Beginning the Work Again :: Henri Nouwen Is My Teacher


One of my dearest teachers in ministry.

I’m planning to write a post next week about the things I’m noticing are different about this current formation process compared to the first time I experienced intentional formation. But one thing I’ll mention right now is this:

I’m so aware of how the things I’m learning right now impact my life of ministry — right here, with you.

As you know, I’m relearning my not-God-ness and am embracing my humanity in this place. And as I work through these relearnings right now, I keep being reminded of Henri Nouwen. Specifically, I keep thinking of one of his books that I read last year and which is one of my dearest teachers in ministry. 

It’s called In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership and is classic Henri Nouwen: steeped in vulnerability and authenticity and always pointing toward a real encounter with the real Christ. Through this book, he has taught me so much about the kind of pastoral calling I need to embody: one that is willing to be vulnerable and merely human before you. As I mentioned yesterday, it’s not about pointing you toward me but rather — always — toward Christ. 

Here’s a taste of what he teaches in this book that I’m revisiting right now and seeking to remember these days: 

“The leaders of the future will be those who dare to claim their irrelevance in the contemporary world as a divine vocation that allows them to enter into a deep solidarity with the anguish underlying all the glitter of success, and to bring the light of Jesus there. …

   “Laying down your life means making your own faith and doubt, hope and despair, joy and sadness, courage and fear available to others as ways of getting in touch with the Lord of life. 

   “We are not the healers, we are not the reconcilers, we are not the givers of life. We are sinful, broken, vulnerable people who need as much care as anyone we care for.”

—p. 35, 61-62

May I be this kind of person here.