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A Leadership of Powerlessness and Humility

“Jesus has a different vision of maturity; It is the ability and willingness to be led where you would rather not go.” Think of the last time God was calling you to make a change in your life. Was it difficult to let go of your own wishes and follow God’s direction?

It is difficult to let go of my own wishes and desires to follow God’s direction—sometimes it’s more difficult than others, like leaving Pearl. But even the smaller choices can be hard: Do I come down to my prayer room today or play on the computer in the living room? Do I invite Tom to join me on a trip or to an event when I’d rather go by myself? Do I speak what my tongue is itching to say or do I keep quiet? Do I take the homeless man out for lunch when I’d rather go home and nap? Do I allow myself to be conspicuous when I’d prefer to hide?

“...maturity...the ability and willingness to be led where you’d rather not go.” How willing am I to be lead by God’s Spirit in all things. Last night I wasn’t and already I’ve paid the price.

Jesus calls for “...a leadership of powerlessness and humility in which the suffering servant of God, Jesus Christ, is made manifest. ...power is constantly abandoned in favour of love.” How can a leader be effective if she is powerless? It isn’t power that people follow, at least not willingly, but vision, hope and love. As I relinquish any power I may have in favour of loving those around me, Jesus is revealed and made known. This is the way, the truth and the life he wants us to follow. When my life reveals Christ in me, I pass the torch to the One far more qualified to lead. When I follow the Holy Spirit, I demonstrate what we are all called to do. This is leadership. It requires a humility that says, “God knows the way far better than I do.”

I think this is one reason why I like my church so much—the pastors and leaders are very quick to walk in love and slow to wield power.

God, how willing am I to yield to you, to acknowledge how powerless I am to make right choices unless I listen to you? How willing am I to pause and listen instead of bulldozing ahead in my own ways? Forgive my unwillingness last night, Father, and increase my desire to follow you even when your way seems hard, uncomfortable or painful.


In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership by Henri Nouwen. Quotes from pages 102 and 86.

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