” Jeanetta Stegall, a principal at an elementary school, began working with Josh by addressing literacy and math, and built lasting, loving relationships that made a transformational difference.
  • The drastically under-resourced demographic also held the most cultural capital. For four years, Josh built relationships with those in the group and soon would break bread with many of them every Thursday morning.
  • “We want to be a lighthouse. We want to see the flourishing of our community happen.”
  • “One of the most beautiful things that I get to do on a consistent basis is to look someone in the eye and affirm who they are. If you know that you are loved, that you are valued, that you have a talent and a skill set, and it brings value in this world, it produces the hope that it takes to overcome so many obstacles.”
  • Learn more about Mission: St. Louis here.

Did you enjoy today’s episode? 

You’ll love my 2023 Most Downloaded playlist. This year, we’ve welcomed 50 thought-leaders including Martin Luther King III, Oklahoma City Bombing survivor Amy Downs, New York Times bestselling author and pastor Craig Groeschel… and more. To celebrate, I’ve created a playlist – the 2023 Most Downloaded – for you to enjoy before we boldly move into 2024. Listen to the 2023 Most Downloaded playlist now.


About our sponsor: Keeley Companies wholeheartedly believes that if you get the people right -the results will follow. They set themselves apart with a forward-thinking culture that empowers their people and fosters loyal partnerships. Keeley Companies are a proud sponsor, partner, and super fan of the Live Inspired Podcast. Learn more about Keeley Companies.



  1. Q. What is the best book you’ve ever read?
    A. The Bible and Leading with a Limp by Dan B. Allender.
  2. Q. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today?
    A. Courage.
  3. Q. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be?
    A. My wedding photos and book... and my fly fishing rods.
  4. Q. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be?
    A. My dad because I know that I would leave that porch, challenged, encouraged and laughing.
  5. Q. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
    A. Shut up and listen.
  6. Q. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
    A. Keep going.
  7. Q. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read?
    A. He was a passionate man that loved well.