Overcoming an Empty Tank

How do you lead when you don’t feel like leading? How do you lead when you’re going through a season of burnout? 

“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.” (Wayne Cordeiro) Have you ever been driving down the highway towards a beautiful destination when you suddenly look down at your gas meter to find you’re on empty? What makes it worst is that a gas station is no where in sight. In this case, the road to success and the road to a nervous break down are one and the same.

I believe that we all have experienced a time in our lives that we realized the path that once gave us joy is also the same path that has led to suffering. Maybe it was a job? A relationship? A circumstance? Whatever the path, I want to share with you a few steps to help you lead effectively, even when you’re on empty.

1. Be truthful with yourself and realize “you’re on EMPTY.”

Jeremiah 45:3 says, “I am weary with my groaning and have found no rest.”

Most of us have developed the discipline of image management. You know, you’re having a meltdown on the inside, but on the surface, you’re doing “great.” Scripture teaches us in John 8:32, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” It is when you’re truthful with God, yourself, and those around you that you truly begin to experience freedom.

Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck. Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire; I can’t find a foothold. I am in deep water, and the floods overwhelm me. – Psalm 69:1-2

2. Reach Out

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. – Matthew 14:29-31

Rather than spending all of your energy attempting on your ability to stay afloat; reach out to the one who hold your head above the waters! Isaiah 43:2-3 says,

“When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you…For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior”

There will come a time in life where your feel burnout. You will feel like there’s nothing else you can do. And to your credit, you’re probably right. When you’re stuck in this position, just cling to the promise that God is with you and He will make a way!

3. Look for the opportunity

While experiencing a season of life on empty is often overwhelming and even depressing, I want you to start looking for the opportunities. You’re not the only one who has battled feelings of depression, loneliness, pain, restlessness, etc. In fact, there are many example throughout Scripture of men and women who struggled. Jeremiah wished he’s never been born. Moses asked God to blot him out of the Book of Life. Jonah said that for him, death was better than life. Job struggled throughout the entire book that bears his name. Even Jesus was in great despair during his time of intense prayer in the garden of Gesthsemane.

Charles Spurgeon actually viewed his struggles as a way to minister to other more effectively. He said, “I would go into deeps a hundred times to cheer a downcast spirit. It is good for me to have been afflicted, that I might know how to speak a word in season to one that is weary.” 

I believe that if one begins to follow these steps while their tank is on empty, they will soon begin to realize that their tank has been refueled and they are back on track to pursue their once-intended destination.


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