Thursday, September 30, 2004

leading from beside

I've been reading The Wounded Prophet by Henri Nouwen. It's remarkable, actually, how contemporary the book feels, though it was written before I was even born! I thought post-modernism was a 90's thing, but he's already talking about it in 1970. Nouwen so perceptively analyses the culture around him and forcasts the future of Christian leadership. In effect, he says, "Change, or your ministry will be worthless to this generation!" He describes a generation of youth who are no longer enamored with their fathers and trying to please those in authority. Instead, they seek spirituality inwardly and acceptance from their peers. Ministers of the gospel must be unafraid to venture into the depth of their own soul so that they can ably lead others to wholeness in a fragmented world. Leaders who fear what is inside them will be unable to speak deeply to this generation, he says. Rather than speaking as a father, from "above" your listeners, you must be beside them in the fray of life.

Lord, give me courage to see myself as I really am, and to bring everything I find to You. Remind me that nothing is beyond your ability to redeem. Make me the kind of person who can walk beside the hurting and the questioning and be truly present to them in their struggle. I depend on You for living water to fill my own thirsty soul, enough to spill over into the lives of those you've gathered around me.