Have you ever felt like you just didn’t have anything to give? To your husband, children or even to your church? Have you ever felt burned out and felt like moving to remote island and spending the rest of your days away from the hustle and bustle of life? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then Wayne Cordeiro’s Leading on Empty is the book for you.
Cordeiro addresses burnout in pastoral ministry and provides some practical insights into why burnout happens so frequently, how pastors can recognize the signs of burnout and what they can do to prevent it in the future. He also talks about his battle with depression, how it contributes to burnout, and how to recognize the symptoms. I know what you’re thinking. What does a book about burnout in ministry have to do with me? I’m a stay-at-home mom. Well, as wives and mothers, we, too, can experience burnout. I don’t know about you, but there are some days when I don’t have the motivation to do the laundry, cook any meals, or do anything mentally stimulating with my son. There are days when I want to pull the covers over my head and retreat from the demands of life. Cordeiro defines this behavior as burnout.
A couple of things that I found helpful in the book are recognizing the signs of depression, which include a sense of hopelessness, frequent tears, difficulty concentrating, tough time making decisions, irritability, insomnia, lowered activity levels, feeling alone and lack of marital attraction. Another helpful chapter was when Cordeiro talked about focusing on what matters the most. In chapter 5, he says, “Eighty-five percent of what we do, anyone can do: checking e-mail, answering messages, attending meetings, reading the newspaper or trade journals, and making simple decisions. These tasks don’t require an elite expertise or specialized skill.” He goes on to say, “Ten percent of what we do, someone with a modicum of training should be able to accomplish. But 5 percent of what I do, only I can do! This is the most important 5 percent for me. I can’t delegate these initiatives to anyone else. I can’t hire someone to take my place in any of these activities because they require that I be there!” Everyone’s 5 percent is different, but the 5 percent is what God holds us accountable for. Wow! This statement really helped me think about the 5 percent that God holds me accountable for and how I need to reprioritize my life so that I can accomplish those things. Cordeiro says that once we prioritize the 5 percent then decision making about the 95 percent won’t be so hard.
If you’re feeling burned out, I definitely recommend you read this book. I couldn’t put it down once I started thumbing through it. I have a feeling that you won’t be able to put it down either.