Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Second Temptation

Nouwen describes the second temptation that leaders face as the temptation to be popular. This parallels Jesus' temptation to throw himself from the roof of the temple, and is not necessarily a desire for popularity that he is talking about, but the desire to impress, to portray ourselves in the best light, to do the spectacular, to earn applause.

This often translates into an indiviualistic or egocentric mindset where decisions and actions are viewed through a lense colored by how this will impact me or perceptions of me. This self-focus is a barrier to community, and very often results in a leadership style that is based on power rather than servanthood.

Overcoming this temptation requires openness, vulnerability; a brokenness that we are willing to expose to others rather than hide. Nouwen says that the keys to developing these traits are confession and forgiveness. We develop a culture where confession is rewarded with forgiveness, gentleness, and grace rather than rebuke and punishment. We confess our own brokenness and begin to experience the healing, reconciling presence of Jesus.

As we lead from our weakness rather than our own strength we make it safe for the ones we are charged to lead to be vulnerable as well. Vulnerability, confession, and forgiveness lead to the kind of community where we can truly serve and build one another up - the kind of community that announces that the kingdom is among us.

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