Henri Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus; Reflections on Christian Leadership (New York: Crossroad, 1989), 81pp.
After twenty years as a professor at Notre Dame, Yale and Harvard, the Dutch Catholic priest Henri Nouwen (1932–1996) left academia to serve as a resident priest at a home for the mentally disabled called L'Arche. He wrote this tiny book (you could read it in one sitting) during that transition and explores the lessons he felt God was teaching him at that time. The book centers around the three temptations of Jesus, which Nouwen construes as the temptations to be relevant ("Turn these stones to bread."), to be spectacular ("Throw yourself from the temple."), and to be powerful ("I will give you the kingdoms of the world."). To each temptation there corresponds a spiritual discipline as a sort of antidote— contemplative prayer, confession and forgiveness, and then theological reflection. Thus the three chapters move us from relevance to prayer, from popularity to ministry, and from leading to being led. I have read a dozen or more of Nouwen's 40 books, but I have always found this one to be his most powerful one. I have read it five or six times, and am still amazed at its power to fundamentally rearrange the furniture of your Christian life.