By Debbie DiVirgillio from Faith Based Non-profit Resource Center

As we head into the last couple of weeks of the year, I want to talk with you about the level of fuel in your tank. Sometimes, as we work to serve others and get “everything” done, we forget that our tanks need to be re-fueled as well. And, just like our cars do not run on empty, we can’t run on empty either.

Unfortunately, we often don’t realize we are running on empty until it is too late—we crash, we explode or our bodies just stop working.

We can’t live and serve others out of an empty soul.

Perhaps you have some time off over the next few weeks, time that can be spent reflecting and developing a plan for re-adjusting so that your soul is fed and nourished. Below are some strategies to help you from hitting a hard wall that threatens to undermine the very work God has called you to.

First, take regular Sabbath pauses or rests. God did not create us to continue on and on with no breaks. Instead, he gave us a day of rest. But, how many of us work right through our day of rest, trying to get caught up or ahead for the week ahead? What if we scheduled a weekly Sabbath pause into our weekly calendar?

Look for messages from God in the encounters you have with others and in your daily living. I believe that God sends us his wisdom and sense of discernment in various messages, but too often we are just too busy to listen. When do you need to stop and listen to the messages God is sending you?

Identify a group of “safe” people in your life that you can share your heart with. As a ministry or nonprofit leader, it can be scary and a bit dangerous to share your innermost thoughts and fears with others, but doing so will give you a group that will both encourage you and hold you accountable. Who needs to be in your “safe” circle of friends?

Read God’s word on a daily basis. Many leaders do not take the time to read and study God’s word on a daily basis. We can see God’s heart through his words in the Bible. We see the times when he celebrated and the times when his heart was broken. And, through his words, we get re-fueled. When was the last time you spent time with God in his Word?

Include discipline in your life. As we get really busy or are going through a stressful period, it becomes easy to skip our exercise routine and eat foods that we normally would not eat. Unfortunately, what we think soothes our soul actually drains our tank even more. Plan your meals ahead of time and include regular exercise into your schedule. What disciplines have you been skipping that need to come back into your life?

Each of these strategies seem so simple, but I know that as you give and give and give they become harder and harder to fit in. But, it is really true, you can’t give when you haven’t been fueled. We can all operate on empty for a while, but sooner or later, it will catch up with you.

Over the next few weeks, take some time to develop a plan to keep your body, mind and soul fueled so you can give your best to the work God has called you to do.