In the Name of Jesus

I’m not really about recommending “leadership” books – but if I did recommend one, it would be THIS one.  Nouwen says,

The leaders of the future will be those who dare to claim their irrelevance in the contemporary world as a divine vocation that allows them to enter into a deep solidarity with the anguish underlying all the glitter of success, and to bring the light of Jesus there.

 Speaking from the story of Satan’s temptation of Jesus’ in Matthew 4, Nouwen rejects the leadership model that says we need to be more, do more and produce more.  Instead, he is convinced that Jesus is calling the pastor and Christian leader of the future…

…to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self.

So freeing.  So empowering.  So centered in Jesus, his life and leadership and the Biblical text.  If you want a book on pastoral leadership – read this one. 

Searching For God Knows What

I feel the same way about books on evangelism.  Most are formulaic and sharing our Great Love with others ought to be anything but a formula!  But THIS book represents such a freeing view of Jesus loving each human being in a way that draws them to God!! Donald Miller says:

I kept wondering about the people who met Christ who were losers in the lifeboat, the crippled and the blind, the woman at the well, Mary Magdalene and Zacchaeus.  Entire communities had shunned them and told them they were no good, but God, the King of the universe, comes walking down the street and looks them in the eye, holds their hands, embraces them, eats at their tables, in their homes, for all the town to see.  That must have been the greatest moment in their lives.

I think this book will help free you to simply be a son or daughter that revels in the love of Jesus and gives it away to those you meet on the journey.  Even as a pastor.  Maybe especially as a pastor.

Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times: Being Calm and Courageous No Matter What
How Your Church Family Works:  Understanding Congregations as Emotional Systems

These are two of the books that I highly recommend for pastors who are trying to shepherd their communities with the love of Jesus.  Peter Steinke, a former pastor, helps us see the church systemically – and the anxiety that permeates church life on a regular basis. 

He helps us see how the pastor sets the tone for the response of the community in anxious, difficult, divisive times.  If the pastor is secure in his or her identity in Jesus, then instead of “reacting” – the pastor will lead the church with a thoughtful response to the pain in the community – a response centered in the love of Jesus.  I wish I had known about Peter Steinke 35 years ago when I started pastoring my first church!!!