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on July 25, 2001
If you applied Evelyn Wood's technique to this book, you could finish it in 10 minutes... and you would probably gain nothing from it. This is a book to take your time with, think about, and come back to.
Nouwen was asked to speak at a conference about "Leadership in the 21st Century" and this book is the text of that speech.
The book tells the story of Nouwen's journey from lofty chaplain and teaching positions at Harvard, Notre Dame, and Yale to a "lowly" position as the Pastor at a community for the mentally handicapped. He uses this experience to outline a radical paradigm for 'leadership' characterized not by ambition and 'upward mobility', but by humility, vulnerability, and servanthood.
The book is a simple one, but the concepts are truly revolutionary and counter-cultural. This book deserves some real attention.
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on July 6, 2001
I read this book in an hour, but that one hour of reading produced many more hours of personal thought and reflection about what it means to be a leader in ministry who truly reflects (albeit imperfectly) the Savior we serve.
Nouwen is addressing this book to 'priests and ministers' but I think many of the principles he discusses are very applicable to almost anyone who wants to serve God in ministry, even in non leadership capacities. I was particularly struck by what I thought was a critical point he made when he discussed how those of us who serve in ministry can often get sidetracked and distracted in our work for God when we begin to equate our service with our own glory and not God's. He talks about how people are susceptible to impure motives when serving God, and this is a very critical point. While he doesn't explore this in as much detail as I might have liked, the message is clear. As leaders in ministry, we will regularly encounter and serve people who are in tough situations. And while it's a wonderful thing to minister to those who are hurting in one form or another, we need to realize that this is a position of tremendous responsibility. Having this responsibility can tempt people into coveting power or influence, which can lead to any number of abuses once our motives for service are not pure. All the more reason to enter into Christian leadership with the right motives and a heart that is right with God. Nouwen did not explore this in great detail, but he does explore it within the context of being an effective leader for God who has joy in their service and whom God uses to the fullest for the benefit of those we serve.
Because of its shortness, it is far from a comprehensive look at honorable Christian leadership. But I think the topics he chooses to cover are handled well, and speak very eloquently to the heart that yearns to serve God with joy. I think that Nouwen puts forward a number of ideas that if implemented, will be successful in sparking joy in the hearts of Christians who serve God, and will result in joy and transformation not only for the Christian who is serving, but also for those he/she serves. It is a plan of action that allows God to refine us and those we serve, and in my view, there is no higher purpose for ministry then this. A good book.
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on March 19, 2001
This book is not just for formal Christian leaders, but for anyone who wants to be focused on what is really important in the Christian life. It is really short, and you could definitely read it in less than 2 hours (probably closer to 1 hour). But it will remind you of what being Christian is all about--being genuine and vulnerable, and loving others through that vulnerability. It is a beautiful picture of leadership, and about how as a leader we can be set free to be ourselves and enjoy God and love others. In a lot of ways, Nouwen shows how the most effective leadership is very simple and has been done for a couple thousand years. It's about emptying ourselves, taking up our cross, and sharing that journey with those in our care. This book is well worth the short amount of time it will take to read.
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on October 9, 2001
Nouwen packs so much wisdom into so little space. These aren't cerebral facts, these are life-altering, heart-changing ideas. These are words to fuel a revolution.
Essentially, in his simple and loving manner, Nouwen tells us that we've got it all wrong and that we need to get back to the basics. "Much Christian leadership is exercised by people who do not know how to develop healthy, intimate relationships and have opted for power and control instead." This quote by Nouwen not only hits the nail on the head, it pinpoints the problem of serving God in an official capacity. Many have insulated themselves from relationships, often under the impression that they must show only their good side as a minister of the gospel; thus they wrestle alone with the sins of the flesh.
This short book attempts to refocus leaders' eyes on the basics...and the basics, as viewed here in poignant and startling clarity, take a lifetime to learn. Nouwen manages to make this all seem not only possible, but desirable. Not only helpful, but necessary. Each time my mind began to get in the way, his words brought me back to the responses of the heart.
To start and finish this book, Nouwen tells us about his mentally-handicapped friend Bill. By tucking his message between the very real love and efforts of his own life, Nouwen punctuates his words and shows us that they can, indeed, impact our own lives.
Even if it takes me 81 years to get it all figured out.
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on December 11, 2002
Another five star book that's less than 125 pages: between this, "I Had Seen Castles," and "Life Together," I'm beginning to really appreciate the shorter books.
The author of this book comes from an intersting background: he is a highly educated priest in the Catholic church, served on influential boards, and became a professor at Harvard University. Then, he gave it up and took a job working among mentally handicapped people in Canada. This book, a speech in its original form, is part Nouwen's process of adjusting to his new life and part a chronicle of lessons he's learned working among the developmentally disabled.
This book is primarily speaking to Christian pastors, emphasizing the need to "get back to the basics" of faith, especially not letting yourself get caught in the trap of thinking too highly of your own importance. However, it is an excellent read for pleasure as well. I would highly recommend it.
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on August 26, 1998
Using the three temptations of Christ, Henri does a superb job of bringing the three temptations to everyday life. He answers important questions of today by addressing one central idea, identity. The strength of this book is in the three identity issues, "I am what I do" "I am what others say about me" and "I am what I control."
Nouwen does a great job of shutting down cultural messages to focus upon one point, our identity in Christ.
A must read for anyone in Christian Leadership, especially those who teach others and desire to become relevant leaders for today. Even though this book is not the most theologically sound, the central idea is how to combat the cultural messages of America to become powerful, spectacular and relevant.
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on January 12, 2000
I read this little book several years ago as part of a college class during the last semester before I graduated and entered full-time ministry. I enjoyed it then, but it was not until recently, when I picked it up again, that I was so incredibly moved by this author who seemed to understand so much about leadership than most of the big-name authors on leadership. "In the Name of Jesus" has had a major impact upon the way I view ministry. It is only 80 pages long and can easily be read in one sitting--you will do yourself a huge favor if you read and apply it. I name it among the top 5 books on ministry ever published.
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on August 29, 2000
Nouwen invites us into the daily life of Jesus through his reflections upon the three temptations of Christ and his call to three disciplines of the spiritual life. Classic Nouwen: practical, easy to read, profound spiritual insights for everyone who wants to live more deeply in Christ's love.
For another book from The Crossroad Publishing Company on the daily practice of the spiritual life, this one written for parents, look into "The Family Cloister: Benedictine Wisdom for the Home", by David Robinson (New York: Crossroad, April 2000).
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on May 13, 1998
Henri Nouwen learned much from members of L'Arche, a community of severely disabled people in Canada. In this book he suggests, out of his own experience of life at L'Arche, a radically counter-cultural tactic: that to be like Jesus one must give one's power away, divest oneself of human privilege and status, and practice the downward mobility of Christ. His illustrations are moving and powerful, showing how his own attitudes and actions were changed as he put this living philosophy into action. This is a transformative book.
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on November 18, 2003
In Nouwen's work during his time at Daybreak community in Toronto, he reflects on Christian leadership and what it takes to lose oneself in downward mobility, the way of the cross. Using the passage from John with asking Peter, "Do you love me?" Nouwen uses grace and style in one of his more powerful books. I was touched by the call to Christian ministry in pairs, and being fully rooted in intimacy with Christ. Highly reccomend!
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