Sunday, September 26, 2010

Thinking about leadership with Henri Nouwen

Henri Nouwen’s short, concise writings convey a real depth of thought and challenge us to think in new ways about the meaning of Christian leadership. His book In the Name of Jesus is subtitled Reflections on Christian Leadership, in which Henri describes the inner experience of moving in to live and minister in L’Arche, a community of mentally handicapped people in Toronto, Canada. Here is one brief passage that will inspire continuing thoughtful reflection:

“This experience . . . forced me to rediscover my true identity. These broken, wounded, and completely unpretentious people forced me to let go of my relevant self—the self that can do things, show things, prove things, build things –and forced me to reclaim that unadorned self in which I am completely vulnerable, open to receive love and give love regardless of any accomplishments.

“I am telling you this because I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self. That is the way Jesus came to reveal God’s love. The great message that we have to carry as ministers of God’s Word and followers of Jesus, is that God loves us not because of what we do or accomplish, but because God has created and redeemed us in love and has chosen us to proclaim that love as the true source of all human life” (In the Name of Jesus, Crossroad Publishing, 1989, pages 29-30).

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