There is an old Jewish story which might help us to set the right tone when we discuss Christian leadership in tomorrow's world.

One day a young fugitive, trying to hide himself from the enemy, entered a small Jewish village. The people were kind to him and offered him a place to stay. But when the soldiers looking for the fugitive asked where he was hiding, everyone became very fearful. The soldiers threatened to burn the village and kill every man in it, unless the young man were handed over to them before dawn. The people went to the rabbi and asked him what to do. The rabbi, caught in the dilemma whether to hand over the boy to the enemy or to have his people killed, withdrew in his room, took the bible and started to read, hoping to find an answer before dawn. After many hours, in the early morning his eyes fell on the words: "It is better that one man dies than that the whole people be lost."

Then the rabbi closed the bible, called the soldiers and told them where the boy was hidden. And after the soldier led away the fugitive to be killed, there was a feast in the village because the rabbi had saved the life of the people. But the rabbi did not celebrate. He stayed in his room with a deep, sad feeling pervading him. At that moment the prophet entered and asked: "Rabbi, what have you done?" The rabbi said: "I handed over the fugitive to the enemy." Then the prophet said: "But don't you know that you have handed over the Messiah?" "How could I know?" the rabbi replied anxiously. Then the prophet said: "If, instead of reading your bible, you had visited this young man just once and looked into his eyes, you would have known."

We are challenged to look into the eyes of the young man and woman of today running away from our cruel ways. Perhaps just that will be enough to prevent us from handing him over to the enemy and enable us to lea him out of his hidden place into the middle of his people to redeem them from their fears.

Therefore we have two questions to answer:  1. How does the man of tomorrow look today? 2. How can we lead him to where he can redeem his people?

I. The Man of Tomorrow

In order to say anything meaningful about the man of tomorrow we have to discover, understand and interpret certain behavioral trends in the lives of those who are in the process of becoming. If man of today is often called an anonymous member of Riesman's lonely crowd, man of tomorrow will belong to the children of this lonely crowd. When we look into the eyes of the many young men and women who are on the border of adult­ hood, we must be able to see at least something of the coming world. Three characteristics of the children of the lonely crowd which seem to be of crucial importance for the shape of Christian leadership in the world of tomorrow appear to be

                1. Inwardness.

                2. Fatherlessness.

                3. Convulsiveness.

The immense literature about college youth and the coming man suggests that the generation which is going to ask for a new kind of leadership can be called the inward generation, the generation without fathers and the convulsive generation. These three titles are names for trends of development which we not only have to understand and interpret but also to project into our cloudy future.

The Inward Generation

In a recent study about the college generation of today, published last October, Jeffrey K. Hadden, found that the best word to characterize the coming generation was: "the inward generation." It is the generation which gives absolute priority to the personal and which tends in a remarkable way to withdraw into the self. This might seem surprising for those who are thinking of our youth in terms of highly activistic, protest-sign­ carrying people, who have their teach-ins, sit-ins, walk-ins and stay-ins all over the country and who think in many terms about themselves except one: inwardness. But first impressions are not always the right ones.

Let me tell you about a recent development of a famous youth center in Amsterdam. Last summer this center, called Fantasio, attracted thousands of young people from all over the world to be embraced by a psychedelic dreamlike atmosphere.

The building was divided into many small, cozy, wall­ to-wall painted rooms. Young people with long beards, long hair, dressed in colorful dresses, quite often parts of old liturgical vestments, were sitting there quietly smoking their stick, smelling their incense, and letting themselves be touched by the rhythmic sounds of the flesh-and-blood pervading music.

But now things are different. The young leaders threw out all psychedelics, remodeled their center into a very sober and more or less severe place and called it instead of Fantasio: Meditation Center the Kosmos. In the first issue of their new paper they wrote: "Cut off your long hair, throw away your beads, put on simple clothes, because now things are going to be serious." Concentration, contemplation and meditation have become the key words of the place. Yogis give classes in body control, people sit and talk for many hours about Chuang Tzu and the Eastern mystics and everyone is basically trying to find the road which leads inward.

You might be inclined to qualify this as the odd peripheral behavior which you find in every modern society, but Jeffrey Hadden shows that this behavior is a symptom of something much more general, much more basic and much more influential. It is the behavior of men who experience that there is nothing out-there or up-there on which they can get a solid grasp, which can pull them out of their uncertainty and confusion. No authority, no institution, no outside concrete reality has the power to call them out of their anxiety and loneliness and to make them free. The only way is the inward way. If there is nothing out-there or up­there, perhaps there is something meaningful, something solid in-there. Perhaps there is something to discover in the depth of the most personal self, which holds the mystery which can give the experience of meaning, freedom and unity.

The German sociologist Shelsky speaks about our time as a time of continuing-reflection. Instead of an obvious authority telling us how to think and what to do, the continuing-reflection has entered into the center of our existence. Dogmas are the hidden realities which man has to discover in his own interiority and self-consciousness as sources of self-understanding. The modern mind, Shelsky says, is in a state of constant self-reflection, trying to penetrate deeper and deeper into the core of its own individuality.

But where does this lead man? What kind of man will result from this inward moving self-reflection generation? Jeffrey K. Hadden writes:

The prospects are both ominous and promising. If turning inward to discover the self is but a step toward becoming a sensitive and honest person, our society's unfettered faith in youth may turn out to be justified. However, inwardness' present mood and form seems unbridled by any social norm or tradition and almost void of notions for exercise of responsibility toward others. (Psychology Today, October, 1969).

Jeffrey K. Hadden is the last one to suggest that the inward generation is on the brink of revitalizing the contemplative life and is ready for new forms of monasticism. His data show, first of all, that inwardness can lead to a form of privatism, which is not only anti­authority and anti-institutional, but also very self-centered, highly interested in material comfort and immediate satisfaction of existing needs and desires. But he also indicates that this does not have to be that way and that the possibility exists that the new reality discovered in the deepest self can be "molded into a commitment to transform society." The inwardness of the coming man can lead just as well to a higher level of hypocrisy as to the discovery of the reality of the unseen which can make for a new world. Much, if not everything, will depend on the kind of leadership given to this inward generation. But before we can speak to that question we have to come to a better understanding of the dynamics of inwardness through discussing the second title given to the coming man: man without fathers.

Parents But No Fathers

The many who call themselves father or allow themselves to be called father, from the Holy Father to the many father Abbots all the way to the thousands of fathers trying to hand over some good news, should know that the last one who will be listened to is the father. We are facing a generation, which has parents but no fathers, a generation in which everyone who claims authority—because he is older, more mature, endowed with more maturity, intelligence or power—is suspect from the very beginning. There was a time, and in many ways we see the last spastic movements of this time still around us, in which man's identity, his manhood and power, were given him by the father from above. I am good when I am patted on the shoulder by him who stands above me. I am smart when some father gives me a good grade. I am important when I studied at a well-known university as the intellectual child of a well-known professor. In short, I am who I am considered to be by one of my many fathers.

We could have predicted this since we accepted that man is not worth what he is given, but what he makes of himself. We could have expected this since we have said that faith is not the acceptance of centuries-old traditions but an attitude which grows from within. We could have known this since we started saying that man is free to choose his own future, his own work, his own wife.

But today, seeing that the whole adult, fatherly world, stands helpless before the threat of an atomic war, the eroding poverty and the hunger-death of millions in a few months, we see that no father has anything to tell us simply because he lived longer than the coming man. An English underground beat group yells it out:

The wall on which the prophets wrote
is cracking in the seams.
Upon the instruments of death
the sunlight brightly gleams.
When every man is torn apart
with nightmares and with dreams
will no one lay the laurel wreath
as silence drowns the screams.

This is what the coming man is watching and he knows that he has nothing to expect from above. Looking into the adult world he says:

I'm on the outside looking inside.
What do I see?
Much confusion, disillusion,
all around me.
You don't possess me
don't impress me
just upset my mind.
Can't instruct me or conduct me
just use up my time.

The only thing left for him is to try it alone. But not with proud bravery or contempt for the fathers telling him that he will do better, but instead with the deep-seated fear of complete failure. But he prefers to fail himself than to believe in them who have already failed in front of his own eyes. He only can say in the words of a modern song:

Confusion will be my epitaph
as I crawl a cracked and broken path.
If we make it we can all sit back and laugh.
But I fear tomorrow I'll be crying,
yes I fear tomorrow I'll be crying.

But this fearful generation rejecting their fathers and quite often rejecting the legitimacy of every person or institution that claims authority is facing a new danger: to become captive of themselves. David Riesman says: "As adult authority disintegrates, the young are more and more the captives of each other....When adult control disappears, the young's control of each other intensifies" (Psychology Today, October, 1969).

Instead of the fathers, the peers become normative. Many young people who are completely unimpressed by the demands, expectations and complaints of the big bosses of the adult world, show a scrupulous sensitivity to what their peers feel, think and say about them. Being considered an outcast or a dropout by the adults does not worry them. But being excommunicated by the small circle of friends to which they want to belong can be an unbearable experience. Many young people can even become enslaved by the tyranny of their peers and while appearing indifferent, casual and even dirty to their elders, their indifference is often carefully calculated, their casualness studied in the mirror and their dirty appearance based on a detailed imitation of their friends.

But the tyranny of the fathers is not the same as the tyranny of the peers. Because not following the fathers is quite a different thing from not living up to the expectations of the peers. The first means disobedience, the second non-conformity. The first creates guilt feelings, the second feelings of shame. In this respect there is an obvious shift from a guilt culture to a shame culture. This shift has very deep consequences, for when a man does not aspire any longer to become adult and take the place of the fathers, and when the main motivation is conformity to the peer group, we might witness the death of a future-oriented culture or—to use a theological term—the end of an eschatology. No desire anymore to leave the safe place and to travel to the father's house which has so many rooms, no hope to reach the promised land or to see Him who is waiting for his prodigal son, no ambition to sit at the right or the left side of the Heavenly Throne. Staying home, keeping in line and being in with your little group, that is important. But that also is an absolute vote for the status quo.

This trend raises real questions for the Christian leadership of tomorrow. But I would be giving a very one­sided picture as a basis for this leadership if we did not wait a moment and first take a careful look at the third aspect of the coming generation, called convulsiveness.


Inwardness and fatherlessness might suggest a very quiet and contented future in which man keeps to himself and tries to conform to his own little in-group. But then we do not take into account the fact that many of these developments are closely related to a very deep-seated unhappiness with the society in which man finds himself. There is an all-pervading feeling in many young people that there is something basically wrong with the world in which they live and that cooperation with existing models of living would be a betrayal of the self. Everywhere we see restless and nervous people, unable to concentrate and often suffering from a growing sense of depression. The knowledge that what is shouldn't be the way it is, combined with the lack of workable alternatives, often leads to frustration able to express itself in an undirected violence which destroys without clear purpose, or to a suicidal withdrawal from the world which is more a sign of protest than the result of a newfound ideal.

Immediately after the surrender of the exhausted state of Biafra, a few weeks ago, two high school boys in France, Robert 19 years old, and Regis, 16 years old, burned themselves to death and urged many of their peers to do the same. Interviews with their parents, pastors, teachers and their friends revealed the horrifying fact that all these students were deeply engaged in the social problems of their world, but had become so overwhelmed by the hopeless misery of mankind and the incapacity of the adults to offer any real faith in a better world, that they chose to put their bodies to fire as their ultimate way of protest. To reach a better understanding of the underlying feelings of such students let me quote from a letter of a student who had stopped studying and was, still trying to find a new world. He wrote to his mother on January 1, 1970:

Society forces me to live an unfree life, to accept values which are no values to me. I reject the society as it now exists as a whole, but since I feel compassion for people living together, I try to look for alternatives. I have given myself the obligation to become aware of what it means to be a man and to search for the source of life. Church people call it "God." You see that I am traveling a difficult road to come to self-fulfillment, but I am proud that I seldom did what others expected me to do in line of a so-called "normal development." I really hope not to end up on the level of a square, chained to customs, traditions and the talk of next-door neighbors...

This letter seems to me a very sensitive expression of what many young men feel. A fundamental unhappiness with their world, a strong desire to work for a change, but a deep doubt that they will do better than their parents and a nearly complete lack of any kind of vision or perspective. In this frame of reference I think that much erratic and undirected behavior must be understood. A man who feels caught like an animal in a trap might be dangerous and destructive because of his undirected movements caused by his own panic. This convulsive behavior is often misunderstood by those who have power and feel that society should be protected against the protesting youth. They do not recognize the tremendous ambivalence which is behind much of this convulsive behavior and instead of offering creative channels they tend to polarize the situation and radicalize those who are in fact only trying to find out what is worthwhile and what is not.

The generation to come is desperately asking for a vision, an ideal to dedicate themselves to, a "faith" if you want. But this drastic language is often misunderstood and considered more as a threat than a plea for alternatives of living. Riesman, speaking about the radical students on campus, writes that many adults fear to be thought old-fashioned or square and, by taking the part of the radical young without seeing the latter's own ambivalence, they are often no help to them but contribute to the severity of pressures from the peer group. And I expect to see that some faculty who have thought of themselves as very much on the side of students will themselves join the backlash when many students fail to reciprocate and are especially hostile towards the permissive faculty who have in the past been on their side (Psychology Today, October 1969).

This is obviously an important suggestion for the future leader. His own attitude towards the convulsive young will be critical for the question of how the world of tomorrow will look.

Inwardness, fatherlessness and convulsiveness. These three characteristics of today's young people draw the first vague lines of the face of the coming generation. Now we are ready to ask what is expected of him who aspires to be a Christian leader in the world of to­ morrow.

II. Tomorrow's Leader

When we now ask what the implications of our prognosis are for the Christian leadership in the future, three characteristics of the leader come to mind:

                1. The leader as the articulator of the inner events.

                2. The leader as the man of compassion.

                3. The leader as a contemplative critic.


The inward man is faced with a new and often dramatic task to come to terms with the inner tremendum. Since the God out-there or up-there is more or less dissolved in the many secular structures in which we can feel relatively at ease, the God within asks an attention as never before. And just as the God outside could be experienced not only as a loving father but also as a horrible demon, the God within can be not only the source of a new creative life but also the cause of a chaotic confusion.

It is known that the greatest complaint of the Spanish mystics, St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, was the lack of spiritual guides, who could help them to find the right paths to walk on and to distinguish between creative and destructive spirits. It hardly needs emphasis how dangerous the experimentation with the interior life can be. Not only drugs but different concentration practices and withdrawal into the self can often do more harm than good. On the other hand it also is becoming obvious that he who avoids the often painful encounter with the inner-reality of the Unseen is doomed to live a supercilious, boresome and superficial life.

The first and most basic task of the leader of tomorrow therefore is to help take the immense confusion which might arise when people enter this new infernal world. And it is a painful fact to realize how poorly formed most Christian leaders prove to be when they are invited to be spiritual leaders in the true sense. Most are used to thinking in terms of large organization, getting people together in all kinds of buildings, churches, schools and hospitals and to running the show as a circus director, that they have become un­ familiar with, and even somewhat afraid of, the deep and very significant movements of the spirit. I am afraid that in a few decades the church will be accused of having failed in its most basic task: to offer man creative ways to communicate with the source of his own life.

But how can we avoid this danger? I think by no other way than to enter, first of all, ourselves into the center of our existence and to become familiar with the complexities of our own inner life. As soon as we feel at home in our own house, discover the dark corners as well as the light spots, the closed doors as well as the drafty rooms, our confusion will disappear, anxiety lessen and creative work become possible. The keyword here is articulation. The man who can articulate the different movements of his inner life, who can give names to his contrasting experiences, no longer has to be a victim of himself but is able to slowly and consistently remove the obstacles which prevent the spirit from entering, and create space for Him whose heart is greater than his own, whose eyes see more than his and whose hands can heal more than he can.

This articulation, I believe, is the basis for a spiritual leadership in the future. Because only he who is able to articulate his own experience can offer himself to his fellowman as a source of clarification. The Christian leader is therefore first of all, the man who is willing to put his own articulated faith at the disposal of those who ask his help. In this sense he is a servant of servants, because he is the first to enter the promised but dangerous land to tell those who are afraid what he has seen, heard and touched.

This might sound very theoretical, but the concrete consequences are obvious. In practically all priestly functions, such as pastoral conversation, preaching, teaching and liturgy, the emphasis will very much be to help people recognize the work of God in them. The Christian leader, minister or priest, is not the man who hands out God to his people—who gives something he has to those who do not have it—but the man who helps those who are searching to discover the reality as the source of their own existence. In this sense we can say the Christian leader leads man to confession, in the classic sense of the word: the basic affirmation that man is man and God is God and that without God man cannot be called man.

In this context pastoral conversation is not a skillful use of conversation techniques to manipulate people into the Kingdom of God, but a deep human encounter in which one man is willing to put his own faith and doubt, his own hope and despair, his own light and darkness at the disposal of him who wants to find a way in his confusion and touch the solid core of life. In this context preaching means more than handing over any tradition, rather the careful and sensitive formulation of what is happening in the community so that those who listen can say: "You say what I suspected, you express what I vaguely felt, you bring to the fore what I fearfully kept in the back of my mind. Yes, yes—you say who we are, you recognize our condition...."

When a listening man is able to say this, then the ground is broken to receive the word of God, and no leader has to worry that it will not bear fruit. The happy realization that man doesn't have to run away from his fears and hopes but can see his own self in the face of the man who leads him, will make him understand the words of salvation which in the past often came down upon him as words from a strange and unfamiliar world.

Teaching in this context does not mean to tell the old story over and over again, but means first of all to offer channels through which the young person can discover himself, clarify his own experience and find the anchor-places in which the word of God can get a firm hold. And finally in this context liturgy is much more than ritual. It can become a real celebration when the liturgical leader is able to give a name to the space where joy and sorrow touch each other as the ground on which it is possible to celebrate life and death as well. So the first and most basic task of the Christian leader in the future will be to lead his people out of the land of confusion to the land of hope. Therefore he has to have the courage to be an explorer first of the new territory in his own self and to articulate his discoveries as a service to the inward generation.


By speaking about articulation as a form of leadership we have already suggested the place where the future leader will stand. Not up-there, out-there, far­ away or secretly hidden, but in the midst of his people with an utmost visibility.

If we now realize that the future generation is not only an inward generation asking for articulation but also a fatherless generation looking for a new kind of authority, we have then to ask what the nature of this authority will be. I cannot find a better word than com­ passion. It is compassion that has to become the core arid even the nature of authority. When the Christian leader wants to consider himself a man of God for the future generation, he can be so only insofar as he is able to make the compassion of God with man—which has become visible in Jesus Christ—credible in his own world.

The compassionate man stands in the midst of his people but does not get caught in the conformistic forces of the peer-group, because through his compassion he is able to avoid the distance of pity as well as the exclusiveness of sympathy. 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 fellowman.

Through compassion it is possible to recognize man's craving for love in our own heart and his cruelty in our own impulses, to see our hope for forgiveness in our friend's eyes and our refusal in their bitter mouths. When they kill, we know that we could have done it; when they give life, we know that we can do the same. For a compassionate man nothing human is alien: no joy and no sorrow, no way of living and no way of dying. This compassion is authority because it does not tolerate the pressures of the in-group, but breaks through the boundaries between languages and countries, rich and poor, educated and primitives and pulls man away from the fearful clique into the large world where he can see that every human face is the face of a fellow­man. This means that the authority of compassion is the possibility of man to forgive his brother. Because forgiveness is only real for him who has discovered the weakness of his friends and the sins of his enemy in his own heart and is willing to call every human being his brother. A fatherless generation looks for brothers who are able to take away their fear and anxiety, who can open the doors of their narrowmindedness and show them that forgiveness is a possibility which dawns on the horizon of humanity.

The compassionate man who points to the possibility of forgiveness, helps man to free himself from the chains of his restrictive shame, allows him to experience his own guilt and restores his hope for a future in which the lamb and the lion can sleep together.

But here we need to be aware of the great temptation of the Christian leader to come. All over, Christian leaders, men as well as women, have become more and more aware of the need for more specific training and formation. This need is realistic and the desire for more professionalism in the ministry is understandable, but the danger exists that instead of making man free to let the spirit grow, the coming minister will entangle himself in the complicated ropes of his own so-called competence and use his specialism as an excuse to avoid the much more difficult challenge to be a compassionate man…The task of the Christian leader is to bring out the best of man and to lead him forward to a more human community. The danger is that his skillful diagnostic eye becomes more an instrument for distant and detailed analysis than a reflection of a compassionate partner. And if the priests and ministers of today would think that more skill-training would be the solution for the problem of the Christian leadership for the future generation, they might end up being more frustrated and disappointed than the leaders of today. More training and formation are just as necessary as more bread for the hungry. But just as bread given without love can cause war instead of peace, professionalism without compassion will degenerate forgiveness into a gimmick and the kingdom to come into a blindfold.

This brings us to the final characteristic of the Christian leader for the future generation. If he wants to be, not just one in the long row of professionals who try to help man with their specific skills, but really an agent not only leading man from confusion to hope, but also his world from chaos to harmony, he has to be not only articulate and compassionate but also a contemplative at heart.


If it is true that the inward fatherless generation wants to do any possible thing to change the world in which they live but tends to act spastically and convulsively, due to a lack of credible alternatives, the question arises how the Christian leader will be able to direct the explosive energy into creative channels and to really be an agent of change. It might sound surprising and perhaps even contradictory, but I think that what is asked of the Christian leader of the future is to be a contemplative critic.

I hope I will be able to prevent the free association of the word contemplative with a classic monastic life lived behind walls with a minimal contact with what is going on in the fast-moving world. What I have in mind is a very active, engaged form of contemplation which is of an evocative nature. This needs some explanation.

Man who does not know where he goes and what kind of world he is heading to, and wonders if bringing forth children in our chaotic world is not more a sign of cruelty than of love, often will be tempted to become sarcastic or even cynical. He laughs at his busy friends, but does not know what else to offer. He protests against many things but does not know what to witness for. But the Christian leader who has discovered in his own self the voice of the calling spirit and has rediscovered his fellow-man with compassion might be able to look at the persons he meets, the contacts he has, and the events he becomes a part of, in a different way and reveal the first lines of the new world behind the veil of everyday life. As a contemplative critic he keeps a certain distance to prevent absorption in what is most urgent and most immediate, but that same distance al­ lows him to bring to the fore the real beauty of man and his world, which is always different, always fascinating, always new.

It is not the task of the Christian leader to go around nervously trying to redeem people, to save them at the last minute, to put them on the right track. Man is redeemed, once and for all. The call of the Christian leader is to help man to affirm this great news, and to make visible in the daily events, the fact that behind the dirty curtain of his painful symptoms there is something great to be seen: The face of Him in Whose image he is shaped. In this way the contemplative can be a leader for a convulsive generation because he can break through the vicious circle of immediate needs asking for immediate satisfaction and can direct the eyes of those who want to look at what is beyond their impulses and lead their erratic energy into creative channels. Here we see that the future Christian leader in no way can be considered as a man who is just concerned about individuals asking help in adapting themselves to their demanding world. In fact, the Christian leader who is able to be a critical contemplative will be a revolutionary in the most real sense. Because by testing all he sees, hears and touches on their evangelical authenticity, he is the man who is able to change the course of history and lead his people away from the panic-stricken convulsions to the creative action which will make for a better world.

He does not pick up every protest sign to be in with those who express their frustration more than their ideas, nor will he easily join those asking for more protection, more police, more discipline and more order. But he will look critically at what is going on and make his decision based on insight into his own vocation and not on the desire for popularity or the fear of rejection. He will criticize the protesters as well as the rest-seekers, when their motives are false and their objectives dubious.

The contemplative is not needy or greedy for human contacts, but is guided by a vision of what he has seen beyond the trivial concerns of a possessive world. He does not bounce up and down the waves of fashion of the day and the hour, because he is in constant con­ tact with what is basic, central, and ultimate. He does not allow anybody to worship idols and constantly invites his fellowman to ask the real, often painful and upsetting questions, to look behind the surface of smooth behavior and to take away all the obstacles which pre­ vent him from getting to the heart of the matter. The contemplative critic takes away the illusory mask of the manipulative world and has the courage to show what the real situation of man is. He knows that he is considered by many as a fool, a madman, a danger for society and a threat for mankind. But he is not afraid to die since his vision makes him transcend the difference between life and death and makes him free to do what has to be done here and now, notwithstanding the risks involved.

More than anything else he will look into the reality of the concrete situation in which he finds himself, for signs of hope and promise. The contemplative critic has the sensibility to notice the small mustard seed and the trust that "when it has grown it is the biggest shrub of all and becomes a tree so that the birds of the air come and shelter in its branches." He knows that if there is hope for a better world in the future the signs must be visible in the present and he will never curse the now in favor of the later. He is not a naive optimist who expects that all his frustrated desires will be satisfied in the coming days, nor a bitter pessimist who keeps repeating that the past has taught him that there is nothing new under the sun, but a man of hope who lives with the unshakable conviction that now he is seeing a dim reflection in a mirror, but that one day he will see face to face.

The Christian leader who not only is able to articulate the movements of the spirit but also is able to contemplate his world with a compassionate but critical eye may expect that the convulsive generation will not choose death as the ultimate desperate form of protest, but instead the new life of which he has made visible the first hopeful signs.


We looked into the eye of the young fugitive and found him inward, fatherless and convulsive. We wanted to prevent ourselves from handing him over to the enemy to be killed, and instead to lead him to the center of our village and to recognize in this coming man the redeemer of a fearful world. To do this we are challenged to be articulate, compassionate and contemplative. Is this too much of a task? Only if we feel we have to accomplish this, everyone on his own. But if any­ thing has become clear in our days, it is that leadership is a shared vocation which develops by working closely together in a community where men and women can make each other realize, as Teilhard de Chardin said, "to him who can see, nothing is profane."

Having said all this I realize that I have done nothing else than rephrase the fact that the Christian leader must be in the future what he always had to be in the past: a man of prayer, a man who has to pray and who has to pray always. This might come as a shock in all its simplicity, but I hope that I succeeded in taking away all the sweet, pietistic, and churchy aura attached to this so often misused word.

Because a man of prayer is, in the final analysis, the man who is able to recognize in his fellowman the face of the Messiah and make visible what was hidden, and touchable what was unreachable. The man of prayer is a leader exactly because through the articulation of God's work with him he can lead his fellow-man out of confusion to clarification, through his compassion he can guide him out of the closed circuit of his in­ group to the wide world of humanity, and through his critical contemplation he can convert his convulsive destructiveness into creative work for the new world to come.

Father Henri Nouwen is visiting professor of pastoral theology at the University of Notre Dame and teaches the same subiect in the seminary at Utrecht.

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