The Spiritual Leader's Vitality
May 19, 2004
Even spiritual exercises and disciplines can be terribly hollow. The real center is hearing God's voice and obeying his Word.
As we are involved in unceasing thinking, so we are called to unceasing prayer.
The crying need of the spiritual leader, someone once pointed out, is "a sense of the spiritual center." But how does a leader develop that sense? What roads lead to increased spiritual vitality?
Discussing those questions are two men who have ventured on the inner journey and written eloquently of their travels.
Richard Foster has been a Quaker pastor in California and Oregon. He taught at George Fox College and now teaches at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas. He has written Celebration of Discipline; Freedom of Simplicity; and Money, Sex & Power (all Harper & Row), books that call for increased commitment to live the Christian life. Yet it's obvious from Foster's quick laugh and soft eyes that for him Christian commitment doesn't mean something hard and austere, but something warm and loving.
Henri J. M. Nouwen is a Catholic priest and psychologist who has taught at Notre Dame and Yale Divinity School. He is now priest-in-residence at the L'Arche Community near Toronto. Among Nouwen's many books are The Genesee Diary and The Wounded Healer (Doubleday), which take a look at what it means to be a Christian and a minister in modern society. But Nouwen's prophetic words are tempered by an intense, electric concern for those around him. He's easy to love, and his quick, reasoned thinking invites acceptance.
In reading their books, one realizes Foster and Nouwen are saying many of the same things. Yet they are from widely divergent traditions and use different language to express their thoughts. ...