I read this book over a year ago and some of the themes raised by Nouwen are still resonating with me. Here are a few:
1. The Temptation: To Be Spectacular. What are ways that I try to do things individualistically? Most everything — around the house; with my health. Instead of asking for help, I tend to say, “I’ve got this.” Why do I hesitate to ask for help? Am I afraid to expose my weakness? Fear of confessing my sin? Instead, we try to show strength, think big, pray big, so that we can become big. I don’t recall “blessed are those who think big for they will become big.” Instead Nouwen calls leaders to listen to Jesus who said, “Feed My Sheep” and to live lives of confession and forgiveness.
2. Henri shows profound insight to the challenges that pastors, ministers and church leaders face: “What if my people [congregation] really knew how I feel?”
He wrote, “When ministers and priests live their ministry mostly in their heads and relate to the Gospel as a set of valuable ideas to be announced, the body quickly takes revenge by screaming loudly for affection and intimacy. Christian leaders are called to live the Incarnation, that is, to live in the body, not only their own bodies, but also in the corporate body of the community, and to discover there the presence of the Holy Spirit.” (pp. 67-68)
This is so powerful. And is an approach that many can’t take because we lack faith. We fear being vulnerable. How do I do this in my church? Can you help us, Lord? Where do you want us to live in the body?
3. Recapturing Community — The need for simple community is real and ongoing. While we desire closer connections with fellow human beings, we fear the disclosure that more intimate connections will bring. Nouwen challenges leaders to allow themselves to be led.
If my friends come for a meal, they will see my old furniture, dirty carpet, and my food choices. What will they think? The first century church saw a vision of the body of Christ and the beauty of enjoying freedom and grace. They looked at each other and saw the resurrected Jesus. Instead of old carpet, we can see the hospitality of Jesus.
This book is available on most every book selling website. Here is the publisher information:
- Paperback: 107 pages
- Publisher: The Crossroad Publishing Company (October 1, 1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0824512596
- ISBN-13: 978-0824512590