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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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About the Author


I'm married (35 years in December 2008) with four grown sons. I love my city (Winnipeg) and my country (Canada) and promote them both to whoever will listen. God (through Jesus Christ) is the biggest part of my life. I am learning to let him take control of all areas--though I do better at this some times more than others.

I have written a book that's recently been published about part of my journey with God. In it I tell how God confronted me with the same-sex attraction issues I've struggled with all my adult life and how he led me through them to a deeper and more meaningful relationship with him. God is amazing—his forgiveness, his love, his movement in our lives when we allow him and so much more. I suspect God will never run out of things to teach me or ways to make me grow and that’s a good thing (though often very painful).

I suppose I can say that what gives me the greatest pleasure in life is telling others about…

Memories of Mikael Vincent Tien Doe Chan

Reviews of Searching for Love

If you have read the book, I would love to hear your thoughts on it. You may e-mail me at or post them in the comments section below.

A Real Testimony
I finished your book. A real testimony to what God does for us.
Leona March 3, 2009
I Had Tears Coming

I sat down to read it about a week later and ended up finishing it the same night. At first I admit I was a little bored and thought that the whole book was about a battle all in your mind, but as I continued reading this creeping thought came over me of a different...struggle in my own life, that I would never in my right mind have shared with anyone accept maybe God. I've mentioned your book to a few people because it stirs up age-old controversies that I have myself argued and wondered about, namely about whether or not homosexuality can be cured or just managed like alcoholism--you just have to stay away from temptation. I noticed at the end of your book that your struggle story …