Reflection by Pastor Pete
Our Seminary Intern, Ryan VanderWees, and myself have read through a little book together called “In the Name of Jesus”, by Henri Nouwen. It is his reflections on Christian leadership. Henri Nouwen was a dutch catholic priest who died in 1996 . He went from teaching religion and philosophy at Yale and Harvard to being a chaplain at the L’Arche community in Toronto Canada. “In the Name of Jesus” is a small little 80 page book of Henri sharing his insights from his life with people with a mental handicaps. It is one of the best books on discipleship I know.
Christian leadership, he says, is one of exchanging the desire for relevance to the need for prayer. The leader who truly follows Jesus is called to stand in the world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self. In this way, God is free to move and accomplish his great purposes. This is the way Jesus came to reveal God’s love. He cites the first temptation of Jesus was a temptation to be relevant… to turn stones into bread (Matt 4:3). How I wish I could do that! I wouldn’t have been able to resist the power to snap my fingers to help alleviate malnutrition. I would not be able to reject the magical gift of purifying contaminated water with a word. I want to make peoples hurt go away.
But Nouwen reminds me that the real Christian leader is one who enters into a deep solidarity with those in anguish to bring the light of Jesus there. I am not called to fix things - I’m called to be love within a hurting world, to feed His sheep. The task of Christian leaders, he says, is to announce the ways Jesus leads his people out of slavery, through the desert, and into a land of freedom. We lead in the land between.
It’s nomination time at Westview. Some of you have been asked to consider being an elder or a deacon for a three year term. You are praying about that right now. Many of you are serving already in essential areas. I appreciate all you do. To do more is not a good idea. Others have significant family things going on that make serving right now a little more difficult and probably not wise.
But some of you are being called through this process to grow spiritually by serving the church. We need you. You have the time, the gifts, and the love for God’s kingdom to help Westview Church be all that God desires for it to be. Please don’t minimize this request which is really a call from God. If you believe in the involvement of God in your life and that he sovereignly moves all things, this is the Holy Spirit speaking to you. Westview has a clear mission. It is a church that is moving forward in obedience to God. Come and be a part of it.
Anyway, that’s how I see it.