Multiplication Center

Reggie McNeal Writes to the Heart of Leadership

October 18, 2011

Cover for A Work of HeartLeadership Network is happy to announce a newly updated edition of A Work of Heart: Understanding How God Shapes Spiritual Leaders is now available. First published in 2000, the updated edition includes a new preface from author Reggie McNeal, sharing his 10-year perspective on the landscape of spiritual leadership. The book also includes questions for discussion or reflection in your personal spiritual leadership journey.

In A Work of Heart Reggie 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. Reggie 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.

I asked Reggie to share some thoughts about revisiting A Work of Heart:

How has your perspective on church leadership changed since A Work of Heart was originally published?  

I am more convinced than ever that leaders must pay attention to their interior lives in order to be effective spiritual leaders.

In the preface, you mention that of all the books you've written, this book is your favorite. Why is that? 

Everyone is interested in their own personal development. Turning people into leaders is an easy thing for God to do. Turning leaders into people is much more challenging. I enjoy observing how he does it.

What's the biggest takeaway you hope to leave readers with? 

I want to underscore for leaders that they must become guides in matters of the heart. Spiritual leadership has, as its primary assignment, the responsibility to reflect the heart of God to those in our leadership constellation. This requires that we understand how we co-conspire with God in our own heart-shaping, which in turn helps us become more adept in helping others understand this fundamental process of making meaning out of life.

Which of the four leaders' stories (Moses, David, Jesus, Paul) do you personally most identify with? 

I know the right answer is Jesus, but I think that different periods of my life actually identify more with one leader than another.  As a young man, I think David was particularly easy to identify with–not because of his murder and adultery–but because of his passion and brashness. He had a heart for God that I wanted.  As a church planter, I identified with Moses, especially at the point of helping people transition from one way of life to another and in moving God's people through wilderness experiences. Now, I have a certain kinship with Paul, trying to articulate a movement to people who are investigating it as a way of life. In my case, it is the missional church movement, with its theological and missiological implications that move us from a church-centric to a kingdom-centric pursuit. It is a very challenging assignment, given that our theology and methodology for the past 1700 years has been congregational-centric. We are now in the process of having to redo our theological categories for a movement that has taken to the street. For many, this is as hard to imagine as it was for first-century converts to grasp what the birth of the church meant.


Reggie McNeal is the missional leadership specialist for Leadership Network. Drawing on twenty years of leadership roles in local congregations and his work over the last two decades with thousands of clergy and church leaders, he counsels local churches, denominational groups, seminaries and colleges, and parachurch organizations in their leadership development needs.

To download a free sample chapter of this book, and to order your copy, visit

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