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Leading on Empty: Refilling Your Tank and Renewing Your Passion

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  721 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews
A message of revitalization and encouragement for leaders before they leave the ministry. Wayne Cordeiro, author of Doing Church as a Team, found himself paralyzed by burnout. He had been in ministry for 30 years, and 10 years after founding what is now the largest church in Hawaii, he found himself depleted. Wayne took a season out of his growing ministry to recharge and ...more
Paperback, 215 pages
Published April 1st 2010 by Bethany House Publishers (first published March 1st 2009)
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May 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a timely read for me. Although it is intended for pastors, many of the insights apply equally well to other ministry positions. I discovered early in the book that I am dangerously close to burnout -- this book helped validate my situation and provided a number of useful nuggets to reverse the course I was headed on.
Mar 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all ministers!
It's hard for me to review this book by itself, since I've been reading Anne Jackson's Mad Church Disease at the same time and both books deal with ministerial burnout.

Wayne's is both more personal (we get to see a lot more details about his story & his journey out of burnout/depression) and more specific about steps to take. I think that's probably a function of generational writing styles: Wayne is a mega-church pastor who's a Boomer, while Anne is a Buster.

Anyway, they're both good books
Dave Pettengill
Apr 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Church Staff
Recommended to Dave by: Fellow ministry partner
This book is very helpful for those in the ministry that might be encountering burnout, being a workaholic, or dealing with depression. Mr. Cordeiro is very transparent in what he dealt with during this time of his life and the steps he took to get back to health. Some parts may seem lofty and out of touch for a small/medium size church pastor who does not run networks, travel the U.S. speaking, or have a large church staff but overall I think there are important things to pull from this book so ...more
Heather Hampton
Dec 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is written by a pastor who is highly successful and yet found that he was getting burnt out from all the things he was involved in. This book is written out of the journey that this pastor took in order to reevaluate his life and change things so that he could live a life that really matters to God. This book is a great resource for any pastor or leader that can let their good intentions get in the way of what they are really supposed to be doing.
One of the best books i have read for a pastor who needs to protect his heart so he can lead well for the long haul.
Aug 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirituality
This is a book I'm glad I read when I did and I would recommend it to every pastor, youth leader and church professional I know.
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A great book reminding people, especially pastors, to get back into a Biblical rhythm for life to avoid burnout & finish their life & calling well
Randall Darden
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cordeiro discusses his experiences before, during, and after his fight with burnout. I found this book very helpful. As he was describing what he experienced, I noticed what he described was exactly what I have experienced. I now have the words to express my experience, and an action plan to effectively heal. His transparency through the struggle is heartfelt and inspiring. His action plan to keep from getting back to the place his lifestyle had brought him too is probably the most helpful porti ...more
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really appreciated how vulnerable the author was about his struggles and then consequently the practicality of his message. One of my biggest take-aways was making rest a habit. Taking care of yourself and taking time off is so important for your spiritual, physical, and mental health. It also directed my thoughts to those who work in the church and how I can be supportive and encouraging to those individuals and what caring for pastoral staff can look like.
Werner Fourie
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cordeiro puts forth a wonderful story of loss and redemption. He dispels the lie the Christians are not allowed to be depressed and clearly shows the dangers that Christians must be aware of. There is light at the end of the tunnel. There is restoration at the end of the tunnel. I highly recommend every Christian read this book! ...more
Mike Saunders
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An honest and practical story about burnout. It’s a great book for providing handles in handling and avoiding a burnout. The most important lesson for me stands in the idea of ‘cadence’ and leading to find a sustainable cadence of life.

It’s written for pastors but many of the lessons are transferable to the business world.
Ben Palm
GREAT insight!

This was extremely valuable to me as a pastor - first, to realize I was NOT burnt out. Phew! But also to have things to look for and ways I could guard against possible burnout in the future. Every pastor that’s been in ministry for more than 5 years should read this book!
Matthew Armstrong
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is some really good and helpful stuff in this book. I highlighted more in this one than most. It felt a little scattered at times (but Wayne said in the preface that the book had raw parts) which is why it didn't get 5 stars.

Sean Blacksten
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, practical, easy to follow guidance on how to protect your soul and how to enlist all spiritual resources if you find yourself in a pit. Written from a minister's perspective, but broad enough that anyone could greatly benefit.
J. Scott Samarco
Oct 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great insights

I’ve often wondered how pastors got to a place of burnout... Wayne opens up about his journey and it’s helpful to learn practical ways that will not lead to burnout but instead to longevity in the call God has for each of us.
Matt Pitts
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not the kind of book I would normally have read, but I found it immensely helpful, encouraging, and timely.
Karen Murano
Anyone serving in ministry must read this!
Jimmy Reagan
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes a book is worth three times more at a certain season of your life than at any other. It might not be your need at this time. On the other hand, it might be soon. I recommend every pastor, and really any leader, have this book on the shelf. For perspective, I read over half of this book at a tough time for me, and then read the other half later when things were so much better for me. I can recommend it from both angles.

Mr. Cordeiro, a pastor of a thriving, large church, hit bottom. He s
Aug 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
A great book looking at the causes, signs, long term treatment, and preventative measures to prevent burnout when working in ministry.(view spoiler) ...more
Dec 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is for anyone in ministry who just feels out of gas. It's about refilling your tank and renewing your passion for ministry. Some of my favorite thoughts in the book were...

"Suffering will change us, but not necessarily for the better. We have to choose that"

"It is a gift to be able to launch an inspiring vision. But unless you manage it along the way, it can turn on you, and soon the voracious appetite of the vision consumes you"

"Those who vocation is all about giving out are wearing o
I've always struggled with evaluating books that fall into the broad "self-help" or "leadership" categories. To be quite honest, I don't really like most books in this category. I feel guilty for admitting that because, as a minister, leadership and self-improvement should be pretty high on my priority list, right?

This book, though, has shown me a new way to value this literature as part of my personal formation. What Wayne Cordeiro does, and does so well, is to open up a window into his own ex
Joey Reed
This book is technically for pastors. But since it deals with burnout and the lack of energy that so many pastors face, laity should read this book as well. When a family member develops cancer or diabetes, his or her family come together to support him or her. My mother became an expert on many facets of diabetes throughout my dad's illness. My wife became an expert on supporting me throughout the difficult moments of my ministry.

From an Amazon customer review: "Wayne's book is both practical a
Michael Locklear
I was encouraged by the honesty and transparency of the author. Pastor Wayne states that "we must discover and discern the top 5 percent of life," which is your faith, marriage, family, ministry and health.
He challenges you to focus on the priorities of each day, those must receive our time and energy. He lists his "seven bursts of daily energy" -
1. daily devotions
2. message preparation
3-5. areas of ministry (Pastoring and Leading)
6. marriage and family
7. self
Towards the end of the bo
Tommy Kiedis
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Leading on Empty is a "must read" for pastors . . . but also for anyone who is intent on staying in the game (and loving it) for the long haul. If you've watched Wayne's talk at the Willow Creek Association Global Leadership Summit this is far more than just an expanded talk. Outstanding resource.

Six reasons I gave this five stars:

1. Wayne shares his struggle and helps us see historically the struggle that many great people of God have had with burnout and depression. Pages 44-50
2. Warning signs
Oct 20, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leadership
There are a few helpful things in this book, but the view of the pastorate is atrocious: "The constant expectation to come up with yet another inspiring message wears you out. It depletes your emotional system, reducing your ability to stay balanced. Long term stress is not detectable in the beginning...." The devastating thing is that a pastor I sort of respect recommended it. Cordeiro seems to forget that he, like mot of us happy American pastors, are not like Jeremiah who actually lived in a ...more
May 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I truly needed and enjoyed this book. It is written from a pastoral experience but contains basic information about burnout, depression, and other maladies that can affect one's well-being in ministry or really, any other profession. It came at a time in my own life when I needed this and I have already implemented some of the recommendations the author noted throughout "Leading on Empty." It's a simple manual - in no way highly technical. But it is effective because it's written in English with ...more
Florence Millo
Jan 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro

I hadn't anticipated getting much out of this book. After all it was written for ministers and leaders who were burned out. I am neither a minister nor a leader. But to my surprise, his description of what he went through was a very close description of what led me to retire from my career as a pharmacist. Physical, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion. I was pleased that he gently but firmly described the steps that he took and recommends for people who are just
Nov 07, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, biographies
Wished I'd read this before buying copies for our senior staff to read. Frankly, after several well-known bloggers recommended it as an important read in 2009, I was pretty disappointed with the overly simplistic nature of the content. Clear, perhaps. Helpful and encouraging, not so much.

Pastor Wayne Cordeiro writes candidly about his burnout and recovery. Yet, the tone seemed a little patronizing. Few have the luxury, like Cordeiro, of taking a long sabbatical, knowing that income and job are
Sep 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I felt like I was reading a book about myself as I read this Wayne's story of his journey from burnout back to intentional, passionate living. Just as his journey has taken years, so have mine. The steps that he outlines as he shares his road to recovery were strikingly familiar to me because they work. I find it interesting that I found this book four years after I've taken my own journey. For those that find themselves leading on empty - take this book to heart as it my very well save your lif ...more
Jan 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read several books on how to lead in the midst of burnout. Most books give you simplistic advice like "think happy thoughts and it will all be better" or (more common) "flee from the stresses in your life (quit your job, leave your relationship, simply run from your problems.) This book was written with raw and honest emotion and practical advice from someone who has successfully moved through burnout while leading people that still needed him emotionally and as a workplace leader. I've als ...more
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“Solitude is a chosen separation for refining your soul. Isolation is what you crave when you neglect the first.” 111 likes
“We don't forget that we are Christians. We forget that we are human, and that one oversight alone can debilitate the potential of our future.” 8 likes
More quotes…