Friday, November 2, 2007

Nouwen -- Part 8

Becoming a true follower of Jesus and a leader within the Body requires discipline. We cannot expect to continue on the way that we have before and achieve successful results. In the next chapter of "In the Name of Jesus", Nouwen talks about the discipline of confession and forgiveness. Here are some of his thoughts.
  • what discipline is required for the future leader to overcome the temptation of individual heroism? I propose the discipline of confession and forgiveness.
  • they must be persons always willing to confess their own brokenness and ask for forgiveness from those to whom they minister
  • I have the impression that priests and ministers are the least confessing people in the Christina community
  • How can priests or ministers feel really loved and cared for when they have to hide their own sins and failings from the people to whom they minister and run off to a distant stranger to receive a little comfort and consolation?
  • How can people truly care for their shepherds and keep them faithful to their sacred task when they do not know them and so cannot deeply love them?
  • the men and women who are dedicated to spiritual leadership who are easily subject to very raw carnality. The reason for this is that they do not know how to live the truth of the Incarnation.
  • when spirituality becomes spiritualization, life in the body becomes carnality
  • 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.
  • all of this does not mean that ministers or priests must, explicitly, bring their own sins or failures into their daily ministries
  • what it means is that ministers and priests are also called to be full members of their communities.

What a drastic change from what we have come to expect from leaders. We have the impression that the leader is somehow separate and above those that they lead; rather than someone travelling the journey along with those they lead. This is not now Jesus did it. He walked and lived a real life in front of and with his followers. A leader who takes this approach will often be isolated and often becomes an easy mark for the enemy. No wonder there are such tragic tales of massive failure in the leadership of the Church. The fact that leaders might be the least confessed people is due to an arrogance that we are somehow above the need to share or confess. Sometimes it comes from fear that we will be stricken down by those around us if they find out that we are not perfect. In fact I believe that we would find true brotherhood and community if we pushed through that wall. That is what the enemy fears; the body of Christ functioning properly and working in the Kingdom in unison.

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