I have no doubt that many of the leadership books that pastors and Christians leaders are so strongly urged to read these days can have helpful insights from the business world, but here is a bit of a game changer or gospel paradigm shift to throw in the mix – just to help us all not to forget the gospel edge of ALL reflection we do about Christian leadership these days.
Among other great insights in this small book, Nouwen names three temptations: 1) the temptation to be relevant (countered by the discipline of contemplative prayer), 2) the temptation to be spectacular (countered by the disciple of confession and forgiveness), and 2) the temptation to be powerful (countered by the discipline of theological reflection).
Here is a great nugget from his experience with a severely handicapped community:
These broken, wounded, and completely unpretentious people forced me to let go of my relevant self – the self that can do things, show things, prove things, build things, – and forced me to reclaim that unadorned self in which I am completely vulnerable, open to receive and give love regardless of my accomplishments.
>I think we've got to be contemplative, but we've also got to be relevant. If we aren't relevent people will disregard what we say.
>Have you read the book, Jason? I haven't so I'm not sure what exactly is meant there. However, I think there's way too much insistence that WE be relevant instead of acknowledging that the only thing truly relevant is the Gospel, and we often just need to demonstrate how relevant it is.
>Jason,Gary is right about what Nouwen is getting at. He bases the three temptations on the three temptations of Jesus in the Gospel.What could be more relevant to hunger in the wilderness than turning stones into bread for nourishment?What I would add is that too much of what the church does today smacks of a desperation to "be relevant" which, ironically, betrays an often unspoken conviction that the Gospel is not really relevant – so we have to help it out. Some might argue that preachers have been working hard on this "relevance" project for 50 years, which can and has led to many inane self-help sermons peppered with stories and trite tibits/slogans gleaned from other disciplines to provide legitimacy. That may be overstating the case a bit – but the point is still well made, I think. Jesus is relevant to the lives of broken, hurting, sinful people like us – period. Our attempt to make this Jesus relevant seems like a very thinly veiled attempt to convince others of something we no longer really believe – but still want to market.(Ok – so authenticity does matter here!)