On “effective ministry”

Henri Nouwen’s writes the following with regard to “effective ministry”:

My movement from Harvard to L’Arche made me aware in a new way how much my own thinking about Christian leadership had been affected by the desire to be relevant, the desire for popularity, and the desire for power. Too often, I looked at being relevant, popular, and powerfulful as ingredients for effective ministry.

The truth, however, is that these are not vocations but temptations. Jesus asks, “Do you love me?”. Jesus sends us out as shepherds, and Jesus promises a life in which we increasingly have to stretch out our hands and be led to places where we would rather not go. He asks us to move from a concern for relevance to a life of prayer, from worries about popularity to community and mutual ministry, and from a leadership built on power to a leadership in which we critically discern where God is leading us and our people (91-92).

From In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership, Crossroad Publishing, 1989.

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