Some quick Housekeeping:
This year I won’t be posting 3-4 times per week, most of the time.
Since February 2009 I written 815 posts. I’ve put in the time. (Before that I had a Blogger blog (several actually), and a before that I had a Xanga blog (remember them?), and before that in 2004 or so, I sent weekly email articles to about 200 people, when word “blog” hadn’t made it to the vernacular. It adds up to thousands of articles.)
Plus, I’m at a season where my posts should be fewer. All this makes email delivery or a RSS feed situation optimal, because when I do post, I’ll have landed on some cool things I simply must write about. So, fill out the Feedburner button fields in the right column, and never miss a beat.
3 Rough Patches on the Way to Success (courtesy of Henri Nouwen)
As promised back in November, I’m sharing some of the gleanings from my required course work reading. The first book is a short, sweet work chock-a-blocked with wisdom by the beloved Henri Nouwen.
In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership (Click title for book info. Bonus: It costs just a few bucks. ) In this book Nouwen makes short work tackling common 3 pitfalls we routinely encounter.
The title is a misappropriation because his advice is so helpful for anyone “on a quest” or trying to make their way. Be it an artist, blogger, writer, or just about anyone following a dream will encounter the very same issues Nouwen covers as he targets “leaders”.
He uses his own life and success in academics and leadership as the impetus and a background of practical knowledge and captures crucial insights on the things that most often beset us.
Nouwen was a revered scholar and professor at Yale, Harvard and other impressive-sounding places. Though everyone was telling Nouwen he was doing well, he noticed something deep down. Something just wasn’t right. Then, he realized his success was actually putting his own soul in danger.
“I was living in a very dark place and the term “burnout” was a convenient psychological translation for a spiritual death.”
I’ve been there! Have you?
He came to a point of spiritual dryness and removed himself from the life he knew as a talented academic and choose instead to live with, care for, and minister to the severely mentally disabled. He covers this quite briefly in the book. (In other books he mentions just how nuts people thought he was for the decision.)
What came from that choice is arguably his most memorable and lasting work. A host of profound and transformative pieces. To many some are bona fide Christian Devotional Classics.
To handle the topic of Christian Leadership (which I’ve mentioned may be cast more widely for many of us as success), Nouwen describes the particulars of Jesus as he was tempted in the desert. The lures and trappings of leadership (read: success) typical in this world are cast in sharp relief with the divine call of Christlikeness in one’s life.
It is a striking model for Christians to follow. Jesus was tempted to abandon his Kingdom mission in favor of acquiescing to the temptations offered up by Satan who promised success in the course and manner of this world.
Nouwen also riffs off intimate conversations Jesus has with Peter. They involve calling, leadership, vocation, and Jesus-style success. The heart of these exchanges give us insights to our own path to success and finding our purpose or way in the world.
The three temptations are labeled by Nouwen as the lures to be relevant (necessary, a cure for the world), spectacular (popular, skilled, apt), and powerful (influential or in charge).
Have you ever wanted those things as you reach for your dreams? (Who hasn’t, right?)
Jesus’ response and subsequent choices are worth noting. Not only that, they bring solace for the journey.
The temptations experienced by Christ are shown as the archetype for the human experience in the realm of success (and any sort of leadership). The three kernels of wisdom include–
1. being prayerful instead of craving relevance
2. serving rather than desiring popularity found through skills and competencies
3. being led rather than focusing on power (leading/influencing)
It’s all very counter-cultural.
Nouwen lays out concise and clear arguments for these three and also includes which spiritual disciplines make the Kingdom way plausible (think of discipline here as “training” or “taking your vitamins”).
In a time were celebrity and influence (and even infamy) is the jackpot, just as much in Christian spheres as in secular ones, Nouwen speaks with a fresh and prophetic voice of wisdom that brings us to a path of peace.
In our strivings it’s easy to miss the presence of God, and even the mission of the Kingdom. It’s a quick trip to succumbing to temptations common to humans and not being people of Christlikeness. This book soothes the soul.
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If you’re interested in delving further into spiritual formation, creativity, and learning for a full year, the private online community/learning group called The Cadre is forming right now. (100% free, and I’m not selling anything.) It starts February (2013), and there are about 8 spots open. Click “The Cadre” at the top of the page to learn more, or contact me.
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(photo source: http://evolvenetwork.com.au/wordpress/index.php/5-steps-to-bring-success-into-your-life/)