Gleanings: The Necessity of Compassion

Here’s a good second post for Wednesday—the day we focus on clergy and spiritual leaders here at Oboedire.  Henri Nouwen reminds us of the importance of compassion in the practice of ministry….

The Church often wounds us deeply.  People with religious authority often wound us by their words, attitudes, and demands.  Precisely because our religion brings us in touch with the questions of life and death, our religious sensibilities can get hurt most easily.   Ministers and priests seldom fully realize how a critical remark, a gesture of rejection, or an act of impatience can be remembered for life by those to whom it is directed.

There is such an enormous hunger for meaning in life, for comfort and consolation, for forgiveness and reconciliation, for restoration and healing, that anyone who has any authority in the Church should constantly be reminded that the best word to characterize religious authority is compassion.   Let’s keep looking at Jesus whose authority was expressed in compassion.

- Henri J. M. Nouwen

About jstevenharper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 31 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church
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