Spiritual Leadership: Are You a Lion, a Lamb, or Some of Both?

I love Henry Nouwen’s writings. When you read his books you realize this man walked with God and oozed wisdom. I ran across this quote that caused me to think about the qualities of my spiritual leadership. He incisively uses the metaphor of a lion and a lamb. Read this quote thoughtfully and ask yourself about your leadership.

“There is within you a lamb and a lion. Spiritual maturity is the ability to let lamb and lion lie down together. Your lion is your adult, aggressive self. It is your initiative-taking and decision-making self. But there is also your fearful, vulnerable lamb, the part of you that needs affection, support, affirmation, and nurturing. When you heed only your lion, you will find yourself overextended and exhausted. When you take notice of only your lamb, you will easily become a victim of your need for other people’s attention.

The art of spiritual living is to fully claim both your lion and your lamb. Then you can act assertively without desiring your own needs. And you can ask for affection and care without betraying your talent to offer leadership. Developing your identity as a child of God in no way means giving up your responsibilities. Likewise, claiming your adult self in no way means that you cannot become increasingly a child of God. In fact, the opposite is true. The more you can feel safe as a child of God, the freer you will be to claim your mission in the world as a responsible human being. And the more you claim you have a unique task to fulfill for God, the more open you will be to letting your deepest need be met.

The Kingdom of peace that Jesus came to establish begins when your lion and your lamb can freely and fearlessly lie down together.”

-From, Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Dance of Life: Weaving Sorrows and Blessing into One Joyful Step, ed. Michael Ford (Notre Dame, IN: Ava Maria press, 2005), 156.

When I read this quote, I asked myself which do I neglect, the lion or the lamb. How about you?