in a new way how much of my own thinking about Christian
leadership had been affected by the desire to be relevant,
the desire for popularity, and the desire for power.
Too often I looked at being relevant, popular, and powerful
as ingredients of an effective ministry. The truth, however, is
that these are not vocations but temptations.
Jesus asks me, "Do you love me?" Jesus sends us out to be
shepherds, and Jesus promises a life in which we increasingly
have to stretch out our hands and be led to places where we
would rather not go.
He asks us to move from a concern for relevance to a life
of prayer, from worries about popularity to communal
and mutual ministry, and from a leadership built on
power to a leadership in which we critically discern
where God is leading us and people.
The people of L'Arche are showing me new ways.
I am a slow learner. Old patterns that have proved
quite effective are not easy to give up.
But as I think about the Christian leader for the next century,
I do believe that those from whom I least expected to learn
are showing me the way. I hope and pray that what I am
learning in my new life is something that is not just good for me
to learn, but something that helps you as well, to catch a
glimpse of the Christian leader of the future.
What I have said is, obviously, nothing new, but I hope and pray that
you have seen that the oldest, most traditional vision of Christian
leadership is still a vision that awaits realization in the future.
I leave you with the image of the leader with outstretched hands,
who chooses a life of downward mobility. It is an image of
the praying leader, the vulnerable leader, and the trusting leader.
May that image fill your hearts with hope, courage, and
confidence as you anticipate the next century.
May we all learn from Nouwen's words ... and from Ted Haggard's choices. We are feeble, weak, stumbling people. Every last one of us. And without a keen, God-Light-discerned witness to this reality that is discovered and lived out in the twin realms of community and accountability, any desire to stay in step with Jesus Christ will be short-lived at best. Godspeed.