In the Name of Jesus is a story that provides information regarding Christianity and leadership. The objective of the author is to provide information on the manner in which leaders should behave. The content in this book is basically dedicated to the clergy but is also an informative book as regards those Christians who are in leadership positions. In the book, Nouwen examines three temptations that Jesus faced before the beginning of his ministry and compares those temptations with the temptations that leaders face in contemporary societies. Nouwen then looks at the challenge that Jesus provided to Peter after the resurrection in a bid to illustrate the way a leader is expected to behave and provides spiritual discipline that is expected to help leaders take care of every temptation.
Nouwen accomplishes his objective to communicate to the people in full-time ministry by discussing three temptations that Jesus faced namely: the turning of stones into bread after fasting for forty (40) days, Jesus throwing himself from the top of the temple in order to be saved by the angels, and to get hold of the power over the world.
With regard to the turning stones into bread after fasting for forty days, Nouwen equates this temptation with the leaders’ temptation to become and remain relevant. He states that, “the leader of the future will be one who dares to claim his irrelevance in the contemporary world” (Nouwen 22). Most leaders seek to have people take notice and often assist people in order to make them not feel as if they have been marginalized. Nouwen feels that Christian leaders are capable of feeling insufficient and therefore be tempted to conduct themselves in a manner that resemble people working in other professions such as therapists or doctors who make every effort to provide solutions to problems. The author considers the interrelation between Jesus and Peter in the book of John 21 to provide a different view to being relevant. This is in relation to the conversation where Jesus asks Peter whether he (Peter) loves him. According to Nouwen, if a leader truthfully loves Jesus then questions relating to relevance do not arise as such leader would do what Jesus requests because the leader would know his heart. To Nouwen, the only way to accomplish this is by engaging in reflective prayer.
The second temptation that Nouwen considers in the book is when Jesus was to throw himself from the uppermost part of the temple in order to be saved by the angels. Nouwen interprets this temptation as the urge to become popular. Drawing from his own life experiences, Nouwen provides the variance between being popular and respectable teacher to living within a community that has handicapped people where aspects of individualism and qualifications face various challenges. According to the author, the conversation between Jesus and Peter where Jesus says to Peter ‘feed my sheep’ is reflective of ministry in a community. As such, Nouwen is of the opinion that leaders should remain in their societies communally serving their communities and should therefore be known by the people that they (leaders) serve. According to the book, the aspect of confession and forgiveness is the way to achieve the mutual service. To Nouwen, leaders often do not have an opportunity for confession hence they should strive this from within their communities.
The third temptation that is considered in the book is the Jesus’s seizure of power over the world. According to Nouwen, the fascination of power is strong and in many instances, leaders strive to establish empires instead to working towards loving and being of services to others and ceding control. The challenge that Jesus poses to Peter is that sooner or later someone would take him (Peter) and lead him where he does not want to go. This according to Nouwen reflects the fact that Peter would serve the lord by ceding control. To this, Nouwen opines that in order to overcome the temptation to be powerful, leaders should embrace theological reflection which basically means thinking through things in a manner that Jesus would reflect upon them. Nouwen believes that this is the only practical way that leaders would cede control and be of services to others.
In the Name of Jesus is a powerful book that contemplates the relevance of prayer, popularity of ministry, and the aspect of shifting from being a leader to being led (75). The information from the book is very powerful and provides insight to a reader to reflect upon and readjust one’s life as a Christian for the betterment of oneself and the community in general. The book particularly offers insight to people anticipating religious and other leadership positions. The author uses simple language that is easy to understand and the content of the book coupled with the sensible interpretation of the three temptations of Jesus is capable of influencing the way people perceive religious and divine undercurrents of ministry. Every person who seeks to be a Christ follower should read this book regardless of the fact that on the face of it the book seems to be focused on individuals who are in fulltime ministry. This short book is a constant reminder that Christianity is not about self-service but it is all about service to others for the glory of God.
Hernandez, Wil. In the Name of Jesus Commentary. Paulist Press, 2008. Web. 8 Dec. 2013.
Nouwen, Henry. In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership. The Crossroad
Publishing Company, 1992.