- Paperback: 107 pages
- Publisher: The Crossroad Publishing Company; 32117th edition (October 1, 1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0824512596
- ISBN-13: 978-0824512590
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 238 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,834 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership Paperback – October 1, 1992
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A national bestseller for over a decade, now with study guide! In the Name of Jesus is Henri Nouwen's bold, honest, and heartwarming message about Christian leadership.
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When I saw that he had written In the Name of Jesus, a book specifically on Christian leadership, I could not wait to read it. Like most of Nouwen's works, it took me less than a day to read it but it is a book I will not forget.
The book is a response to a simple question: what will Christian leadership need in the twenty-first century? Though written nearly 25 years ago, Nouwen's words still endure today.
As recorded in Matthew 4, after spending forty days in the desert Jesus was tempted three times. Nouwen walks us through each of these temptations and how they are relevant in our Christian leaders today.
Anyone who wants to serve in a ministry environment or serve in any industry with a Christ-like attitude will benefit greatly from this book.
I am a big fan of quotes and my favorite quote from this book: "The mystery of ministry is that we have been chosen to make our own limited and very conditional love the gateway for the unlimited and unconditional love of God."
Nouwen first explains that the temptation of today's ministers is to be relevant. Nouwen says that Jesus also had this same temptation. When Jesus was tempted by the devil in the desert, the first temptation was to turn stones into bread. With so many people in the world dieing of starvation, we all wish at times that we had the power to turn stones into bread. However, when Jesus was asked to perform the relevant behavior of changing stones into bread, he stuck to his mission to proclaim the Word and said, "One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).
Rather than trying to be relevant to the world, a Christian leader should use Jesus as the source of their words, advice and guidance. It is through the discipline of contemplative prayer that Christian leaders can do that. It is not enough for Christian leaders to be moral people, well trained, eager to help their fellow humans, and able to respond creatively to the burning issues of their time. Christian leaders must truly be men and women of God, people with an ardent desire to dwell in God's presence, to listen to God's voice, to look at God's beauty, to touch God's incarnate Word, and to taste fully God's infinite goodness.
The second temptation Nouwen says Christian leaders must avoid is the temptation to be spectacular. This was also Jesus' second temptation in the desert. "Throw yourself from the parapet of the temple and let the angels catch you and carry you in their arms" (Matthew 4:6). Jesus would not do it. He refused to be a stunt man to prove that he had something worthwhile to say. In stead Jesus said "Don't put the Lord your God to the test."
Nouwen says that in today's church, individualism among ministers and priests is prevalent. Many do not have many skills to be proud of, but they still frequently feel that, if they have anything at all to show, it is something they must do solo. However, Nouwen says that ministry is not done solo, but in pairs. In Mark 6:7 Jesus sent the discipline out two by two to conquer evil. We cannot preach the Gospel on our own, we are called to share the Gospel together, in community.
Nouwen goes on to say that ministry is also mutual. Jesus said, "I am the god shepherd. I know by own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep" (John 10:14-15). Ministers have gotten the idea that good leadership means keeping a safe distance form those we lead. However, when the members of a community cannot truly know and love their shepherd, shepherding just becomes a subtle way to exercise power over others.
Nouwen says that the only way to for us to over come this temptation is confession and forgiveness. This does not mean that ministers should bring their own sins into the pulpit. It means that ministers are called to minister with their whole being, including their wounded selves.
The third temptation today's Christian leaders must overcome is the temptation of power. When the devil said to Jesus "All this I will give you if you will bow down and worship me." Jesus replied "It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only" (Matthew 4:9-10). Others say that having power - provided it is used in the service of God and your fellow human beings - is a good thing. Nouwen says that it was this rationalization that caused crusades, inquisitions, and the enslavement of Indians. He says it seems easier to be God than to love God, and easier to control people than to love people.
Nouwen says that a common misconception among Christian leaders is that the older and more mature you get then more capable you become as a leader. However, John 21:18 says, "I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." Nouwen says that the most important quality of Christian leadership is not a leadership of power and control, but a leadership of powerlessness and humility. Powerlessness and humility in the spiritual life refer to people who are so deeply in love with Jesus that they are ready to follow him wherever he guides them, always trusting that, with him, they will find life and fine it abundantly.
Nouwen says that the way to discern where we are being led by Jesus is through theological reflection. Theological reflection is thinking with the mind of Christ. The Christian leaders of the future have to be theologians, persons who know the heart of God and are trained - through prayer, study, and careful analysis - to manifest the divine event of God's saving work in the midst of the many seemingly random events of their time.