I have just finished reading a gem of a book I received yesterday (81 pages of large print). Henri Nouwen In the Name of Jesus, reflects on Christian leadership as he considers his transition from academic teaching to serving with mentally disabled adults. Here’s a snippet towards the end:
“The task of 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.
Christian leaders have the arduous task of responding to personal struggles, family conflicts, national calamities, and international tensions with an articulate faith in God’s real presence.
They have to say “no” to every form of fatalism, defeatism, accidentalism or incidentalism which make people believe that statistics are telling us the truth. They have to say no to every form of despair in which human life is seen as a pure matter of good or bad luck.
They have to say “no” to sentimental attempts to make people develop a spirit of resignation or stoic indifference in the face of the unavoidability of pain, suffering and death.
In short, they have to say “no” to the secular world and proclaim in unambiguous terms that the incarnation of God’s Word, through whom all things came into being, has made even the smallest event of human history into Kairos, that is, an opportunity to be led deeper into the heart of Christ.
The Christian leaders of the future have to be theologians (he has previously written about the utter importance of truly knowing God’s love and of contemplative prayer), persons who know the heart of God and are trained – through prayer, study, and careful analysis – to manifest the divine event of God’s saving work in the midst of the many seemingly random events of their time….
….This is a hard discipline, since God’s presence is often a hidden presence, a presence that needs to be discovered. The loud boisterous noises of the world make us deaf to the soft, gentle, and loving voice of God. A Christian leader is called to help people to hear that voice and so be comforted and consoled” (p.67-69)
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