Are You Running on Empty?

Pouring OutI was having a cup of coffee with a good friend the other day. He is a fellow small group leader in Cross Point’s young adult community; Stretch. The job he does pouring into and leading his small group members is simply amazing. He is one of the most encouraging people I know.

This friend had just had a rough day at work and was venting about his struggles and frustrations. It seemed like he was at the end of his rope. I’ll spare you all the details, but at one point I asked him, “Who’s pouring into you? Who’s directly investing in your life in the same way that you do with others?”


Later on, this exchange got me thinking. As leaders, we spend so much time investing in other people’s lives. We challenge people to grow, walk with them through their problems, and share in their joy and suffering. That’s what we do.

We are constantly pouring out for these people in hopes of helping them grow. It is the essence of servant leadership and is necessary, but takes an enormous emotional toll. We are constantly making withdrawals from our bank of spiritual and emotional energy.

If we don’t take the time to intentionally make deposits into that account, we’ll find ourselves overdrawn; a.k.a. burnt out and over-extended. It’d be like trying to drive across Tennessee with your gas needle on ‘E.’ I promise you won’t get very far.

I can’t express in words how important it is to find people who can speak words of truth and encouragement into your life. I don’t care how high up the corporate ladder you are; this is an absolute necessity. If you continue to pour into people without having anyone to pour into you, you’ll find yourself empty and frustrated.

In addition to a solid group of people, go and find the activities that fill your proverbial tank. I spend nearly all of my days working with people, hearing about their problems, and helping them find solutions. By the end of the day, I am emotionally spent and spending time with more people is not always the answer.

It’s ok to be a social recluse every once in a while.

Here are the activities that help me recharge:

  • Prayer
  • Bible study
  • Sleep
  • Writing
  • A little mindless TV watching
  • Reading (Christian, Business, Marketing, Finance, Technology, Blogs…)

The people you live life with and the activities in which you choose to participate will look different for each and every reader. Take an honest look at your life. Make sure that you’ve put the necessary things in place to feed you spiritually and emotionally so that you can continue to be the leader whom God has blessed you to be.

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9 Responses to Are You Running on Empty?

  1. tracee December 16, 2010 at 8:08 am #

    Great truth friend!! I so need someone’s pouring in me. I love pouring into others. I forget to recharge. I wonder why I get so tired and emotional. Reading and sleeping has been great lately!

    • Kenny Silva December 16, 2010 at 4:20 pm #

      Even Jesus had to retreat to a quiet place to pray and recuperate on several occasions. If we're to lead like Him, we need to follow His example and give ourselves time to recharge. Keep on encouraging and loving others. Just do it sustainably. 🙂

  2. Kyle Reed December 16, 2010 at 9:51 am #

    Its easy to get caught up in doing your thing, working with others, and even caring for others, but before you know it you have nothing left to give because you have not put anything in for yourself to give out.
    Great reminder Kenny.
    I think a lot of it for me is to have a pace and be intentional about taking time away.

    • Kenny Silva December 16, 2010 at 4:21 pm #

      It's all about being intentional, Kyle. Sometimes without even knowing it, I'll give my entire day away without thinking about how that's going to affect me physically, mentally, and emotionally. It's all about finding rhythm. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. @heartcures December 16, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

    Another very wise post, Kenny.
    I highly recommend the book "Leading on Empty" and need to read it again myself.
    I'm doing many of the other things you recommended. And I have in many ways spent time as a "social recluse." It works.
    It can be very difficul to "find" someone willing to make deposits instead of withdrawls. I've been praying for quite some awhile that God will send such a person. Thankfully my husband is wonderful in this regard but we both minister constantly. Sometimes on fumes.

    • Kenny Silva December 16, 2010 at 4:24 pm #

      Thanks for reading today, Melinda. I'll pray for you to find that person or those people as well. To you and your husband, please be careful not to over-extend yourselves. You've got to be intentional about setting time apart for yourselves to recharge and simply be. Family has to come first, or else you'll find your home life in shambles and your life and ministry will suffer greatly.

  4. Joey Strawn December 16, 2010 at 3:59 pm #

    Thanks for writing this Kenny. Sometimes it's tough to find motivation, but you are so right about finding sources of hope and inspiration in your life. A lot of my time I feel like I'm running on empty with everything that I take on, but I'm lucky enough to have a great support community around me and they are truly the ones that keep me going.

    Let me know if you ever need some encouraging words, you're doing some awesome things.

    • Kenny Silva December 16, 2010 at 4:25 pm #

      Thanks, Joey. Right back at you, my friend. I see you building some amazing things and I'm praying for you to have the strength to see it through to the end. I can't wait to see you blow up next year (which I'm sure you will.)

  5. Katie Axelson September 29, 2011 at 3:51 am #

    This is way too common of a problem in today’s society. Yet I can see how it happens.

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