The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen

I picked up this book for many reasons. One, I think Henri Nouwen is a great and authentic writer. Two, I loved concept of the book based on its title. Written in the late 1970’s, Nouwen attempts to connect our culture with our theology. Though technology has given us so much, we still struggle with direction, meaning, and purpose. No longer do modern Americans have to worry about food or shelter, yet we are still weak. In fact, we may be more wounded than ever before. 

So what do we do today? How do we become great Christian leaders in the modern world? We must go back to the basics. The most basic task of the Christian leader is to lead people out of the land of confusion into the land of hope. Compassion needs to be the core of authority. “Compassion is born when we discover in the center of our own existence not only that God is God and man is man, but also that our neighbor is really our fellow man.” 

I love Nouwen’s focus on compassion. As Nouwen states, compassion is born basically out of humility. When we remember that God is much greater, man is much lower, and that our neighbor is our fellow man then we are able to become effective leaders. “The task of the Christian leader is to bring out the best in man, and to lead him forward to a more human community.”

Nouwen continues with great statements about leadership: “A Christian leader is not a leader because he announces a new idea and tries to convince others of its worth…Christian leadership is called ministry precisely to express that in the service of others new life can be brought about…A Christian leader is a man of hope.”

All in all, I thought this book was mediocre. Despite a few gems about leadership, Nouwen leaves me wanting more. I think he has some great things to say, but the majority of the book seems to be an analysis on the culture of the day which is a bit foreign to me, seeing I was born years after the book was written. I think the book is a fine book, but I guess my expectations may bit a too high for Nouwen. I would recommend this book for a leadership study, however I only think a fraction of this book is helpful.