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10 Henri Nouwen Quotes to Inspire and Encourage Your Spiritual Journey

Discover the profound wisdom of Henri Nouwen through his spiritual and inspirational quotes. Explore the transformative power of Henri Nouwen's books and quotes to nourish your soul and deepen your spiritual journey.
by The Blinkist Team | Jan 16 2024

Henri Nouwen, a renowned spiritual writer and Catholic priest, has left an indelible mark on the world with his profound insights into the human condition and the spiritual life. Through his numerous books and lectures, Nouwen explored themes of vulnerability, compassion, and the search for meaning, offering guidance and solace to countless individuals seeking a deeper connection with themselves, others, and the divine. His teachings resonate with readers of all backgrounds, making Nouwen a beloved and influential figure in spirituality and personal growth.

Embark on a transformative spiritual journey with the wisdom and insight of Henri Nouwen. Known for his profound spirituality and deep understanding of the human condition, Nouwen’s words have the power to inspire, encourage, and guide us on our spiritual path. In this article, we have curated 10 of Henri Nouwen’s most impactful quotes that will touch your soul, ignite your faith, and remind you of the beauty and purpose of your spiritual journey. Whether you are seeking solace, seeking answers, or seeking a deeper connection with the divine, these quotes will uplift your spirit and illuminate the path ahead. Get ready to be inspired and embark on a transformative journey with these powerful Henri Nouwen quotes.

10 Inspiring Henri Nouwen Quotes to Uplift Your Spirit

Forgiveness changes the way we remember.

Henri Nouwen

This line emphasizes the importance of forgiveness in shaping our memories. It suggests that when we choose to forgive, it has a transformative effect on how we recall past experiences. Instead of holding onto resentment and bitterness, forgiveness allows us to let go of negative emotions and create a more positive and compassionate narrative. By choosing forgiveness, we can free ourselves from the burden of grudges and create a more peaceful and harmonious inner world.

Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the Beloved.

Henri Nouwen

This quote emphasizes the detrimental impact of self-rejection on our spiritual journey. It suggests that when we reject ourselves and fail to recognize our inherent worthiness, we are in direct contradiction to the sacred voice within us that affirms our identity as the Beloved. This quote highlights the importance of self-acceptance and self-love as essential components of a fulfilling spiritual life. It encourages us to embrace our true selves and honor the divine presence within us, recognizing that we are deserving of love and belonging.

The great illusion of leadership is to think that man can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there.

Henri Nouwen

Henri Nouwen offers a thought-provoking insight into the nature of leadership and the importance of personal experience. This quote highlights the fallacy of believing that someone who has never faced hardship or adversity can effectively guide others through difficult times. Nouwen suggests that true leadership requires an intimate understanding of the challenges and struggles faced by those being led. It emphasizes the need for leaders to have firsthand knowledge and empathy for the “desert” experiences of others in order to provide meaningful guidance and support.

If you feel loved, you can do a thousand things. If you feel rejected, everything becomes a problem.

Henri Nouwen

This quote highlights the profound impact that love and rejection can have on our lives. It suggests that feeling loved gives us a sense of confidence and empowerment, enabling us to accomplish great things. On the other hand, feeling rejected can cloud our judgment and make even the simplest tasks seem insurmountable. This quote emphasizes the importance of cultivating love and acceptance in our relationships and surroundings, as it has the power to shape our perspective and influence our actions.

You don’t think your way into a new kind of living. You live your way into a new kind of thinking.

Henri Nouwen

Once again, Henri Nouwen presents a thought-provoking perspective on personal growth and transformation. This quote challenges the notion that change and new ways of thinking can be achieved solely through intellectual reasoning. Instead, Nouwen suggests that true transformation occurs through lived experiences and actions. It emphasizes the importance of embodying new beliefs and values in our daily lives, rather than simply theorizing or analyzing them. By actively engaging in a new way of living, we can gradually shift our thinking and cultivate a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

In a world so torn apart by rivalry, anger, and hatred, we have the privileged vocation to be living signs of a love that can bridge all divisions and heal all wounds.

Henri Nouwen

This line emphasizes the importance of love and unity in a world that is often plagued by conflict and animosity. It reminds us that we have a unique and privileged role to play in promoting peace and healing. By embodying love and compassion, we can serve as beacons of hope and agents of reconciliation. In a world that is divided, this quote encourages us to transcend differences and work towards building bridges that can mend wounds and bring people together.

It is in solitude that we discover that being is more important than having and that we are worth more than the results of our efforts.
In solitude we discover that our life is not a possession to be defended but a gift to be shared.

Henri Nouwen

This quote emphasizes the transformative power of solitude and self-reflection. It suggests that in moments of solitude, we come to realize that our true worth lies not in material possessions or external achievements, but in the essence of our being. It highlights the importance of recognizing that our life is not meant to be guarded or hoarded, but rather to be shared and experienced with others. This quote encourages us to embrace solitude as a means of discovering our true selves and cultivating a deeper sense of purpose and connection with the world around us.

What makes us human is not our mind but our heart, not our ability to think but our ability to love.

Henri Nouwen

Nouwen offers a thought-provoking insight into the essence of humanity. He suggests that what truly defines us as human beings is not our intellectual capacity or cognitive abilities, but rather our capacity to love and show compassion. This quote challenges the notion that our intelligence alone is what sets us apart from other creatures, emphasizing the importance of emotional intelligence and our ability to connect with others on a deeper level. It reminds us that love is a fundamental aspect of our humanity, and that it is through acts of love and kindness that we truly express our humanity.

Hope is willing to leave unanswered questions unanswered and unknown futures unknown. Hope makes you see God’s guiding hand not only in the gentle and pleasant moments but also in the shadows of disappointment and darkness.

Henri Nouwen

This quote emphasizes the power of hope and its ability to embrace uncertainty and unanswered questions. It suggests that hope allows us to trust in a higher power and perceive divine guidance even in moments of disappointment and darkness. This quote encourages us to have faith in the unseen and to find solace and strength in the belief that there is a greater plan at work. It reminds us that hope is not limited to only the positive and pleasant aspects of life, but can also be found in the shadows and challenges we face.

Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. It is a choice based on the knowledge that we belong to God and have found in God our refuge and our safety and that nothing, not even death, can take God away from us.

Henri Nouwen

Henri Nouwen offers a profound insight into the nature of joy and its connection to our choices and beliefs. This quote suggests that joy is not something that simply occurs by chance, but rather, it is a deliberate decision that we must make each day. It emphasizes the importance of recognizing our belonging to a higher power and finding solace and security in that connection. According to Nouwen, this understanding allows us to embrace joy even in the face of adversity, knowing that nothing can separate us from the presence of God. Do you want to become a better Christian as well?


In conclusion, Henri Nouwen’s quotes have provided a profound and transformative perspective on our spiritual journey. They remind us to find solace in our faith, seek answers with an open heart, and embrace the beauty and purpose of our spiritual path. Nouwen’s words serve as guiding lights, illuminating the way forward and inspiring us to deepen our connection with the divine. As we reflect on these quotes, let us remember that our spiritual journey is a lifelong process of growth, self-discovery, and connection. May these quotes continue to inspire and encourage us as we navigate the twists and turns of our spiritual path.


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