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A Work of Heart: Understanding How God Shapes Spiritual Leaders (Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series Book 65) Kindle Edition
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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.
From the Back Cover
"It is not just the skills of ministry that are important. The heart-sculpting work of God creates quality ministries. A Work of Heart explains how God is shaping each of us for future service."
—Bob Buford, founding chairman, Leadership Network
"We've read leadership manuals ad nauseum. We've attended every high-powered conference imaginable. We've bought the T-shirts, the three-ring binders, and all the right soundbites. But if we're honest, we're in serious drift mode, and we know it. . . . In A Work of Heart, Reggie McNeal has given us nothing less than CPR for the leader's soul, a book that moves us beyond leadership 'how-tos' to the lifeline of genuine influence—our own intricate, passionate journey with God."
—Sally Morgenthaler, author, Worship Evangelism
"Everyone committed to developing leaders must study Reggie McNeal's understandings of heart shaping, and in doing so, will experience their own hearts being sculpted."
—Donald O. Clifton, past chairman, The Gallup Organization
"This is a must-read for present and emerging leaders who desire to balance practical leadership techniques with a heart shaped by God. In typical McNeal fashion, this book makes the connection between the truths of Scripture and the real world the leader lives in."
—Tim Schroeder, pastor, Trinity Baptist Church, Kelowna, BC, Canada
"Don't lose heart! Reggie McNeal helps us look under the hood, at the engine of our lives and leadership—our heart—and shows us what it takes to lead with increasing clarity and confidence and live with greater peace."
—Dieter Zander, church planter, San Francisco, California
From the Inside Flap
—From the Preface
In this updated edition of his bestselling book A Work of Heart, Reggie McNeal proposes that effective spiritual leaders must become experts in matters of the heart—particularly their own. Keeping heart for the demanding work of ministry hinges on leaders' ability to discern God at work in their own lives, shaping their hearts to embrace the particular ministries to which they are called. This process of finding heart depends on an interactive partnership with God. God introduces the storyline—but the leader's responses affect the development of the drama.
To demonstrate the book's key points, McNeal leads readers on an excursion into the heart-shaping drama of four major Biblical leaders: Moses, David, Jesus, and Paul. He identifies the influences God used to shape them: Culture—the times and the environment in which a leader is raised; Call—the leader's personal call by God to mission; Community—the people who shape and sustain the leader; Communion—the leader's personal relationship with God; Conflict—the leader's engagement of destructive forces in life and ministry; and Commonplace—the daily choices of living.
Using illustrative stories of contemporary church leaders who opened their hearts to God's guidance, McNeal shows how God is still using these same influences to shape the hearts of religious leaders today. God creates leaders in order to share his heart with his people.--This text refers to the hardcover edition.
- ASIN : B005V2YJT0
- Publisher : Jossey-Bass; 2 edition (Oct. 12 2011)
- Language : English
- File size : 1071 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 219 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 1118103181
- Best Sellers Rank: #355,073 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- #300 in Christian Church Administration (Books)
- #355,073 in Kindle eBooks
- Customer Reviews:
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As I read through the book and tried to process what I liked and disliked about it, I came to the conclusion that it is the anecdotal nature of the book that captures its best and worst qualities.
On the positive side, McNeal is obviously a seasoned and wise minister to ministers. Based on the amount of stories McNeal tells one gets the feeling that a lot of this book is the kind of wisdom he gives on a daily basis to the spiritual leaders he assists through his ministry. The reader will benefit from McNeal’s experience and wisdom as he reflects upon the six central domains of introspection or “heart works” he selects. In this sense, reading this book is like having a long lunch with a seasoned mentor and soaking in the advice and stories he has to offer.
That kind of thing has its own intrinsic value, and we can call it anecdotal value. In courts of law “anecdotal evidence” is the kind of evidence that comes from a single person whose perspective is considered valuable but limited. The evidence is not considered complete until it is compared to other accounts and data. So on the positive side of things, McNeal’s anecdotal book is valuable precisely because it gives us the wisdom and perspective of a credible witness in spiritual leadership without all the distillation that a more critical account might require. This book is a great start to a conversation, and it is up to the reader to decide where to agree and disagree with McNeal to continue it.
Yet the anecdotal nature of the book also limits its value. The book lacks a bibliography precisely because McNeal chooses not to investigate the topics beyond the scope of his own knowledge-base. Of course the author has obviously read, studied, and thought about these topics. And it is not difficult to see at certain points where McNeal is reacting to certain trends in ministry or ideologies in the air. But where he alludes to outside voices he is mostly negative and dismissive. There is no real dialogue, complexity, or nuance that a more critical investigation might offer. The reader simply gets McNeal’s pontifications.
This is frustrating in two ways. First, unless a spiritual leader has not thought about these ideas at all (which I don’t think is true of the majority of this book’s target audience), the book does not offer much in the way of novelty. This means that the reader must slog through a lot of familiar ideas to get to the nuggets of wisdom. One might even have problems with the perspective McNeal offers on these familiar ideas simply because they have a history of debate that the author largely ignores.
Second, it leads to a number of errors that distract from the main purposes of the book. McNeal’s explicit refusal to use outside sources like commentaries on his outline of Moses, David, Paul, and Jesus in the first part leads to a number of exegetical errors in the way McNeal understands these figures. In addition, the anecdotal, conversational nature of McNeal’s reflections produce contradictions inevitable to any one-sided perspective. For instance, although at a number of points McNeal rejects the primacy of attendance numbers as the most important evaluative tool for ministerial success, the vast majority of his narrative examples define success in terms of numerical growth or loss.
To summarize, the anecdotal nature of the book is both its strength and weakness. On the one hand, it gives us an audience at McNeal’s feet, learning from someone with experience who has thought through these issues in his own way and puts them to practice in his own ministerial context. On the other hand, it limits the extent to which McNeal can offer anything more than a one-sided perspective, and often falls prey to bothersome errors.
As a point of confession, I write this as a seminary-trained minister. My story is one that began in introspection and theological education and now I’m beginning to tackle a host of complementary skills necessary to a holistic ministry (like leadership training, which is why I’m reading this book) . My suspicion is that McNeal is writing for those whose stories are the opposite: those who have the amazing leadership, technological, and other kinds of skills that I’m working towards and find themselves working towards introspective, spiritual, and theological skills.
In that sense, the book is well-merited, if not timely, as the seminary model of ministry training continues to decline. Yet for those that are familiar with the basics of spiritual discipline, introspection, culture, vocation, community, etc., there might be other books of more value. Any reader will benefit from this book some way, but there may be more efficient ways to spend the limited amount of time ministers have for personal study.
The first part of the book brings novel insights into the development of the ministries of Moses, David, Paul and Jesus. He then brings very realistic ways of viewing one's role in working for God and powerfully brings in their experiences in practical ways.