I've been meaning to throw up a quick blog in reference to Henri Nouwen's great little book, In the Name of Jesus. I know it isn't a new and cutting edge kind of thing, but you'll just have to get over that with me. I don't often read books when they are hot-off-the-press. I prefer to let them steep awhile. Well, Nouwen's book has had plenty of time to do so. The full title is In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership and is taken from a presentation that Nouwen gave on "Christian Leadership in the 21st Century" on the occasion of the fifteenth anniversary of the Center for Human Development in Washinton, D.C.
The book is a quick and weighty read, providing reflections on Jesus' post-resurrection encounter with Peter -- his so-called "reinstatement". Nouwen reflects on just a few phrases of Christ warning his readers against oft-overlooked temptations of leadership and challenging them to pursue the spiritual disciplines of contemplative prayer, confession and forgiveness, and theological reflection. I've actually read this book twice -- a rarity for me -- and loved it both times. It is the kind of book that really demands to be read and re-read again and again. It is a call, really, to a spiritual leadership. As Nouwen puts it,
"The central question is are the leaders of the future truly 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?" (p. 42)
And . . .
"It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life. Jesus asks, 'Do you love me?' We ask, 'Can we sit at your right hand and you left hand in your Kingdom?'" (p. 77)
So, here's a hearty thumbs up and recommendation of Henri Nouwen's In the Name of Jesus. It is an excellent careful read for any Christian leader.