The Irrelevance of Christian Leaders

It is not possible, I think, to reread Henri Nouwen’s In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership too many times. The book is indispensable for Christians who find themselves in positions of leadership. My feeling is Nouwen’s reflections are equally valuable for those Christians under the leadership of others. For two reasons: first, some people not now in leadership positions aspire to be leaders and this book will help them discover what it is they aspiring to, and second, those who are not leaders should learn to discern what good Christian leadership is. Every time a “relevant” Christian leader falls from celebrity status in our culture of success, the pages of Nouwen’s short book surely must rustle.

While efficiency and control are the great aspirations of our society, the loneliness, isolation, lack of friendship and intimacy, broken relationships, boredom, feelings of emptiness and depression, and a deep sense of uselessness fill the hearts of millions of people in our success-oriented world…

It is here that the need for a new Christian leadership becomes clear. The leader of the future will be the one who dares to claim his irrelevance in the contemporary world as a divine vocation that allows him or her to enter into a deep solidarity with the anguish underlying all the glitter of success and to bring the light of Jesus there.