A Book Review
William T Chaney Jr

 

In the Name of Jesus
Reflections on Christian Leadership
Henri J.M. Nouwen

in-the-name-of-jesus.jpgThis book is about Rev. Nouwen’s journey from Harvard as a professor to L’Arche as a member of their community and caregiver. I have skimmed the book several times but this morning I read it as I begin to prepare for charge conference and calling leaders to ministries within the church. The subtitle really made an impact on me this morning so I read the entire book this morning.

This book should be read by all pastors as they evaluate their leadership. There are three movements in the text.

  1. From Relevance to Prayer
  2. From Popularity to Ministry
  3. From Leading to Being Led

Each movement is packed with wisdom from his experience. The most powerful chapter is From Leading to Being Led. Servant Leadership is often oxymoron in the church. Clergy and lay leaders are called to lead by serving using Jesus as our example yet, so often we have adopted corporate mindsets and infused them into how we do church. As a result we loose the essences and effect of leading like Christ.

Professor Nouwen also addresses the role of clergy to truly be God’s representatives in our local communities of faith.

“Most Christian leaders today raise psychological or social questions even though they frame then in scriptural terms. Real theological thinking, which is thinking with the mind of Christ, is hard to find in the practice of ministry. Without solid theological reflection, future leaders will be little more than pseudo-psychologists, pseudo-sociologists, pseudo-social workers. They will think of themselves as enablers, facilitators, role models, father and mother figures, big brothers or sisters and so on and thus join the countless men and women who make a living by trying to help their fellow human beings cope with stresses and strains of everyday living. But that has little to do with Christian leadership because the Christian leader thinks, speaks and acts in the name of Jesus who came to free humanity from the power of death and open the way to eternal life. “

As I survey the leading televangelists, popular revival preachers and many pastors who are leading mega churches I see the fruit of Dr. Nouwen’s wisdom. Beyond the desires for popularity, beyond the denominational politically correct framework, and beyond the “I want people to like me” neediness; the church needs leaders who are theologically centered deep, reflective, critical thinker who can analysis the world and be God’s representatives in the world.

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