Book Notes: ‘In the Name of Jesus’ by Henri Nouwen

Henri’s task: to speak about Christian leadership in the future


From Relevance to Prayer:

The Temptation: To Be Relevant

“I am telling you all this because I am deeply convinced that 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. The great message that we have to carry, as ministers of God’s word and followers of Jesus, is that God loves us not because of what we do or accomplish, but because God has created and redeemed us in love and has chosen us to proclaim that love as the true source of all human life.”

“While efficiency and control are the great aspirations of our society, the loneliness, isolation, lack of friendship and intimacy, broken relationships, boredom, feelings of emptiness and depression, and a deep sense of uselessness fill the hearts of millions of people in our success-oriented world.”

The Question: “Do You Love Me?”

“The question is not: How many people take you seriously? How much are you going to accomplish? Can you show some results? But: Are you in love with Jesus?”

The Discipline: Contemplative Prayer

“Christian leaders cannot simply be persons who have well-informed opinions about the burning issues of our time. Their leadership must be rooted in the permanent, intimate relationship with the incarnate Word, Jesus, and they need to find there the source for their words, advice, and guidance.”


From Popularity to Ministry:

The Temptation: To Be Spectacular

“Stardom and individual heroism, which are such obvious aspects of our competitive society, are not at all alien to the Church. There too the dominant image is that of the self-made man or woman who can do it alone.”

The Task: “Feed My Sheep”

“We are not the healers, we are not the reconcilers, we are not the givers of life. We are sinful, broken, vulnerable people who need as much care as anyone we care for.”

The Discipline: Confession and Forgiveness

“Through confession, the dark powers are taken out of their carnal isolation, brought into the light, and made visible to the community. Through forgiveness, they are disarmed and dispelled and a new integration between body and spirit is made possible.”


From Leading to Being Led:

The Temptation: To Be Powerful

“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.”

The Challenge: “Somebody Else Will Take You”

“The Christian leader of the future needs to be radically poor, journeying with nothing except a staff….What is good about being poor? Nothing, except that it offers us the possibility of giving leadership by allowing ourselves to be led.”

The Discipline: Theological Reflection

“The task of the future Christian leaders is not to make a little contribution to the solution of the pains and tribulations of their time, but to identify and announce the ways in which Jesus is leading God’s people out of slavery, through the desert to a new land of freedom.”

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