Monday, March 31, 2008

Nouwen on spirituality, organization, creative weakness

"What is the relationship between spirituality and organization? The question led us to the more specific problem: How can the minister be an agent of change? We discussed the attitude of the commissar, who wants to change the structure first--even if he has to use power and sacrifice people to come to the concrete results he thinks are indispensable for the new world to come. We also discussed the attitude of the inward man, who feels that only by changing the hearts of the individual can we change the structures of society. But just as the social activist is in danger of forgetting that the pains of our society are also to be found in the heart of the reformer, so too does the inward man overlook the colossal problems of our society that go far beyond the personal insights of any individual man. The Christian layman,priest or minister who wants to be an agent of social change is constantly challenged to look for the synthesis of (the two).. As long as a Christian lives he keeps searching for a new order without
divisions between people, for a new structurer..he is irritated by satisfaction and self-content in himself as well as others, since he knows, with an unshakable certainty, that something great is coming of which he has already seen the fist rays of new light..

...But this way of creative transendence is a way that requires ministry...(ministers) who help their friends distinguish between the constructive and destructive spirits and making them free for the discovery of God's life-giving Spirit in the midst of this maddening world. It calls for creative weakness."

(Nouwen, "Creative Ministry",1971;pp.88-89, 113)


  1. At first glance this may seem unrelated.. but if love is fundamental to growth and change, then it is closely related.

    "To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept. Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings. The beauty of listening is that, those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their own true selves. Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you."

  2. very related! Thanks, Len.

    If only we leader types could live it out.

    Listened to david Ruis tonight: "Listen for the sound beyond the sound"

    Jacob Loewen talks about "listening with the third ear."

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  4. As said by our friend, Dave Bazan of Pedro The Lion, in their song "Foregone Conclusions" (sorry for the language):

    You were too busy steering the conversation toward the Lord
    to hear the voice of the Spirit begging you to shut the f*ck up.
    You thought it must be the devil trying to make you go astray.
    Besides it couldn't have been the Lord because you don't believe He talks that way.

  5. Mark,you are amazing.

    Love Bazan. Can you get away with doing that song in a worship gathering?(:

  6. I tried but they didn't like the beat.


Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!