by Andrea Slawson

Reggie McNeal wrote “Christian leaders who stay online with Jesus are shaped by the heart of God.”¹ This is the passion and goal of every Christian leader. The leader who is in communication with and submission to God achieves this goal. This communication and submission “grows out of a secure relationship grounded in love.”² To do this one must be in prayer. Moreover, we must have “regular contemplation on the mysterious and gracious works of God.”³ Contemplation reminds us God is in control and “grounds us in the grace that actually empowers us to serve.”4 To contemplate is to seek until we have found the answer to the mystery that is God.

Contemplation as a Leadership Essential

Contemplation is not a word that appears in the Bible, but throughout the Bible it can be found. It is aligning our thoughts with the One who created us for the calling we are commissioned to follow. Though it is our choice, God will invite us at times to join Him in the work He is doing. Contemplation helps get us through those dry times when we do not see the results we hoped for. It also helps gets us through when people let us down.

The goal of contemplation is to focus and gain deeper understanding of God and His Word, drawing in on an intimacy with Jesus. Taking the time to know the heart of God is what gets leaders through the valleys so they have the energy to climb to the mountain tops. This keeps the leaders’ focus on the Source (God) and not on the problem or task at hand.

Contemplation is Scriptural

Examples of contemplation are all throughout the Bible, especially in the Psalms. David thought about the workings and ways of God and recorded them.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” – Psalm 1:2

Great are the works of the Lord, they are studied by all who delight in them.” – Psalm 111:12

Contemplation is the response of a leader’s heart to an invitation from God to know Him deeper and better. It deepens the desires of one’s heart to have more intimacy with and knowledge of God. Proverbs 8:17 says, “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me.”

Contemplation is Intentional

Contemplation is putting God above any other thing or relationship. It is intentional. It is a place where our will meets the will of our Father and those two become one. This is where God would like all His children to dwell. This is where the leader stops seeking and starts experiencing a true relationship with their Creator. It is giving your whole self to God so that He can be free to speak to the heart and have the Spirit work completely through you. A leader that allows this to happen is one that is in touch with God. This person is led by the Spirit and effective for the furtherance of the Kingdom.

Contemplation Keeps the Leader Grounded

Whether in prayer or just keeping our focus intentionally on God, contemplation keeps leaders from being pulled all over the place. “Contemplative prayer keeps us home, rooted and safe, even when we are on the road, moving from place to place.”5 Contemplative prayer keeps us grounded in a home, in God’s presence, where there is love and peace. This home is where leaders find the source of the intimate relationship with Jesus that they need. Through prayer and the Word, God guides them in their advice and counsel of those who follow them.

Contemplation is All About God

Through contemplation we find that it is not about us but all about God. He is the beginning and the end. He is in total control. When we seek and find Him we can begin to understand the ways and workings of God. Leaders who want to lead with God in control must have an attention and focus beyond what we know. God wants a deep intimate relationship with His people and calls us near, “Who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?” (Jeremiah 30:21) He also tells us that He will come near to us (James 4:8). Contemplation is the discipline of seeking and finding God. Spirit-led leaders who dwell in this place give up control and let God work through them.


¹ Reggie McNeal, A Work of Heart: Understanding How God Shapes Spiritual Leaders. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 2000), 65.

² Ibid, 64.

³ Amber Riggs, 10 Qualities of Influential Leaders(, 2017)

4 Ibid.

5 Henri J.M Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus: Reflection on Christian Leadership. (USA, The Crossroad, 1989), 43.