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In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership

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Henri Nouwen was a spiritual thinker with an unusual capacity to write about the life of Jesus and the love of God in ways that have inspired countless people to trust life more fully. Most widely read among the over 40 books Father Nouwen wrote is In the Name of Jesus. For a society that measures successful leadership in terms of the effectiveness of the individual, Father Henri Nouwen was a spiritual thinker with an unusual capacity to write about the life of Jesus and the love of God in ways that have inspired countless people to trust life more fully. Most widely read among the over 40 books Father Nouwen wrote is In the Name of Jesus. For a society that measures successful leadership in terms of the effectiveness of the individual, Father Nouwen offers a counter definition that is witnessed by a "communal and mutual experience." For Nouwen, leadership cannot function apart from the community. His wisdom is grounded in the foundation that we are a people "called." This beautiful guide to Christian Leadership is the rich fruit of Henri Nouwen's own journey as one of the most influential spiritual leaders of the 20th century.


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Henri Nouwen was a spiritual thinker with an unusual capacity to write about the life of Jesus and the love of God in ways that have inspired countless people to trust life more fully. Most widely read among the over 40 books Father Nouwen wrote is In the Name of Jesus. For a society that measures successful leadership in terms of the effectiveness of the individual, Father Henri Nouwen was a spiritual thinker with an unusual capacity to write about the life of Jesus and the love of God in ways that have inspired countless people to trust life more fully. Most widely read among the over 40 books Father Nouwen wrote is In the Name of Jesus. For a society that measures successful leadership in terms of the effectiveness of the individual, Father Nouwen offers a counter definition that is witnessed by a "communal and mutual experience." For Nouwen, leadership cannot function apart from the community. His wisdom is grounded in the foundation that we are a people "called." This beautiful guide to Christian Leadership is the rich fruit of Henri Nouwen's own journey as one of the most influential spiritual leaders of the 20th century.

30 review for In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mollie Reads

    Glad to return to this foundational book on Christian leadership. It's so simple, but so full of truth bombs. Glad to return to this foundational book on Christian leadership. It's so simple, but so full of truth bombs.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jay Hawes

    Nouwen's writing is so powerful! Humility just drips from every word. He desires, more than anything, that Jesus would be more so he could become less. I was so impressed with this little book on leadership. He challenges the reader: 1. Do you want to be relevant? Pray more. The Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self. That is the way Jesus came to reveal God's love. (30) 2. Do you want Nouwen's writing is so powerful! Humility just drips from every word. He desires, more than anything, that Jesus would be more so he could become less. I was so impressed with this little book on leadership. He challenges the reader: 1. Do you want to be relevant? Pray more. The Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self. That is the way Jesus came to reveal God's love. (30) 2. Do you want to be popular? Minister more. It is Jesus who heals, not I; Jesus who speaks words of truth, not I; Jesus who is Lord, not I. (60) 3. Do you want to lead? Be led more. What makes the temptation of power so seemingly irresistible? Maybe it is that power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love. (77) This will be a book I come back to year after year to remind myself as a leader that I need to be led.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Shawn Enright

    1. The Christian leader eagerly enters into mutually transforming relationships of co-suffering love with those she leads. This relational model is distinctly Christian, because it would otherwise be inappropriate for, say, a psychologist and her client to have this sort of mutual vulnerability—even though both the Christian minister and psychologist intend to provide forms of healing. 2. The Christian leader actively resists the temptations of becoming relevant, spectacular, and powerful. She re 1. The Christian leader eagerly enters into mutually transforming relationships of co-suffering love with those she leads. This relational model is distinctly Christian, because it would otherwise be inappropriate for, say, a psychologist and her client to have this sort of mutual vulnerability—even though both the Christian minister and psychologist intend to provide forms of healing. 2. The Christian leader actively resists the temptations of becoming relevant, spectacular, and powerful. She resists these temptations by contemplative prayer, confession and forgiveness, and theological reflection. 3. The Christian leader does not minister alone, though she may hold a distinct, singular office. Jesus always sends us to minister “two by two” (Luke 10:1), which ensures mutual accountability and encouragement. Take Jesus at his word, Nouwen says: if you have a speaking engagement, or your presence is requested in any way — try to invite a friend to accompany you. You may be surprised at the fruit it bears. —— My two takeaways: - Jesus asks us to be fruitful, not successful (to borrow from Nouwen) When my affections are sanctified and properly aligned, I do not desire notoriety or power, though both may come, as was Nouwen’s case. My task is to actively resist the seductions of the world—which are now only exasperated by social media. I have no doubt that Nouwen would not be on Twitter. It is only getting harder to follow Jesus faithfully and to establish Christian credibility. - Water seeks the lowest place (to borrow from Rohr) When my affections are sanctified and properly aligned, my life will tend toward the poor in spirit. Poverty, to Nouwen, is a fruit of Christian leadership. The Christian leader carries only a staff — for in Christ she forfeits all of her bread, bags, and money (Mark 6:8). And only after forfeiting the world is she able to open her hands and receive the gifts God wants to give her. What am I holding onto that Jesus is asking me to give up, so that he may give me something better?

  4. 5 out of 5

    Molly Heald

    This book is a great reminder about keeping your eyes out for the temptations found in leadership: relevance, popularity, and power. It provides great action steps to take when facing these temptations, and is a really humbling reminder that most of what Jesus asks of us is simply “do you love me?”

  5. 4 out of 5

    Grace Anne Cochrane

    brb, crying at the love of Jesus.

  6. 4 out of 5

    James

    Through the lens of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness, and his commissioning of Peter at the end of John's gospel, Nouwen sets a trajectory for Christian leadership. He wrote this book after leaving academia for L'Arche and one of the best parts of the book is his description of how Bill, a developmentally disabled man, shared in Nouwen's ministry in presenting this material in Washington, D.C. Nouwen questions contemporary leadership culture and the chasing of relevance, popularity and power. Through the lens of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness, and his commissioning of Peter at the end of John's gospel, Nouwen sets a trajectory for Christian leadership. He wrote this book after leaving academia for L'Arche and one of the best parts of the book is his description of how Bill, a developmentally disabled man, shared in Nouwen's ministry in presenting this material in Washington, D.C. Nouwen questions contemporary leadership culture and the chasing of relevance, popularity and power. I wonder how Nouwen would critique social media. This short book is one of my favorites from Nouwen.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mark Stevens

    The single greatest book on leadership I have ever read!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    3.5 3/3 of my punishment books You know what, this was pretty good!! Do I think my father heeds this man’s advice? Not really. Do I dislike the phrase Christian leadership because of my past with that phrasing? Absolutely, but this man was a priest so he can say it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey Hansen

    One of the most powerful books I have read! As a period of consistency, and even a little bit of comfort comes to an end, I am realizing more of who I am and who I was created to be. This book helped me connect the dots, and somewhat make sense of how to navigate transitional moments and times. I often forget my call to be vulnerable and to continue to go into spaces that force me to be uncomfortable. As organized ministry may die down, having a heart for knowing Jesus more will not. Jesus is af One of the most powerful books I have read! As a period of consistency, and even a little bit of comfort comes to an end, I am realizing more of who I am and who I was created to be. This book helped me connect the dots, and somewhat make sense of how to navigate transitional moments and times. I often forget my call to be vulnerable and to continue to go into spaces that force me to be uncomfortable. As organized ministry may die down, having a heart for knowing Jesus more will not. Jesus is after all, continually after the renewal and growth of my heart. In times of not knowing, I am reminded that my identity is not in my own understanding or only what I can see. My identity is solely in the truth that I am redeemed and because of that, I am then sent as a powerful, celebrated daughter.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sam Myers

    I actually read this book twice as I sat with it on the beach these past couple of days. I would read each little chapter (probably 4-6 pages each of large type in my version) first just to get a sense of it and let it hit me in the ways it needed to, then go through again to underline, meditate, and rest with what Nouwen was saying. This was an excellent book and a wonderful experience - both affirming and convicting, daunting and welcoming. It's strange to say this, but this little book overwh I actually read this book twice as I sat with it on the beach these past couple of days. I would read each little chapter (probably 4-6 pages each of large type in my version) first just to get a sense of it and let it hit me in the ways it needed to, then go through again to underline, meditate, and rest with what Nouwen was saying. This was an excellent book and a wonderful experience - both affirming and convicting, daunting and welcoming. It's strange to say this, but this little book overwhelmed me more than anything else I've read this year. Though short, it packs a powerful punch, and I strongly recommend it to all, but especially those in positions of ministry or other Christian leadership. This is the second book of Nouwen's I've read, and I'm excited to add to that total several Nou titles over the coming months. (Get it? Did I do good? Can I sleep inside today, father?) -Sam

  11. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    Re-read, and I cried again. This is such a beautiful, concise, and revolutionary sermon/reflection on the heart of Christian leadership (or, really, just Christian life in general). Nouwen is brilliant, but his interactions with Bill leave the lasting mark (as Nouwen fully acknowledges!). The Christian leader, Nouwen asserts, must reject the temptations of relevance, individual heroism, and power, and instead embrace the sacrificial love of Jesus as a way of life. The temptations are battled thr Re-read, and I cried again. This is such a beautiful, concise, and revolutionary sermon/reflection on the heart of Christian leadership (or, really, just Christian life in general). Nouwen is brilliant, but his interactions with Bill leave the lasting mark (as Nouwen fully acknowledges!). The Christian leader, Nouwen asserts, must reject the temptations of relevance, individual heroism, and power, and instead embrace the sacrificial love of Jesus as a way of life. The temptations are battled through the disciplines of contemplative prayer, confession and forgiveness, and true theological reflection (discerning the guiding hand of God in all our affairs). This is the hope of an irrelevant leader that Nouwen has, and it's a beautiful, convicting vision.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Austin Mcgrath

    I had to read this for a group in my church, There are some biblical truths in this book, however nothing new or unordinary. In this book he makes some cringy/questionable statements like "we have to be mystics" "we have to be the incarnation" and abandons some definitions of words similar to Rob Bell. Like bad definition of what a mystic actually is or what theology is. He also claims theologians find it hard to pray. If you want an excellent book on Christian leadership I would not recommend t I had to read this for a group in my church, There are some biblical truths in this book, however nothing new or unordinary. In this book he makes some cringy/questionable statements like "we have to be mystics" "we have to be the incarnation" and abandons some definitions of words similar to Rob Bell. Like bad definition of what a mystic actually is or what theology is. He also claims theologians find it hard to pray. If you want an excellent book on Christian leadership I would not recommend this book, he seems very confused on what terms mean, different denominations, etc. Perhaps pick up an Albert Mohler book on leadership,

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bill Russell

    Fr. Nouwen is masterful. He presents a version of Christian faith that is very different than the evangelical American brand I learned. It is rich and true to Jesus. His advice for leaders in this century is profound. The only slight thing that bothered me was the notion that Nouwen was sacrificing much by living among the profoundly disabled. The rewards of such a leading always outweighs the cost.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Wishnew III

    Everything you’d expect if you’ve read Nouwen before. And in just that way, it is fresh and vibrant with the Spirit of God.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jeice

    This was an okay book, 2.5 stars I'd give it. It started off with me bracing myself to roll my eyes because my last outing with Henri Nouwen went pretty horribly (see my Life of the Beloved review). After getting over my initial trepidation, I actually got my hopes up that this book would be a catalyst for some deep soul work after reading a very thought-provoking and challenging chapter! Unfortunately, the next chapter put a damper on that hope, and for the most part a lot of my issues with Nou This was an okay book, 2.5 stars I'd give it. It started off with me bracing myself to roll my eyes because my last outing with Henri Nouwen went pretty horribly (see my Life of the Beloved review). After getting over my initial trepidation, I actually got my hopes up that this book would be a catalyst for some deep soul work after reading a very thought-provoking and challenging chapter! Unfortunately, the next chapter put a damper on that hope, and for the most part a lot of my issues with Nouwen's style did end up rearing their flowery, unclear, well-intentioned-but-ultimately-unhelpful-and-impractical heads. Nothing in the book made me want to rage-quit it or need to take breaks this time, so that was a plus. Even still, there were just too many passages where Nouwen would triumphantly make a claim like he thought he had just proved or revealed something amazing that left me wanting. Also, he's not a researcher and doesn't claim to be, but he kind of pretends to be. He made sweeping generalizations about the state of affairs of the church and leadership that were clearly his own personal experience and then go on to state something to effect of, "So you see, the Christian leader of the future must become like such and such." Dude, your generalization wasn't even (in my experience) generally true! An example of a similar problem is when he asserts that "the original meaning of theology was union with God in prayer." Uh....WHAT?! Unless everything I or anyone I've ever talked to has been lied to about the way words and etymology work, that's not at all the original meaning of "God-study." You can't (or shouldn't) just be making things up to make your point, even if it does match your flowery, unclear, well-intentioned-but-ultimately-unhelpful-and-impractical aesthetic. Anyways, I'm giving it 1 star for not saying anything so profoundly unhelpful/borderline heretical that it made me want to rage-quit too often, 1 star for the really good chapter that got my hopes up, and .5 stars for the scattering of good thoughts in the other chapters. Also, it was a super quick and easy read, so that's a plus too. I'm writing this review off of my memory of the book, so I may come back and edit this later.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kayla

    After literal decades of hearing and seeing Henri Nouwen quoted, referenced, and read out loud, I am glad that I have now actually read one of his books! This book did focus pretty specifically on leadership, so I think I would have even more takeaways from a longer or broader text, but I really appreciated the insight shared, and I can easily see why his thoughts and words are so foundational to the modern Christian movement. I especially liked his focus on the temptations of Jesus, as it was a After literal decades of hearing and seeing Henri Nouwen quoted, referenced, and read out loud, I am glad that I have now actually read one of his books! This book did focus pretty specifically on leadership, so I think I would have even more takeaways from a longer or broader text, but I really appreciated the insight shared, and I can easily see why his thoughts and words are so foundational to the modern Christian movement. I especially liked his focus on the temptations of Jesus, as it was a new but revealing examination for me.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Matt Allhands

    I try to read this yearly - and something different jumps out at me every time. After a year of struggle this quote is haunting takeaway: “Powerlessness and humility in the spiritual life do not refer to people who have no spine and who let everyone else make decisions for them. They refer to people who are so deeply in love with Jesus that they are readymade to follow him wherever he guides them, always trusting that, with him, they will find life and find it abundantly.”

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Aitken

    Extended meditations on Jesus's temptation and Peter's restoration. Warns against the danger of "needing to be relevant." Great suggestion that ministry should be done in pairs (like the way Jesus sent out the 70). Extended meditations on Jesus's temptation and Peter's restoration. Warns against the danger of "needing to be relevant." Great suggestion that ministry should be done in pairs (like the way Jesus sent out the 70).

  19. 4 out of 5

    Andy Littleton

    I think all Christian leaders should read this. Seriously! It will take you an hour, and it will be an hour surprisingly well spent.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Schroeder

    I try to read this book at least once a year. Essential for all those in Christian ministry.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Caleb Breedlove

    Love this book. Simple yet dense. Yearly read definitely. Nouwenknows how to say much without much fluff. I really enjoy his writings. Looking forward to the next book of his to read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jason Fletcher

    L E A D E R S H I P Practical. Attainable. Read it. Simply read it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Glick

    I loved this book! It is very short and doesn’t waste words. Nouwen is so genuine. An excellent book on leadership and really for anyone.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jim B

    This is just a brief (one hour) reflection written because Nouwen was asked to speak about Christian leadership "in the Twenty-First Century." It's a puzzling assignment given to a priest who lived in a community of people with disabilities for the last decade of his life (he got the assignment about year 3 of that decade). I related to the author because the book is about caring for people over other agendas, and it is focused on Jesus, using the two stories of the temptation of Christ and Jesus This is just a brief (one hour) reflection written because Nouwen was asked to speak about Christian leadership "in the Twenty-First Century." It's a puzzling assignment given to a priest who lived in a community of people with disabilities for the last decade of his life (he got the assignment about year 3 of that decade). I related to the author because the book is about caring for people over other agendas, and it is focused on Jesus, using the two stories of the temptation of Christ and Jesus reinstating Peter by asking "Do you love me?" Rightly, Nouwen points out that Jesus passed by a lot of what we call leadership today, and love and mercy were key to all His interactions. On the one hand, I found the book a little frustrating. When I was younger, I would have embraced the point of this book as a justification for my lack of leadership -- "I'm just busy loving and taking care of people." That's a core part of Christian sanctification, but if you are called to lead, you have responsibilities that if neglected will harm either the people you love or exclude people that should have been served. At a key time in my life I kept asking people what it is to be a leader and many Christians were unable to answer that question, yet I could see that where a Christian leader actually led, more ministry occurred. Not just activity, but ministry. More occurred, for one thing, because a leader "equips" people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up (Ephesians 4:12). Jesus equiped His disciples for works of service and look what happened! Nouwen doesn't deal with some key parts of Christian leadership. On the other hand, Nouwen's experience is a true antidote to the tendency to define leadership in terms the world can understand. I've seen groups of Christians "leading" with their strategies, long range plans, and statistical analysis that leaves everything truly "Jesus" out -- in fact, they weren't into the Word and didn't take a lot of time for prayer. Nouwen embraces being "irrelevant" by the world's standards while being sure to follow Jesus. It may not be leadership in all its fullness, but it helps keep a Christian from the very leadership that Jesus forbad His people when He said, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves." (Luke 22:25-26)

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ben Andrews

    As usual, Nouwen is concise and brief yet ever-profound, filling his deceptively short chapters with insight that are worth continual thought and reflection long after the book is closed. In this book, Nouwen's wisdom helps us to evaluate the way in which we engage our leadership responsibilities and perceive subtle temptations and obstacles that prevent us from growing. He then offers Biblical insight into ways that we can find spiritual life in our ministry, allowing us (and those we serve) to As usual, Nouwen is concise and brief yet ever-profound, filling his deceptively short chapters with insight that are worth continual thought and reflection long after the book is closed. In this book, Nouwen's wisdom helps us to evaluate the way in which we engage our leadership responsibilities and perceive subtle temptations and obstacles that prevent us from growing. He then offers Biblical insight into ways that we can find spiritual life in our ministry, allowing us (and those we serve) to grow. This book is essential for anyone who is serving or leading in ministry, and it is helpful for anyone who truly wants to follow Christ and love others.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Loved it as a succinct and true treatise on Christian Leadership. A whole bunch of books have been written about "servant leadership," and many of them have been given to me over the years. Now I know where the other books were drawing inspiration. This one doesn't say too much or too little, and the incorporation of Nouwen's personal stories make it authentic and memorable. Loved it as a succinct and true treatise on Christian Leadership. A whole bunch of books have been written about "servant leadership," and many of them have been given to me over the years. Now I know where the other books were drawing inspiration. This one doesn't say too much or too little, and the incorporation of Nouwen's personal stories make it authentic and memorable.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Julia Smith-brake

    A wonderful short book that is so inspiring, as Nouwen always is. The essence of the book is summed up in one sentence, “I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self.” (p. 17)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tanner Hawk

    Update: April 11, 2019 After reading this book for the third time I had to bump my rating from four stars to five. This book always gets me where I need to be got. Reading it is like a drinking deep from a cup of crisp, cool water. ------------ August 11, 2018 Nouwen is the man. Super helpful book for anyone in any form of Christian leadership.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mike Jorgensen

    I read this for a course and admittedly against my will. It starts off a little slow, but there were multiple points throughout the book where I had to stop and admire his ability to articulate things I've always thought, point out things I'd never see, and challenge me in ways I hadn't expected. I read this for a course and admittedly against my will. It starts off a little slow, but there were multiple points throughout the book where I had to stop and admire his ability to articulate things I've always thought, point out things I'd never see, and challenge me in ways I hadn't expected.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Suesue

    Life changing, the most influential book (outside the Bible) I have ever read and may ever read.

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