Saturday, March 12, 2005

The Heart of a Leader

I've been reading Henri Nouwen's In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership, a small, heart-warming, wisdom-packed book on the meaning of Christian leadership. In it, I found this quote:

"It is not enough for priests and ministers of the future to be moral people, well trained, eager to help their fellow humans, and able to respond creatively to the burning issues of their time. All of that is very valuable and important, but it is not the heart of Christian leadership. The central question is, Are the leaders of the future truly men and women of God, people with an ardent desire to dwell in God's presence, to listen to God's voice, to look at God's beauty, to touch God's incarnate Word, and to taste fully God's infinite goodness?" (emphasis added)

He then explains that the original use of the word "theology" (we often view theological grounding as an important qualification in contemporary leaders ) meant "union with God through prayer." Wow! How differently we view our academic version of theology today!

His point is this: Christian leaders, first and foremost, must be lovers of God; they must be men and women who know God intimately (not just know about Him).

I have to ask myself: do I desire to dwell in God's presence, to hear and listen to God's voice, to gaze upon His beauty, to touch and taste His character and Word? If I can't answer "yes" to these questions, then out of what motives am I truly leading: Self-sufficiency? A desire to please or impress other? A desire to prove myself? A deluded works-based effort to earn God's favor?

Authentic Christian leadership, true biblical leadership, flows from intimacy with and love for the Source of all life, strength, wisdom, and power. It finds its origins in grace and gratitude. If it doesn't, then that leadership differs little from the world's.

Let's do a heart check this weekend. How's our love for God? How well do we fit Nouwen's description of a leader in the second paragraph above? Just how rooted in grace and gratitude are we?

May God give us grace to love Him and to serve Him out of that love. May He equip us to do so.

That's it for now,

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