Rev. Dr. Kristin Johnston Largen is President of The Wartburg Lutheran Theological Seminary. The seminary is located in Dubuque, Iowa. She writes a blog entitled, The Happy Lutheran. Last year, she wrote an article about Henri Nouwen’s 1992 book In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership.
Largen writes that, “Nouwen’s insights were sparked by his move from Harvard to L’Arche, an intentional living community of people with disabilities and people without. In short, a more dramatic change in context would be hard to imagine.
From his experience at the L’Arche community, Nouwen comes to a new understanding of what it means to be a leader, and the book is structured around three movements: from the desire for relevance to a life of prayer; from a desire for popularity to collaborative ministry; and from leading to be led. In each one of these sections, he outlines first the temptation, and then the corrective spiritual discipline. (He notes that he is guided by the story of Jesus’ temptation in the desert, and the story of Peter’s call to be a shepherd).”
In each case, where – or better yet, on whom – a person is focused is the key to move to a deeper, more virtuous, selfless leadership style. Naturally the focus needs to be on Christ. It reflects a prayer that is found in Nouwen’s other book, A Cry for Mercy: Prayers from the Genesee written in 2002. This book reflects the experiences of his two visits to Genesee Abbey. It’s a prayer that could be relevant to any of us, whether in a leadership position or not.
A Prayer to Christ
Dear Lord, help me keep my eyes on you.
You are the incarnation of Divine Love, you are the expression of God’s infinite compassion,
You are the visible manifestation of the Father’s holiness.
You are beauty, goodness, gentleness, forgiveness and mercy.
In you all can be found. Outside of you nothing can be found.
Why should I look elsewhere or go elsewhere?
You have the words of eternal life,
you are food and drink, you are the Way, the Truth and the Life.
You are the light that shines in the darkness,
the lamp on the lampstand, the house on the hilltop.
You are the perfect Icon of God.
In and through you I can see and find my way to the Heavenly Father.
Oh Holy One, Beautiful One, Glorious One,
be my Lord, my Savior, my Redeemer, my Guide, my Consoler,
my Comforter, my Hope, my Joy, and my Peace.
To you I want to give all that I am.
Let me be generous, not stingy or hesitant.
Let me give you all –all I have, think, do, and feel.
It is yours, O Lord.
Please accept it and make it fully your own. Amen.
Blessings and peace to you as we journey together in Encountering Christ in Word, Liturgy, Charity, and Community.
A Saint Monica Sojourner