Leading on Empty, by Wayne Cordeiro, pastor of New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu, is a book about ministry burnout.  It chronicles Cordeiro’s journey through burnout and what he learned on the roach to recovery

For the most part, the book is helpful.  The book gave me some road markers to watch for in the future.  Two of the more helpful chapters were on depression.  It was scary to read actually, because I’d be willing to bet that most people would be lying if they said they didn’t experience most of the symptoms at varying times throughout a normal year!

One of the underlying themes of the book was simply to have our priorities in order.  This seems easy enough, but how often do we forget our priorities?  Cordeiro asks the reader to do an exercise to narrow down the essentials of life.  He says to list what the most important five percent of your life is.  This could be anything.  He lists things like his relationship with Jesus, his wife and kids, and pleasing God with his ministry.  “We won’t be held accountable for how much we have done,” he writes, “but for how much we have done of what He has asked us to do” (p. 79).

Later, he asks the reader to write down a handful of things that drains you and fuels you — whatever they are.  He says, “Your soul is like a battery that discharges each time you give life away, and it needs to be recharged regularly” (p. 88).  I found this helpful to re-discover what I really enjoy doing.

The only criticism I have is that the book can sometimes have a self-helpish feel.  Cordeiro says that it isn’t a self-help book, but at times he’ll write something like this: “Your greatest source of motivation is finding untapped potential yet within you.  You see, your future is not what lies ahead of you.  It’s what lies within you” (p. 205).  Out of context, that looks like a Joel Osteen sermon quote.  In the larger context of the book, the reader will know that Cordeiro believes that the gospel is our only healing power — that a vibrant, growing relationship with Jesus is our only hope.  However, sometimes he fails to go far enough in being absolutely clear that this is what he means.  As a Christian reading a Christian book, I know what he means.  But will it be absolutely evident to other Christians?  I don’t know.  Our potential is within us, yes, but it’s in us only by God’s power.  Outside of the gospel we have no real potential.

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3 thoughts on “Leading on Empty Review

  1. Hmmm? Senior Pastor? Leader?

    Is that in the Bible?

    Is it possible the reason “Burnout” is such
    a problem for **today’s** “Pastor/Leader” is
    they have found themselves with a
    “Title” and “Position” NOT found in the Bible?

    Did anyone have the “Title” “pastor” in the Bible?
    Was anyone ordained a “pastor” in the Bible?
    Any congregations “led” by a “pastor” in the Bible?

    And every “pastor” I’ve met also had
    the “Title” “Reverend.”

    Does anyone have the “Title” Reverend in the Bible?

    In my experience…

    Titles become Idols.
    Pastors become Masters.

    Heavy weights on shoulders NOT easy to lay down.

    Jesus taught “His Disciples”
    NOT to be called “Master/Leader”
    For you have “ONE” “Master/Leader” The Christ.
    Mat 23:8-10 KJV

    Ezekiel 14:1-7, speaks about “Idols of the Heart,”
    and now God will speak to us according to
    the “Idols of our Heart.”

    And other sheep I have,
    which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring,
    and they shall “hear my voice;”
    and there shall be “ONE” fold,
    and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice.
    If Not Now, When?

    Be blessed in your search for Truth… Jesus.

    1. Ephesians 4:11 “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers.”

      I agree that the title can become an idol, but to say that it’s not biblical is a stretch. Pastors need to lead from a position of humility and understanding that the are called to serve God and love him whole heartedly. The task of a Pastor is to follow Jesus. Burnout happens when we follow man instead of following Jesus.

  2. Caleb

    You write…
    “I agree that the title can become an idol, but to say that it’s not biblical is a stretch..”

    Well, You’re correct in one way – the “Word” pastors is in Eph 4:11.

    BUT – Haven’t “YOU” ever wondered…Why – In the Bible – There is NOT one
    Paid – Professional – Pastor – in a Pulpit – Preaching – to People – in Pews?

    I now recommend, for anyone desireing this “Title/Position” “Pastor/Leader”
    to search the scriptures for themselves.

    And ask a few questions as they search…
    In the Bible – How many of His Disciples – Are “Called” – Pastor/Leader?
    In the Bible – How many of His Disciples – “Call themself” – Pastor/Leader?
    In the Bible – How many of His Disciples – Have the “Title” – Pastor/Leader?
    In the Bible – How many of His Disciples – Hired or Fired – as a – Pastor/Leader?

    And – In Mat 23:8, Jesus says, there is only “ONE” teacher – the Christ.

    Why isn’t what Jesus said – important? ;-)

    Paul says, when you come together – each one – has a Psalm – a Hymn – a teaching…
    When you come together ALL can, and are expected to Particapate. 1 Cor 14:26.

    IMO – Pastors – in Pulpits – Prevent – People – from Participating…
    Promoting Pew Potatoes.

    Jesus, as man, made himself of no reputation, took upon him the form of a servant,
    and was made in the likeness of men… he humbled himself… (Phil 2:7-8)

    If I’m known as “Pastor”“Lead Pastor” or “Senior Pastor?”
    Isn’t that having a reputation?

    If I tell people I’m a “Pastor”“Lead Pastor” or “Senior Pastor?
    Is that honoring myself? Jn 8:54
    Is that “seeking my own glory?” Jn 7:18. Jn 8:50.

    Isn’t Jesus the only one in the Bible with the “Title” Shepherd?

    What is popular is NOT always “Truth.”
    What is “Truth” is NOT always popular.

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