A Work of Heart: Understanding How God Shapes Spiritual Leaders

A Work of Heart: Understanding How God Shapes Spiritual Leaders

A Work of Heart: Understanding How God Shapes Spiritual Leaders

A Work of Heart: Understanding How God Shapes Spiritual Leaders


Revised and updated edition of the classic work on spiritual leadership

In A Work of Heart, bestselling author and missional expert Reggie McNeal helps leaders reflect on the ways in which God is shaping them by letting us see God at work in the lives of four quintessential biblical leaders: Moses, David, Jesus, and Paul. McNeal identifies the formative influences upon these leaders, which he sees as God's ways of working in their lives: the same influences at work today forming leaders for ministry in our times. He explores the shaping influence of culture, call, community, conflict, and the commonplace.

  • Offers guidance for church leaders to let God shape their hearts from the inside out
  • Reggie McNeal is the author of the bestselling book Missional Renaissance
  • Gives reassurance for maintaining perspective while doing the demanding work of ministry

The book includes illustrative stories of contemporary leaders opening their hearts to God's guidance.


I could hear it in his voice. He wanted out. After only a year in his new pastorate, Frank was ready to throw in the towel. In fact, he was not sure he even wanted to remain in the ministry. This was his third church. At first, it had seemed to be a fresh opportunity. Now it felt all too familiar. He had been here before—but in another location. The names, faces, and scenery had changed but not the plot. The people were good people. They treated him well, but they differed in ministry values and agenda. Frank wanted to reach out to the community; the church seemed content to look after its own. The knowledge that it would take three to five years to shift their thinking, accompanied by resistance and pain, further discouraged him. He could not stay at it that long, he said. His emotional reserves were depleted. Now, in his mid-forties, Frank questioned whether he wanted to do this the rest of his life. In short, he had lost heart. The lesson: when a leader loses heart, he loses.

Terry had enjoyed a long winning streak. The church he had previously served as a staff member had grown like a weed and had attracted attention for its innovative ministry from people outside the church culture. All of that changed with the move across country. The new assignment brought him into direct conflict with the old leadership, who denied the fact of the congregation’s decade-long decline. Innovation not only was considered a threat but also was perceived as disloyal to Terry’s longtenured predecessor. To make matters worse, Terry fought a debilitating and deteriorating medical condition. Yet, in the face of these enormous challenges, Terry maintained energy and focus. He refused to succumb to discouragement or to give up on the situation. His determination inspired others around him. The situation turned around. Against all odds, Terry refused to become an unintentional interim. In short, Terry kept heart. The lesson: leaders who do not lose heart become champions, not victims.

Spiritual leadership is a work of heart. This truth escapes many spiritual leaders. Caught up in helping other people maintain their hearts, they frequently ignore or neglect their own. They suffer for this oversight.

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