Nouwen on Leadership and Theological Reflection

Without solid theological reflection, future leaders will be little more than pseudo-psychologists, pseudo-sociologist, pseudo social workers.  They will think of themselves as enablers, facilitators, role models, father or mother figures, big brothers or big sisters, and so on, and thus join the countless men and women who make a living by trying to help their fellow human beings cope with the stresses and strains of everyday living.

But that has little to do with Christian leadership because the Christian leader things, speaks, and acts in the name of Jesus, who came to free humanity form the power of death and open the way to eternal life.  To be such a leader, it is essential to be able to discern from moment to moment how God acts in human history and how the personal, communal, national and international events that occur during our lives can make us more and more sensitive to the ways in which we are led to the cross and through the cross to the resurrection.

The task of Christian leaders isn 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 the new land of Freedom.

. . .

THe Christian leaders of the future have to be theologians, 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 many seemingly random events of their time.

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 guidance.

Henri Nowen In The Name of Jesus: Reflections of Christian Leadership. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Co, 1989. pp 86-88

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