Leading on Empty: Refilling Your Tank and Renewing Your Passion – #BookReview

leading on emptyI first read Wayne Cordeiro’s book Leading on Empty four years ago when I was on a sabbatical at Genesee Home retreat center in California with my wife Liza. At that time, I enjoyed the book, although most of it was theoretical and dealing with issues I hadn’t really personally experienced in my life and ministry at that time. In November 2009, I had been in ministry for 17 years, only three of which were at my current assignment as lead pastor at Beausejour Community Church.

However, when I picked up the book to read it this past week, it was exactly what I needed to read – a breath of fresh air after the most challenging year of ministry I have ever had in my life. In this book, Foursquare Pastor Wayne Cordeiro candidly shares his experience with burnout. And although I don’t believe I’m there in my life, this is probably the closest I’ve ever been. In my humble opinion, this book is a must-read for all leaders. I strongly recommend it to any church leader, pastor, minister or missionary. Here are some of the quotes from this book that impacted me personally…

“Pastors are expected to lead even when the desire or inclination to do so is severely challenged… How do you lead on empty? How do you continue when you don’t feel like being “on stage” anymore?”

“Slowly, the unwelcome symptoms began to surface. Ministry became more arduous. My daily tasks seems unending, and e-mails began to stack up. People I deeply cared about became problems to be avoided, and deliberating about new vision no longer stirred my soul.”

“I have found that after about twenty years, pastors of growing churches need to take a sabbatical because, like me, their serotonin levels are depleted.”

“Depression takes the place of initiative; your indecision and anxiety increases. You begin to feel a greater need for aloneness and isolation.”

“The only way to finish strong will be to first replenish your system. If you don’t, prepare for a crash.”

“To finish strong, you must learn to rejuvenate your spirit early in your ministry. most of the people in our churches have no idea how demanding ministry can be or even how demanding they can be.”

“Silence and solitude can renew and replenish a soul in drought, and it refreshed me.”

“Your future will oftentimes be held “in trust” within the simplicity of a daily walk with God. The discovery of hidden potential will be gently pressed within the pages of His Word. Even though the way before you may be foggy or dim, the path beneath you will be illuminated by a warm and steady light.”

“Often burnout doesn’t arrive alone. One unlikely twin (for me) that accompanied my season of burnout was depression.”

“It was a season that compelled me into a winter wilderness that gave birth to a springtime of new growth that would refill my tank and renew my passion.”

“Each of us has an internal emotional reservoir. on the topside, there’s an input, and on the bottom, a drain. Certain activities will drain you more than will you, and others will fill you more than drain you. Some tasks will contribute to you and others will take from you. When I speak and teach, it fills my tank. When I counsel, it drains my tank.”

“In a sense, a pastor never punches out. What I do is who I am, and who I am is inextricably connected to what I do. I am a shepherd. It wasn’t something I chose as a business profession. It was something I could not escape!”

“When we are depressed, we often withdraw into ourselves, shutting everyone and everything out. That’s one option. But it isn’t the best one. We can also allow our depression to draw us nearer to God.”

“The very nature of the healing process will require that you disclose your feelings and inward pain.”

“After seven years of consistent ministry, take a three-month sabbatical to renew your hunger.”

“There will likewise be seasons when a sabbatical, or an extended season of rest, becomes crucial to sustaining the shelf life of a minister or Christian leader.”

* * *

Many of those quotes stood out and impacted me because they so describe what I have experienced over this past year. I am happy to report though that this past week, I have been experiencing a spiritual refreshing and renewal in the Lord, and He is restoring to me the joy of His salvation. I have a fresh excitement and passion about life and ministry, and all of the new things the Lord is going to do in and through me, my family, and our church in this coming new year. So get ready, get refreshed and seek the Lord with me!


About Chris Jordan

Husband. Father. Author. Pastor. High School Bible Teacher. Follower of Jesus. And I enjoy a good cup of coffee!
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