I just finished reading again a book that was suggested in connection with my last class. I don’t read books more than once very often, but I was looking for a quote to use in my last paper and got wrapped up in the book and wanted to soak it in again. It’s “In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership” from Henri Nouwen – a brief book sharing some lessons learned as Nouwen moved from a Harvard professorship to a community for mentally handicapped people called Daybreak. (For more about Nouwen, check out this website from Wil Hernandez – who incidentally was the teacher for my class.)
He points out a lack of spiritual depth in much of Christian leadership today and blames the pursuit of relevance, popularity, and power (though his description of relevance is a bit different than I’d always thought of relevance) and prescribes prayer, confession/repentance, and theological reflection. He ends “with the image of the leader with outstretched hands, who chooses a life of downward mobility. It is the image of the praying leader, the vulnerable leader, and the trusting leader. May that image fill your hearts with hope, courage, and confidence...”
He uses Jesus’ comments to Peter about being led where you do not wish to go to draw this picture of servant leadership. Really made me think of my own image of leadership. How I’ve defined it for myself and what I’ve aimed for as a leader. I’ve got to say, I’ve allowed myself to be distracted by managing things (“Don’t mess up.”) to the point of no longer being led and leading.
But it’s risky to be led by Jesus. If we’re going to be able to lead the emerging generation to have any depth of relationship to God whatsoever – it’s a risk some of us must take.