This book has greatly impacted my life and ministry. I originally read and studied this book, and wrote these thoughts in 1999; and they are more clear and convicting today than ever before. Henri Nouwen’s honesty, perspective, and simplicity (“his unadorned self and truth”), have served to confront my mindsets, challenge my philosophy of ministry, and catalyze a searching of Jesus temptation story to understand and become a man of integrity, vulnerability and practicality.
By confronting the temptations and bent for Christians and leaders toward relevancy, popularity and power (pride and position), Mr. Nouwen successfully removes common deception and myopic narcissism. This allows for honest examination and openness for realignment with Christian foundational ideals and essential leadership characteristics such as: humility, honesty, loving confrontation, authentic relationships, servant leadership, confession and prayerful reflection, and devotion.
After studying this book and the temptation of Jesus in the Bible, I have realigned and refocused myself to the principles he established as foundational and primary for my leadership in the next 20 years. I must never yield to the temptations of using position, trust, or authority for my personal gain or control by seeking personal relevance, popularity or power. Instead, I must seek to grow in and understand humility, honesty, simple devotion, and hearing/learning. In doing this, one may become authentic/vulnerable and produce/receive the blessing of working relationships with God and people. The truths learned here are absolutely necessary for ministering incarnationally/meeting and connecting with people in the real world (life, issues, and circumstances). In honesty and humility, we take on His yoke and learn of Him-JESUS. Possessing His treasure and power in our earthen vessels, overcoming the urge to carnal selfishness – we may be servant leaders with outstretched hands – praying, vulnerable and trusting.