top of page
  • Michael W. Newman

In the Name of Jesus

Huddled around an early morning breakfast at a local restaurant, three members of the congregation I served joined me in reading Henri Nouwen's In the Name of Jesus. It was a short book based on a Nouwen lecture about the most pressing needs of ministry in the 21st century. Though the text was brief, the content penetrated the hearts and shaped the souls of these new servant-leaders. One person was setting out to initiate a prayer ministry at our congregation. Two others were elders looking to enter more active teaching roles. Each was discerning what it meant to become a servant-leader of God's precious people.

The breakfast took place more than thirty years ago, but this exercise shaped my approach to ministry and discipleship for the duration of my service as a pastor. Henri Nouwen, a Dutch Roman Catholic priest, professor, and theologian, chronicled his ministry and struggles over the course of a prolific writing career. In the Name of Jesus weaves Jesus' post-resurrection dialog with Peter and the wilderness temptation into three central pathways for godly servant-leadership: Moving from relevance to prayer, from popularity to ministry, and from leading to being led.

Nouwen lifts up the way of Jesus who came not be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many. He confronts the quest for acclaim, followers, and fame with Jesus' truth that whoever exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted. Replacing power and pride, Nouwen lifts up prayer, confession and absolution, and Christlike love. He speaks counter-culturally and against the easy road of our flesh as he calls servant-leaders to life and ministry in the name of Jesus.

After re-reading the book again recently, I see that Nouwen's prophetic words are needed more than ever in our divided, argumentative, fear-filled, hopeless and hate-ridden culture and church. The key to being disciples of Jesus is not to mimic the narrative of the world or to grasp the tools of the flesh. It is to walk in the way of the cross, holding fast to the confidence that by dying to ourselves and generously sharing the love first lavished upon us, resurrection and life will result.

Shaping new disciples this way will ensure that Christ's Church is truly a city set on a hill, a light of life for all trapped in darkness. Read the book and see where it leads you. Share the book and see how it shapes new servant-leaders for Christ's Kingdom.

302 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Find information about and purchase books HERE

bottom of page