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The Skill of Pondering by Michael Warden

Mar 20th, 2009 | By | Category: Coaching Ministry Leaders


In my work with ministry leaders, a lot of the focus naturally centers on the question, “What does it really take to make a dream come true?” The simple answer to that is reflected in the “path” work taught by the Center for Right Relationship, which describes the process by which something becomes reality as a path that progresses from Essence, to Dreaming, and finally to Manifest Reality. Of course, “simple” does not mean easy. The path to making something real is often fraught with obstacles and ditches and giants and gremlins and all sorts of other speed bumps that get in the way.

But lately, I’ve been profoundly struck by a particular way that leaders unintentionally sink their own ship when it comes making their dream come true–even dreams that they fully believe are from God. They dream a little, then immediately race headlong to action. And the action (or strategic planning, which is also action) kills the dream before it has had a chance to fully form. It’s horribly disheartening, and typically leaves leaders feeling stuck and robbed of hope.

What’s missing is the artful, expansive skill of pondering. To ponder a dream is to ruminate on it, to meditate on it, to simply set it before you and look at it with open-ended curiosity–purposefully refraining from trying to figure it out or make it do or be something in the “real world.” To ponder is to set the dream before God, and in that quiet, sacred space, to simply look at the dream together, and listen and watch as God unfolds it on deeper and deeper levels. Pondering is not something you do with your head. It’s a heart activity (Luke 2:19). It’s about giving a dream room to breath, to shift and grow, to change or expand, without you trying to force it to do any of those things.

Pondering gives time and space for a dream to become fully formed. More importantly, it gives time and space for letting God have access to the dream, and giving Him free reign to speak to or touch or reshape the dream in any way He wishes; or perhaps, simply to breath on it until it is fully alive and strong enough for you to stand on. When the dream is really ready, the path to making it real will become clear as well, and the plan that emerges will feel more like something that came to you as inspiration, rather than something you had to wrestle out in your own strength and wits.

Moving from dream to action without adequate pondering is like sending a baby out into the world and expecting it to act and fend for itself like a full-grown adult. It sets the dream up for failure, and squashes hope in the process.



The struggle to ponder stems from our impatient drive to “get on with it” and “just make it happen,” along with a sneaking suspicion that pondering is really just a waste of time. After all, you already know what you want, so why do you need to ponder it anymore? But the reality is, what you see of a dream at its beginning is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s only about 10 percent of what’s really there. And if you move to action too quickly, you will most likely find you do not really have the resolve or inspiration needed to make it succeed; but even if you do, the end result will only be 10 percent of what you really wanted. You discover the other 90 percent by allowing yourself the time and space you need to simply, openly ponder the dream in your heart.

Pondering is essential to the process of making something real. It is not an optional step. Of course, it is possible to “ponder a dream to death”–that is, to get stuck in dreaming as a way of avoiding the risks associated with taking real action. But I find the compulsive lurch to action is a far more common dream killer for most ministry leaders.

If the dream is worth engaging at all, then its worth taking the time let your heart ponder it–in the unhurried space between the dreaming and the coming true–until the dream is fully formed and resonates with a life and solidity all its own.

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2 Responses to “The Skill of Pondering by Michael Warden”

  1. Christine Kimmel says:


    Thank you for your article. I trained as a coach 3 eyars ago and have been dabbling in it, waiting on the Lord for clear direction. I have lots of ideas and interests, just not sure which to pursue. Your article has reminded me that He will make it clear in His timing and I should do as I am doing now, knocking on doors, listening for His leading, and preparing for His promotion. Thanks again. Christine Kimmel

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