Chapter One: When the Needle Points to Empty


"I am weary with my groaning and have found no rest." —Jeremiah 45:3


Not long ago I was asked to meet with two dozen of the nation's brightest and best emerging church leaders through a wonderful organization led by Bob Buford called The Leadership Network. The men who gathered were all around forty years old with congregations over 3,000. Larry Osborne of North Coast Church and I were the supposed white-haired veterans from whom these young leaders could extract wisdom. (I hope they didn't pay much for this conference!) Nevertheless, we interacted and shared what we could.


On the second day, conference organizers asked these young leaders a question that caught many of them (and me, too) off guard.


What do you fear the most?


As they each took turns answering, tears began to flow freely and several couldn't finish their sentences. One admitted that he didn't know how much longer his marriage could sustain the pressures. But it was another leader's answer that grabbed my attention.


His greatest fear? "I just don't want my kids growing up hating God because of me."


Observing the lives of many of these forty-something leaders, I saw the unmistakable signs of burnout already emerging.


When the signs of burnout appear, it's time for a break.


A mother with children in diapers doesn't have the option of leaving her babies to fly to Hawaii to get a break from the late-night feedings. The captain of a football team can't decide to stay home from a strategic game simply because he wants to finish watching his favorite rerun. And neither can a pastor of a growing church cash in on a last-minute half-price deal for a Caribbean cruise.


As a senior pastor, my life was book-ended with weekend services. I had developed the discipline of image management, but I was slowly collapsing on the inside. A slow-motion implosion.


Pastors are expected to lead even when our desire or inclination to do so is severely challenged. I knew that others loved me, but the great expectations which had systemically ingrained themselves into the fabric of who I was became the person I could not escape.


How do you lead on empty? How do you continue when you don't feel like being in front anymore?

Leading on Empty: Refilling Your Tank and Renewing Your Passion

Copyright © 2009 by Wayne Cordeiro
Published by Bethany House Publishing, a division of Baker Publishing Group 
PO Box 6287 Grand Rapids MI 49516-6287

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