Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Nouwen on Leadership...

I'm reading through some material I am presenting tomorrow on Nouwen and I was struck with his words on leadership and the temptation of power.
"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."

Nouwen, H. (1993). In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership

"What makes the temptation of power so seemingly irresistible? Maybe it is that power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love. 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."

Nouwen, H. (1993). In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership
Interesting thoughts that remain acutely relevant for us.


Anonymous said...

Interesting thoughts indeed, that seem to contradict a lot of other material on contextualisation etc. The idea of being "completely irrelevant" is hardly the stuff of mission teaching is it? So is the challenge in developing missionary leaders to find a way of harmonising the two without compromising either?

I'm sat here preparing a mission studies seminar on anthropology of all subjects, so my thinking is necessarily skewed just now!

Hope all is well with you and yours. What do you make of this being 43-ness?

Anonymous said...

Wow, those quotes have got me thinking. As a Christian leader, I have suffered some knocks from people who are Christians, which I think tends to make me withdraw more behind a facade of power rather than vulnerability and love.

I need a constant reminder that to be vulnerable and loving, even with the asscoiated costs, is something Christlike (The cross) and I need to reorient myself often.

Thing is it takes some time to recover, and summon the courage to act Christlike again, when vulnerability and love are used in such a way that causes the leader pain.

Anonymous said...


vulnerability is costly but necessary. we've seen that in your vulnerability people begin to believe too that they are accepted by God and the church. i thank God for that revelation that has come to us through many hardships. i also thank God for people like you and Kate

Sue W

Gordon said...

Hi Stephen,

On being 'completely irrelevant' - I read not in terms of outward engagement but rather inward alignment.

Hope you guys are well and enjoying lif in t North!

Gordon said...

Thanks Sue - it is hard taking off the mask! It was great seeing you and teh kids the other week.