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Henri Nouwen was a spiritual thinker with an unusual capacity to write about the life of Jesus and the love of God in ways that have inspired countless people to trust life more fully. Most widely read among the over 40 books Father Nouwen wrote is In the Name of Jesus. For a society that measures successful leadership in terms of the effectiveness of the individual, Father Henri Nouwen was a spiritual thinker with an unusual capacity to write about the life of Jesus and the love of God in ways that have inspired countless people to trust life more fully. Most widely read among the over 40 books Father Nouwen wrote is In the Name of Jesus. For a society that measures successful leadership in terms of the effectiveness of the individual, Father Nouwen offers a counter definition that is witnessed by a "communal and mutual experience." For Nouwen, leadership cannot function apart from the community. His wisdom is grounded in the foundation that we are a people "called." This beautiful guide to Christian Leadership is the rich fruit of Henri Nouwen's own journey as one of the most influential spiritual leaders of the 20th century.


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Henri Nouwen was a spiritual thinker with an unusual capacity to write about the life of Jesus and the love of God in ways that have inspired countless people to trust life more fully. Most widely read among the over 40 books Father Nouwen wrote is In the Name of Jesus. For a society that measures successful leadership in terms of the effectiveness of the individual, Father Henri Nouwen was a spiritual thinker with an unusual capacity to write about the life of Jesus and the love of God in ways that have inspired countless people to trust life more fully. Most widely read among the over 40 books Father Nouwen wrote is In the Name of Jesus. For a society that measures successful leadership in terms of the effectiveness of the individual, Father Nouwen offers a counter definition that is witnessed by a "communal and mutual experience." For Nouwen, leadership cannot function apart from the community. His wisdom is grounded in the foundation that we are a people "called." This beautiful guide to Christian Leadership is the rich fruit of Henri Nouwen's own journey as one of the most influential spiritual leaders of the 20th century.

30 review for In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mollie Reads

    Glad to return to this foundational book on Christian leadership. It's so simple, but so full of truth bombs. Glad to return to this foundational book on Christian leadership. It's so simple, but so full of truth bombs.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jay Hawes

    Nouwen's writing is so powerful! Humility just drips from every word. He desires, more than anything, that Jesus would be more so he could become less. I was so impressed with this little book on leadership. He challenges the reader: 1. Do you want to be relevant? Pray more. 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. That is the way Jesus came to reveal God's love. (30) 2. Do you want Nouwen's writing is so powerful! Humility just drips from every word. He desires, more than anything, that Jesus would be more so he could become less. I was so impressed with this little book on leadership. He challenges the reader: 1. Do you want to be relevant? Pray more. 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. That is the way Jesus came to reveal God's love. (30) 2. Do you want to be popular? Minister more. It is Jesus who heals, not I; Jesus who speaks words of truth, not I; Jesus who is Lord, not I. (60) 3. Do you want to lead? Be led more. What makes the temptation of power so seemingly irresistible? Maybe it is that power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love. (77) This will be a book I come back to year after year to remind myself as a leader that I need to be led.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Grace Anne Cochrane

    brb, crying at the love of Jesus.

  4. 4 out of 5

    James

    Through the lens of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness, and his commissioning of Peter at the end of John's gospel, Nouwen sets a trajectory for Christian leadership. He wrote this book after leaving academia for L'Arche and one of the best parts of the book is his description of how Bill, a developmentally disabled man, shared in Nouwen's ministry in presenting this material in Washington, D.C. Nouwen questions contemporary leadership culture and the chasing of relevance, popularity and power. Through the lens of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness, and his commissioning of Peter at the end of John's gospel, Nouwen sets a trajectory for Christian leadership. He wrote this book after leaving academia for L'Arche and one of the best parts of the book is his description of how Bill, a developmentally disabled man, shared in Nouwen's ministry in presenting this material in Washington, D.C. Nouwen questions contemporary leadership culture and the chasing of relevance, popularity and power. I wonder how Nouwen would critique social media. This short book is one of my favorites from Nouwen.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mark Stevens

    The single greatest book on leadership I have ever read!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    3.5 3/3 of my punishment books You know what, this was pretty good!! Do I think my father heeds this man’s advice? Not really. Do I dislike the phrase Christian leadership because of my past with that phrasing? Absolutely, but this man was a priest so he can say it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey Hansen

    One of the most powerful books I have read! As a period of consistency, and even a little bit of comfort comes to an end, I am realizing more of who I am and who I was created to be. This book helped me connect the dots, and somewhat make sense of how to navigate transitional moments and times. I often forget my call to be vulnerable and to continue to go into spaces that force me to be uncomfortable. As organized ministry may die down, having a heart for knowing Jesus more will not. Jesus is af One of the most powerful books I have read! As a period of consistency, and even a little bit of comfort comes to an end, I am realizing more of who I am and who I was created to be. This book helped me connect the dots, and somewhat make sense of how to navigate transitional moments and times. I often forget my call to be vulnerable and to continue to go into spaces that force me to be uncomfortable. As organized ministry may die down, having a heart for knowing Jesus more will not. Jesus is after all, continually after the renewal and growth of my heart. In times of not knowing, I am reminded that my identity is not in my own understanding or only what I can see. My identity is solely in the truth that I am redeemed and because of that, I am then sent as a powerful, celebrated daughter.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sam Myers

    I actually read this book twice as I sat with it on the beach these past couple of days. I would read each little chapter (probably 4-6 pages each of large type in my version) first just to get a sense of it and let it hit me in the ways it needed to, then go through again to underline, meditate, and rest with what Nouwen was saying. This was an excellent book and a wonderful experience - both affirming and convicting, daunting and welcoming. It's strange to say this, but this little book overwh I actually read this book twice as I sat with it on the beach these past couple of days. I would read each little chapter (probably 4-6 pages each of large type in my version) first just to get a sense of it and let it hit me in the ways it needed to, then go through again to underline, meditate, and rest with what Nouwen was saying. This was an excellent book and a wonderful experience - both affirming and convicting, daunting and welcoming. It's strange to say this, but this little book overwhelmed me more than anything else I've read this year. Though short, it packs a powerful punch, and I strongly recommend it to all, but especially those in positions of ministry or other Christian leadership. This is the second book of Nouwen's I've read, and I'm excited to add to that total several Nou titles over the coming months. (Get it? Did I do good? Can I sleep inside today, father?) -Sam

  9. 4 out of 5

    Austin Mcgrath

    I had to read this for a group in my church, There are some biblical truths in this book, however nothing new or unordinary. In this book he makes some cringy/questionable statements like "we have to be mystics" "we have to be the incarnation" and abandons some definitions of words similar to Rob Bell. Like bad definition of what a mystic actually is or what theology is. He also claims theologians find it hard to pray. If you want an excellent book on Christian leadership I would not recommend t I had to read this for a group in my church, There are some biblical truths in this book, however nothing new or unordinary. In this book he makes some cringy/questionable statements like "we have to be mystics" "we have to be the incarnation" and abandons some definitions of words similar to Rob Bell. Like bad definition of what a mystic actually is or what theology is. He also claims theologians find it hard to pray. If you want an excellent book on Christian leadership I would not recommend this book, he seems very confused on what terms mean, different denominations, etc. Perhaps pick up an Albert Mohler book on leadership,

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bill Russell

    Fr. Nouwen is masterful. He presents a version of Christian faith that is very different than the evangelical American brand I learned. It is rich and true to Jesus. His advice for leaders in this century is profound. The only slight thing that bothered me was the notion that Nouwen was sacrificing much by living among the profoundly disabled. The rewards of such a leading always outweighs the cost.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Wishnew III

    Everything you’d expect if you’ve read Nouwen before. And in just that way, it is fresh and vibrant with the Spirit of God.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jeice

    This was an okay book, 2.5 stars I'd give it. It started off with me bracing myself to roll my eyes because my last outing with Henri Nouwen went pretty horribly (see my Life of the Beloved review). After getting over my initial trepidation, I actually got my hopes up that this book would be a catalyst for some deep soul work after reading a very thought-provoking and challenging chapter! Unfortunately, the next chapter put a damper on that hope, and for the most part a lot of my issues with Nou This was an okay book, 2.5 stars I'd give it. It started off with me bracing myself to roll my eyes because my last outing with Henri Nouwen went pretty horribly (see my Life of the Beloved review). After getting over my initial trepidation, I actually got my hopes up that this book would be a catalyst for some deep soul work after reading a very thought-provoking and challenging chapter! Unfortunately, the next chapter put a damper on that hope, and for the most part a lot of my issues with Nouwen's style did end up rearing their flowery, unclear, well-intentioned-but-ultimately-unhelpful-and-impractical heads. Nothing in the book made me want to rage-quit it or need to take breaks this time, so that was a plus. Even still, there were just too many passages where Nouwen would triumphantly make a claim like he thought he had just proved or revealed something amazing that left me wanting. Also, he's not a researcher and doesn't claim to be, but he kind of pretends to be. He made sweeping generalizations about the state of affairs of the church and leadership that were clearly his own personal experience and then go on to state something to effect of, "So you see, the Christian leader of the future must become like such and such." Dude, your generalization wasn't even (in my experience) generally true! An example of a similar problem is when he asserts that "the original meaning of theology was union with God in prayer." Uh....WHAT?! Unless everything I or anyone I've ever talked to has been lied to about the way words and etymology work, that's not at all the original meaning of "God-study." You can't (or shouldn't) just be making things up to make your point, even if it does match your flowery, unclear, well-intentioned-but-ultimately-unhelpful-and-impractical aesthetic. Anyways, I'm giving it 1 star for not saying anything so profoundly unhelpful/borderline heretical that it made me want to rage-quit too often, 1 star for the really good chapter that got my hopes up, and .5 stars for the scattering of good thoughts in the other chapters. Also, it was a super quick and easy read, so that's a plus too. I'm writing this review off of my memory of the book, so I may come back and edit this later.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Matt Allhands

    I try to read this yearly - and something different jumps out at me every time. After a year of struggle this quote is haunting takeaway: “Powerlessness and humility in the spiritual life do not refer to people who have no spine and who let everyone else make decisions for them. They refer to people who are so deeply in love with Jesus that they are readymade to follow him wherever he guides them, always trusting that, with him, they will find life and find it abundantly.”

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Aitken

    Extended meditations on Jesus's temptation and Peter's restoration. Warns against the danger of "needing to be relevant." Great suggestion that ministry should be done in pairs (like the way Jesus sent out the 70). Extended meditations on Jesus's temptation and Peter's restoration. Warns against the danger of "needing to be relevant." Great suggestion that ministry should be done in pairs (like the way Jesus sent out the 70).

  15. 4 out of 5

    Andy Littleton

    I think all Christian leaders should read this. Seriously! It will take you an hour, and it will be an hour surprisingly well spent.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Schroeder

    I try to read this book at least once a year. Essential for all those in Christian ministry.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jason Fletcher

    L E A D E R S H I P Practical. Attainable. Read it. Simply read it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Glick

    I loved this book! It is very short and doesn’t waste words. Nouwen is so genuine. An excellent book on leadership and really for anyone.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ben Andrews

    As usual, Nouwen is concise and brief yet ever-profound, filling his deceptively short chapters with insight that are worth continual thought and reflection long after the book is closed. In this book, Nouwen's wisdom helps us to evaluate the way in which we engage our leadership responsibilities and perceive subtle temptations and obstacles that prevent us from growing. He then offers Biblical insight into ways that we can find spiritual life in our ministry, allowing us (and those we serve) to As usual, Nouwen is concise and brief yet ever-profound, filling his deceptively short chapters with insight that are worth continual thought and reflection long after the book is closed. In this book, Nouwen's wisdom helps us to evaluate the way in which we engage our leadership responsibilities and perceive subtle temptations and obstacles that prevent us from growing. He then offers Biblical insight into ways that we can find spiritual life in our ministry, allowing us (and those we serve) to grow. This book is essential for anyone who is serving or leading in ministry, and it is helpful for anyone who truly wants to follow Christ and love others.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Loved it as a succinct and true treatise on Christian Leadership. A whole bunch of books have been written about "servant leadership," and many of them have been given to me over the years. Now I know where the other books were drawing inspiration. This one doesn't say too much or too little, and the incorporation of Nouwen's personal stories make it authentic and memorable. Loved it as a succinct and true treatise on Christian Leadership. A whole bunch of books have been written about "servant leadership," and many of them have been given to me over the years. Now I know where the other books were drawing inspiration. This one doesn't say too much or too little, and the incorporation of Nouwen's personal stories make it authentic and memorable.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Julia Smith-brake

    A wonderful short book that is so inspiring, as Nouwen always is. The essence of the book is summed up in one sentence, “I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self.” (p. 17)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tanner Hawk

    Update: April 11, 2019 After reading this book for the third time I had to bump my rating from four stars to five. This book always gets me where I need to be got. Reading it is like a drinking deep from a cup of crisp, cool water. ------------ August 11, 2018 Nouwen is the man. Super helpful book for anyone in any form of Christian leadership.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mike Jorgensen

    I read this for a course and admittedly against my will. It starts off a little slow, but there were multiple points throughout the book where I had to stop and admire his ability to articulate things I've always thought, point out things I'd never see, and challenge me in ways I hadn't expected. I read this for a course and admittedly against my will. It starts off a little slow, but there were multiple points throughout the book where I had to stop and admire his ability to articulate things I've always thought, point out things I'd never see, and challenge me in ways I hadn't expected.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Suesue

    Life changing, the most influential book (outside the Bible) I have ever read and may ever read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Linda Parker

    Appreciated his reflections and notes on servant leadership

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dan Wolgemuth

    Timeless and rich. Nouwen moves beautifully through the chaos of leadership into the focused simplicity of leading like Christ.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Neil R. Coulter

    After reading Henri Nouwen's The Way of the Heart recently during some times of fasting, I decided to move on to another book by Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus. I liked it perhaps even more than The Way of the Heart. The book is a version of an address Nouwen gave to an event in Washington, D.C., sometime in the 1980s. It's written specifically to Christian leaders, but the content is relevant to any Christian. Nouwen gazes into the future and imagines what will be most significant for Christian le After reading Henri Nouwen's The Way of the Heart recently during some times of fasting, I decided to move on to another book by Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus. I liked it perhaps even more than The Way of the Heart. The book is a version of an address Nouwen gave to an event in Washington, D.C., sometime in the 1980s. It's written specifically to Christian leaders, but the content is relevant to any Christian. Nouwen gazes into the future and imagines what will be most significant for Christian leaders in the 21st century. In answer, he contemplates three shifts in focus for Christ-centered leadership: from relevance to prayer; from popularity to ministry; and from leading to being led. Along the way, Nouwen considers his own life, and especially the big change from teaching at Harvard to caring for the mentally ill at L'Arche. He also wrestles with simply getting older, and wondering if he has become the person he thinks he should be:After twenty-five years of priesthood, I found myself praying poorly, living somewhat isolated from other people, and very much preoccupied with burning issues. Everyone was saying that I was doing really well, but something inside was telling me that my success was putting my own soul in danger. . . . In the midst of this I kept praying, "Lord, show me where you want me to go and I will follow you, but please be clear and unambiguous about it!" (20, 22)Any book that opens with something like that is going to make me take notice, since that's basically how I feel these days myself. In the first section, "From Relevance to Prayer," Nouwen expresses his frustration that seeing the needs of the world is never enough. Of course there are people who need to be fed, but it's not possible for me to do it all! He relates this to the devil's temptation of Jesus to turn stones to bread. Our temptation is to do market research to identify exactly what people need, and then make it happen—thus making ourselves, our ministry, "relevant" by meeting people exactly where they are. Nouwen proposes instead that Jesus's first question was not "Have you solved all the world's problems today?" but "Do you love me?" Our goal, then, isn't figuring everything out and fixing it, but seeking "union with God in prayer" (the original meaning of the word "theology"). The challenge for Christians is to reaffirm through contemplative prayer, again and again, the answer to Jesus's question: Yes, Lord, I love you. We move ourselves away from dogmatic, political, us-vs.-them rhetoric, and toward simple love and devotion and real conversation—as Nouwen says, "a movement from the moral to the mystical" (47). Writing about "From Popularity to Ministry," Nouwen looks at the second temptation of Jesus, to throw himself down from the top of the temple and be rescued by angels. For Christians today, that is the temptation to be spectacular, to be a superstar. This isolates us, removing us from situations in which we might satisfy our ever-present need to share confession and forgiveness with others. It's true that Jesus then told Peter to "Feed my lambs"—but he sent the disciples out in pairs, not alone. The final section of the book, "From Leading to Being Led," is about giving up control. Nouwen says he became "aware of the extent to which my leadership was still a desire to control complex situations, confused emotions, and anxious minds" (74). He continues,One of the greatest ironies of the history of Christianity is that its leaders constantly gave in to the temptation of power—political power, military power, economic power, or moral and spiritual power—even though they continued to speak in the name of Jesus, who did not cling to his divine power but emptied himself and became as we are. . . . Every time we see a major crisis in the history of the church . . . we always see that a major cause of rupture is the power exercised by those who claim to be followers of the poor and powerless Jesus. (76-77)The answer is leadership guided more by theological reflection than by psychology. "Theological reflection is reflecting on the painful and joyful realities of every day with the mind of Jesus and thereby raising human consciousness to the knowledge of God's gentle guidance" (88). This is a wonderful book, which I'm sure I'll return to, and hopeful that I will incorporate into my actual life. I need it. I respect Nouwen a lot. There aren't many people in the world I respect so highly, and most of them, like Nouwen, are dead. Which would be even more disappointing if some of those people hadn't left traces of their thoughts through words on the page. I'm grateful for those pages and those thoughts.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    Another absolute gem! I’m on a roll at the moment. This book is really short, only 80 pages, but so full of wisdom. I didn’t know anything about Henri Nouwen until I saw this book recommendation, but his story of being called to leave a highly acclaimed academic career to live with and pastor those with disabilities in the L’Arche Daybreak Community, Canada is utterly compelling and humbling. He introduces us to a number of his friends from the community through anecdotes and a framing device for Another absolute gem! I’m on a roll at the moment. This book is really short, only 80 pages, but so full of wisdom. I didn’t know anything about Henri Nouwen until I saw this book recommendation, but his story of being called to leave a highly acclaimed academic career to live with and pastor those with disabilities in the L’Arche Daybreak Community, Canada is utterly compelling and humbling. He introduces us to a number of his friends from the community through anecdotes and a framing device for the book and his main point is that they taught him more about leadership than any academic institution ever did. In the book, he focusses on three main temptations in Christian leadership: - to be relevant - to be spectacular - to be powerful Using Jesus’ temptations in the desert as his text and Jesus’ responses to Peter in John 21, he offers suggestions on how to combat these temptations and shows what the character of a Christian leader should actually look like. Absolutely loved it!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    Read this for the first time several years ago and told myself I needed to read this once a year. Sadly, the follow through wasn’t exactly there, and I never read it again until now, and WOW! I am reminded why I thought this book so necessary. To be a leader in apprenticeship to Jesus is no easy task, and the call to a downward servant-leadership is not for the faint of heart. In this book, Nouwen reminds me that there is hope for even a prideful, popularity-driven, control freak like me. Nouwen Read this for the first time several years ago and told myself I needed to read this once a year. Sadly, the follow through wasn’t exactly there, and I never read it again until now, and WOW! I am reminded why I thought this book so necessary. To be a leader in apprenticeship to Jesus is no easy task, and the call to a downward servant-leadership is not for the faint of heart. In this book, Nouwen reminds me that there is hope for even a prideful, popularity-driven, control freak like me. Nouwen uses the story of Jesus asking Peter to feed his sheep to offer incite on what a servant leader looks, thinks, and acts like and then gives practical advice in how begin the downward journey. This book is easily read in a single afternoon but if put into practice could reap the rewards of eternity ♥️

  30. 4 out of 5

    Evan Hoekzema

    One of the best, most insightful and refreshing books you can read. It is short in length but will get your heart and head reflecting on leadership, ministry and life. Nouwen speaks from a place of humility and love, this is a must read!

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