Learn What Fills Your Tank – and Keep It Filled

Are you trying to lead on an empty tank?

More days than we would like to admit, pastors face the necessity of leading on an empty tank. The ever present needs of the body, the ongoing call to lead our families through challenging or exciting seasons, and the every day mechanics of ministry leadership compound to drain even the healthiest leader. In fact, the question is not will you ever lead from an empty tank, but HOW will you lead from an empty tank. More importantly, what should a Pastor do when that season emerges?

A pastor’s greatest leadership tool is a healthy soul. Our concentration on skill and technique and strategy has resulted in deemphasizing the interior life. The outcome is an increasing number of men and women leading our churches who are emotionally empty and spiritually dry. – Lance Witt

It is time to face the reality that no numeric or other measurable short-term success in ministry can ever offset the long-term consequences of leading from an unhealthy spirit. What do you do when your tank runs dry?


THE QUICK SUMMARY – Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro

In Leading on Empty, Wayne Cordeiro shares his experience of burnout with the hope that it will encourage others headed down the same path. He was able to get back in touch with his life, get back in proper balance, and allow God to reenergize his spirit in a way that propelled him forward to greater levels of service.

Learn from his experience how you can continue a fruitful ministry. Better yet, take advantage of Wayne’s helpful advice early on and avoid burnout altogether. Leading on Empty gives leaders the tools to recognize and overcome burnout, providing them a new vision for greater levels of both rest and productivity.


When your car’s fuel gauge approaches the “Empty” mark, you know it’s time to fill up your tank. The consequences of not paying attention to this gauge usually involve coming to a complete standstill in an inconvenient and unsafe moment. Your car has been specifically designed to run best on a particular type and quality of fuel. From unleaded to diesel to newer petroleum alternatives, there is no substitute for the fuel the engine is built for. Your leadership engine requires the same attention to the fuel gauge and selection of the right fuel type.

What kind of fuel do you need when approaching empty?

One of the best “fuels” for your tank is knowing what your strengths and calling are, and learning how to consistently get back to the core of that calling.

Your soul is like a battery that discharges each time you give live away, and it needs to be recharged regularly.

Eighty-five percent of what we do, anyone can do. These tasks don’t require an elite expertise or specialized skill. Many of these tasks can be delegated to others so we can concentrate on what’s most important to the job we have been given to do.

Ten percent of what we do, someone with a modicum of training should be able to accomplish. With appropriate schooling and experience, someone else can perform a surgery, manage an engineering project, or sell real estate. Certain aspects of these activities can be assigned to trained individuals.

But five percent of what I do, only I can do! This is the most important five percent for me. I can’t delegate these initiatives to anyone else, or hire someone else to take my place. This five percent will determine the validity of the other ninety-five percent. This is what I must discover and make the epicenter of my life.

We often fill our days with the eighty-five percent because it requires so little of us. We then dip into the next ten percent, leaving nothing for the crucial five percent.

If the five percent is compromised, the consequences will be felt in other areas, and you life will grind to a halt until those priorities are restored.

– Wayne, Cordeiro, Leading On Empty


In order to learn what fills your tank, consider leading your team through the Strengths Finder assessment as described in Strengths Finder 2.0 and its supporting online materials (see the links in the Resources section below).

Once you have completed the online assessment, you can receive an assessment guide customized for your top five themes. In addition, the guide will help you build a strengths-based development plan by exploring how your greatest natural talents interact with your skills, knowledge, and experience.

Another important fuel-type discovery could be found within a collaborative and team-centered personality discovery. The Insights process not only speaks into your leadership fuel requirements, but charts your fuel alongside the rest of your team, bringing depth of understanding to how each of member is uniquely gifted to accomplish God’s call for your church. Find out more about the Insights process here.

From living in your strength to understanding your personality, move beyond discovery to development. List 3 immediate steps to take in the next 30 days, in light of your particular leadership strengths or ministry personality, that serve to refuel your leadership engine.


Godly leadership is always inside out. God has and always will choose to smile on men and women who are healthy, holy, & humble. – Lance Witt

By learning what fills your tank, leaders will help themselves and their teams keep a “full” tank and be healthy emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Taken from SUMS Remix 14-2, published May 2015.

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

You can find out more information about SUMS Remix here.

Subscribe to SUMS Remix here.


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