By Christy K.
I am weary with my groaning and have found no rest. Jeremiah 45:3
This is in the opening chapter of “Leading On Empty.” It is so relatable to us as pastors’ wives and for our husbands!
I heard a panel speaking about pastor burnout and empathy fatigue at a North American Christian Conference several years ago and was compelled to buy the book by Wayne Cordeiro.
My husband had been a lead pastor for 27 years, with 18 of those years at the same church.
On our way home from the conference, a 3½ hour drive, I began reading this book to my husband as he drove. With the first chapter, he looked over at me with sad eyes and said “I could’ve written this…” As I continued reading, he kept saying things like “I feel that,” “Oh, I get that…” He identified with almost everything Wayne described from his own burnout.
I’m recommending this book, not so you and your husband can have these same feelings and comments, but to prepare you and help you avoid the disastrous results of burnout and empathy fatigue.
I always like to look at the Table of Contents of books to see what I have to look forward to and the length of the book. Here’s Wayne’s table of contents:
Chapter 1: When the Needle Points to Empty
Chapter 2: Forced to Failure
Chapter 3: Power Perfected in Weakness
Chapter 4: Early Warning Signs
Chapter 5: Solitary Refinement
Chapter 6: Finding the Still Waters
Chapter 7: The New Perspective
Chapter 8: Seven Lessons Hard-Learne
Chapter 9: Finding the Way Back Home
Chapter 10: The Intentional Life
Chapter 11: Finding Solitude in Sabbaticals
What I like the best about Wayne’s writing is he doesn’t just lay out what’s wrong with us (and him) but he provides a roadmap with checkpoints for us to see how we’re doing, based on his experience.
Because of this book, my husband was able to see the bruises on his head from banging it against the same wall for too many years. He was able to recognize his suffering for what it was, the cause of it, and what the solution would be. He was able to explain what was going on with him to our elders in a way that they could understand, and together they came up with a plan for Sabbatical and care for their pastors. Because of this, we were able to find Ron and Rodetta Cook at Care for Pastors and begin the journey of healing.
Again, I do not want you to look at this book and say “THIS IS US!” Instead, I would love for you to read this book and the two of you make the adjustments necessary to AVOID burnout and empathy fatigue. I would love for your husband to share this book with the church leadership so that they can better care for the pastors of your church! As the cover says, “Refilling Your Tank and Renewing Your Passion.”
Healthy pastors love their families better, their churches better, which in turn grows healthy communities that glorify God!