In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership
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In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership

4.33 of 5 stars 4.33  ·  rating details  ·  3,906 ratings  ·  206 reviews
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, Fathe...more
Paperback, 120 pages
Published October 1st 1992 by The Crossroad Publishing Company (first published 1989)
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Pablo Palet Araneda
Ante las tres tentaciones de sentirse importante, ser espectacular y tener poder, Jesús pregunta "¿me amas?", entrega la tarea de "apacentar las ovejas", y el desafío de que "otro te conducirá. Sólo la práctica de la oración contemplativa, la confesión y el perdón, y la reflexión teológica hacen creíble al lider cristiano del siglo XXI.

Me llamó la atención sobretodo el entender el liderazgo no como el pastor que guía las ovejas, sino como el que sirve al rebaño haciéndose parte de él, vulnerable...more
Mark Stevens
The single greatest book on leadership I have ever read!
Christopher M.
I really did enjoy this book, and I believe some of the insights were real jewels. However, I had little to no background on Nouwen before reading this book. For that reason, I was a little fuzzy on what he meant in some of his terminology. I was also left a little unsure why the exhortations were directed specifically at Christian leaders, unless by "leadership" he means something much more broad than I do. Most of his (generally very biblical) insights could be applied to any disciple of Chris...more
Jim B
This is just a brief (one hour) reflection written because Nouwen was asked to speak about Christian leadership "in the Twenty-First Century."

It's a puzzling assignment given to a priest who lived in a community of people with disabilities for the last decade of his life (he got the assignment about year 3 of that decade).

I related to the author because the book is about caring for people over other agendas, and it is focused on Jesus, using the two stories of the temptation of Christ and Jesus...more
I heard about this book in a sermon, so I thought I’d read it. It’s a very short book, and is essentially the text of a speech that Henri Nouwen gave. He recounts his transition to a home for mentally handicapped individuals from a life of academia and lecturing, and the struggles he had as he made that transition.
“Too often I looked at being relevant, popular, and powerful as ingredients of an effective ministry. The truth, however, is that these are not vocations, but temptations.” (71) Nouwen...more

In the Name of Jesus is very different most of the books about Christian leadership that are popular right now. In many ways it's actually probably the opposite of them. In the Name of Jesus explores the three temptations that Jesus faced when he was tempted by the Devil in the wilderness: to be relevant, to be spectacular, and to be powerful. The interesting thing is that these three temptations that Jesus avoided have become the model for “good” ministry in many contexts. In conjunction w...more
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.
usually when authors say things like, "there's two kinds of people in this world," or "this is a battle of two opposites," they're saying everything and nothing at the same time. not so with this book: nouwen has some sincere struggles that he's identified and lights the path towards christ-likeness. a quick but profound read with lessons that will stay with you.
This is one of those deceptively thin volumes which is surprisingly dense and rich. Nouwen addresses himself to the question: How do we lead? This is not a nut-and-bolts "how to" manual, but more of a theological manifesto aimed at directing the reader away from the dead ends, excesses, and common traps which confront anyone in the position of leading a ministry. Taking as his central image that of an open-handed leader who is willing to be led into "downward mobility," he urges the reader towar...more
This is definitely the best book on Christian leadership that I've yet read. To be fair and honest up front: usually I dislike all books on leadership but even more so those about Christian leadership. The fact that I not only didn't despise this book, but I actually really loved it should say something about how different it is than most books on the same topic.

This is what made it different: it focused on Jesus and the Gospel. What else could make leadership distinctive in a Christian context...more
The central question facing Christian leaders today, I think, is: Are we going to be led? Nouwen rightly points out that the cure to the temptation to relevance is mysticism. The Christian leader must be a mystic rooted in the reality of the living Christ to navigate the waters infested with sharks of ego, power, efficiency and world-success.

The central question for me as I face leadership in the coming future is how can I lead people into a desire for the mystic reality of Christ in the intimac...more
Seth Comfort
I read the book In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen. I really enjoyed this book, it was a short and quick read but full of wisdom regarding Christian leadership.
He starts off the book by unpacking a big change in his own life. After 20 years in the academic world as a teacher of pastoral psychology, theology and Christian spirituality, he began to experience deep inner longer for a change. He explains that he was living in a very dark place feeling burned out, a convenient psychological transl...more
Jeff Elliott
I read this book in about 40 minutes. I have heard often about Nouwen's writings. This is the first I have read. There is some deep truth in the pages which I wish he could have developed more. Several of the truths I have already learned and agree with. I would have like to have a little more application for some of them.

Favorite quotes from this book:
I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to o...more
Jul 25, 2011 Nathan added it
This book was a good reminder of humility ("unadorned self," as Nouwen says) for ministry workers. I imagine I'll need to return to its themes many times over the years.

Nouwen highlights his main points in the chapter titles. Three temptations: to be relevant, to be spectacular, and to be powerful. Three corresponding disciplines: contemplative prayer, confession/forgiveness, and theological reflection.

I found myself often thinking, "Hmm, I needed to hear that." Challenging. A cause for reflecti...more
“In the Name of Jesus” by Henri J.M. Nouwen
This book is one I will definitely continually refer to as I continue in ministry. I hope I never forget to be irrelevant and deep in contemplative prayer, not popular or spectacular but quick to confession and forgiveness, and to fight against the temptation of being powerful and to follow anywhere Jesus leads with my mind set on his ways at all times.
The first part deals with relevance and being truly in love with Jesus. The temptation of being rel...more
Henri Nouwen learned much from members of L'Arche, a community of severely disabled people in Canada. In this book he suggests, out of his own experience of life at L'Arche, a radically counter-cultural tactic: that to be like Jesus one must give one's power away, divest oneself of human privilege and status, and practice the downward mobility of Christ. His illustrations are moving and powerful, showing how his own attitudes and actions were changed as he put this living philosophy into action....more
This is an enjoyable and short book. Nouwen uses his experience going from a prestigious job ministering at Harvard to working among mentally handicapped people to teach us what he has learned about dealing with the temptations Christian leaders face. He takes the three temptations of Jesus in the desert and uses them to frame the discussion, recommending a discipline for each temptation. The main chapters are, "From Relevance to Prayer," "From Popularity to Ministry," and "From Leading to Being...more
This is a short volume about Nouwen's shift of gears from the theologically impressive world of Harvard and Yale to living full time with the mentally handicapped. He said that he was starting to feel spiritually dead, or burnt out in our culture's terms, and so he "went where he did not want to go" like Jesus tells Peter in the gospel of John. Points that spoke to me:
--We all have the temptation to be relevant to the people we lead or wish to influence for the Lord, as in what can we offer to t...more
In the Name of Jesus is a short reflection on Christian leadership. Nouwen uses his experience transitioning from Harvard University as an esteemed professor to a member of L'Arche Community for the Disabled as reflection on Jesus' model of leadership. He also uses two different stories from the gospels (Matthew 4:11 and John 21:15-19). This is simple but profound; you could read it in one sitting, but it would feel like wolfing down a banquet.
This simple, little book is full of wisdom. Not wisdom like a list of catchy proverbs, but wisdom that comes from authentic and honest love. Not dreamy, whimsical love, but the love of the cross that calls us into mutual relationship with each other. Love that sees everything, warts and all, and continues loving anyway. This is written about Christian leadership, but when you consider that all Christians meet at the same place as beloved children of God, anyone could read, learn, and grow from t...more
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...more
Ken Furches
Nouwen offers a refreshing and challenging view of the leadership that Jesus modeled. This is the antithesis to 90% of leadership material that is being published today. I would highly recommend this book to pastors particularly and ministry leaders of all types. Nouwen draws from his own descent into servant leadership which serves as a illustrative narrative for the premise of the book. Short, devotional read that presses against the soul and annoys to conscience in a good way.
Eric Chappell
Extraordinary. A definite re-read. Perhaps once a year.

Nouwen reflects on the temptations of Christ in the desert and Peter's call to be a shepherd in these three wonderful lectures on pastoral ministry.

Relevance, popularity, and power are not the vocation of ministry, they are the temptations of ministry. Jesus asks, Do you love me? Then He sends us out to be shepherds and promises a life in which we increasingly stretch out our hands and be led to places we don't want to go. Move from a conce...more
Mike E.
The way up is the way down. Christians are called to serve. If you are a Christian--especially in a leadership position--you should read this short book. It can be read in one setting--and perhaps should be.

"Jesus had a different vision of maturity: It is the ability and willingness to be led where you would rather not go. Immediately after Peter has been commissioned to be a leader of his sheep, Jesus confronts him with the hard truth that the servant-leader is the leader who is being led to th...more
Connor Searle
Excellent reflection on servant-leadership; we must come to a point where everything we think makes us "valuable" or "relevant" is stripped away, and we have nothing to offer but our selves in our own grace-filled brokenness. Only then can we truly learn to give and receive unconditional love.
Amethyst Roth
What makes the temptation of power so seemingly irresistible? Maybe it is that power offers an easy alternative for the hard task of love. It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life. -Henri Nouwen
I read this book again over vacation. What a reminder to not pursue popularity, or being spectacular, or powerful as a minister.

June, 2010: Here I am again, on study leave, gaining so much from this book. One of my latest take-aways from ITNOJ is Nouwen's explanation of Jesus' question of Peter, "Do you love me?" To love God is to know God. To know the heart of Jesus is to know the heart. The 2nd Love (love of humans for humans) is but a broken reflection of the 1st Love (the unconditional love...more

Nouwen brings up the concept of being "irrelevant" in leadership in this work. That was the biggest takeaway for me.
I thought the concept was not presented in the most compelling manner though. Nouwen avoids too many hard biblical proofs and never mentions sin as a possible cause of ineffective leadership.
Overall, it's an enjoyable read lacking in too much "hard" substance. Whenever you discuss meditation and mystic practices outside of the biblical definitions you tread in dangerous territory...more
John Kaess
This is one of the books i try to read every year. I just finished it again and it's still worth reading every year. The message is intended for Christian leaders, but the ideas are of value to all Christ followers.
Eric North
This collection of thoughts and reflections on Christian leadership by Henri Nouwen has reshaped many of my views of what a leader should look like. Nouwen tells his own story of being called by God out of his prominent position at Harvard to work at a center for the mentally handicapped, and how the Lord reshaped his ideas of leadership in that place. The temptation to be relevant, powerful, and popular dominate the minds of many Christian leaders and often end up destroying them or stifling th...more
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Henri Jozef Machiel Nouwen (Nouen), (1932–1996) was a Dutch-born Catholic priest and writer who authored 40 books on the spiritual life.

Nouwen's books are widely read today by Protestants and Catholics alike. The Wounded Healer, In the Name of Jesus, Clowning in Rome, The Life of the Beloved, and The Way of the Heart are just a few of the more widely recognized titles. After nearly two decades of...more
More about Henri J.M. Nouwen...
The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World The Inner Voice of Love The Way of the Heart: Desert Spirituality and Contemporary Ministry

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“The leaders of the future will be those who dare to claim their irrelevance in the contemporary world as a divine vocation...” 27 likes
“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.” 8 likes
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