This is my third and final post in a series on Henri Nouwen’s book In the Name of Jesus. These reflections are on “Part Three: From Leading to Being Led”.
The Temptation to be Powerful
Just as Jesus was tempted by Satan to use his power to influence people for his ministry goals, so, Nouwen says, we face the temptation to do ministry in power for controlling others instead of in weakness being led by others.
The true way, according to Nouwen, is for Christian leaders to exhibit these characteristics:
- downward mobility like Jesus toward the Cross – not upwardly mobile toward what is wrongly called ‘success’
- willing to be ‘radically poor’ to follow Jesus into unattractive places – not caught up in the wealth and riches of this world
- allow Christ to form their entire lives – body, mind, heart – not just intellectually following the ideas of Jesus
- help people hear God’s voice in their real lives – not just chattering on about their own ideas
I am reminded of the prayer from The Book of Common Prayer which asks God to show us that ‘the way of Cross is the way of life.’
What sort of leaders are we? Do we lead ‘in the name of Jesus’ or in our own name?
How can we practically let Jesus lead us in his downwardly mobile, humble, poor, and God-oriented way?