Running on Empty: Contemplative Spirituality for Overachievers

Running on Empty: Contemplative Spirituality for Overachievers

by Fil Anderson

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Learn to live with God instead of for God.

Sometimes the only way to get a new life is by running your old one completely into the ground.

Fil Anderson had accomplished more for God than most of his contemporaries, but his worn-out body housed an empty soul. His frenetic pace of ministry had earned him just one thing: greater pressure to


Learn to live with God instead of for God.

Sometimes the only way to get a new life is by running your old one completely into the ground.

Fil Anderson had accomplished more for God than most of his contemporaries, but his worn-out body housed an empty soul. His frenetic pace of ministry had earned him just one thing: greater pressure to do even more. He had fallen for the soul-killing lie that doing more for God would give his life meaning. Then the godly admonition of a spiritual director set this burned-out believer on a life-saving spiritual path.

This powerful story of a reawakened soul can be the story of every person who has pursued spiritual productivity over intimacy with God and come up empty. It’s the story of reclaiming your soul and finding a home in the center of God’s relentless love. It’s the journey from self-importance to God-importance.

The solution is not greater achievements for the kingdom of God. It’s time to stop living for God and start living with God.

In this candid and achingly authentic book, Fil Anderson shares the healing insights that restored his spiritual compass and guided him back to God … the God who specializes in filling empty souls.

“To the harried and the unharried, I pray that this book will minister to your heart in the profound way that it has blessed mine.” —Brennan Manning

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Until 15 years ago, Anderson was spinning his wheels in a frenetic attempt to bring others into a deep relationship with God through his work with the evangelical group Young Life, all the while allowing his busyness to sabotage any hope of enjoying his own relationship with God. An encounter with Brennan Manning (who contributes the foreword for this book) reignited Anderson's passion for God and rerouted his spiritual journey, a journey that provides the backdrop for this uneven book. Primarily a memoir, the book weaves in encouragement for others who are plagued by both a hectic life and a shallow view of God. It's highly readable, though repetitive in describing the obstacles to a genuinely satisfying and authentic spiritual life. But what the book suffers from most is a misleading subtitle: Contemplative Spirituality for Overachievers implies practical guidance, but there's little here that might help overachievers incorporate contemplative practices into their lifestyle. Anderson describes a few of those practices, but others, like the foundational practice of living in the moment, are mentioned only briefly, and anecdotally at that. Now executive director of Journey Resources and a spiritual director who trains others to provide spiritual direction, Anderson is in a prime position to write a more focused book that would live up to the promise of this book's subtitle. Let's hope he does. (Feb. 17) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
“Running On Empty is more than a book title; it has become a way of life. But there is another, much better way. Fil Anderson points us to it with grace, thoughtfulness, and style. Read him and be filled again.”
–John Ortberg, author of Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them

“This book is for those who have found it easier to take care of our schedule than to take care of our soul. For the unfortunate majority who keep running because we don’t know how to stop, Fil Anderson provides a compelling roadmap home where we can finally stop and snuggle up in the arms of God.”  
–Michael Yaconelli, author of Messy Spirituality: God’s Annoying Love for Imperfect People and Dangerous Wonder: The Adventure of Childlike Faith

“Fil Anderson invites you to discover the difference between believing that God is love and experiencing the love of God. As the author makes clear, it’s the difference in life and death for your soul.”
–Craig Barnes, author of When God Interrupts

Running on Empty is an oasis for those who allow a life of busyness to drive us toward emptiness. Fil Anderson’s honesty and vulnerability can lead us all toward the One who fills us eternally.”
–Denny Rydberg, president of Young Life

“What a fresh voice Fil Anderson brings to all of us who struggle to be with Jesus, and not just do for him. This book draws me back to the wonder of the gospel–which is the best recommendation I could give any book.”
–Paula Rinehart, author of Strong Women, Soft Hearts and Sex and the Soul of a Woman

“Fil Anderson has written a deeply personal story of his own walk with God. In doing so, he is brave and caring enough to share with us many practical ways to deepen our own walk.”
–Bob Buford, founder of Leadership Network and author of Halftime: Changing Your Game Plan from Success to Significance 

Running on Empty is written by someone who can recognize emptiness because he has known both emptiness and fullness. This book is inspiring and yet practical, anecdotal and yet big-picture, traditional and yet contemporary American. Enjoy its fullness.”
–Richard Rohr, O.F.M., Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, New Mexico

“Unless we learn the lessons in this book, we will dry up in building God’s kingdom. Fil Anderson shows us how to keep our own souls refreshed. A must read for all those in ministry!”
–Rev. John Yates and Susan Alexander Yates, co-authors of Building a Home Full of Grace and Character Matters: Raising Kids with Values That Last

“With simplicity and integrity, Fil Anderson poses questions and offers challenges and possibilities to assist readers in the exploration of their own stories. One gets the sense of Fil, the spiritual director, standing at the door praying for readers as they enter the sacred space of their exploration.”
–Rose Mary Dougherty, SSND, author of Group Spiritual Direction: Community for Discernment, editor of The Experience of Group Spiritual Direction

This book is destined to become a classic for those who are serious about learning to love Christ and wanting to know they are loved by Him.
–Howard Dayton, CEO of Crown Financial Ministries

“If you’re caught in the rat race, at the edge of burnout, or even too busy to notice, Running on Empty offers help and hope. Here is a Christian response to the drivenness of modern American culture, a response that offers both inspiration and down-to-earth wisdom.”
–Gerald May, author of Will and Spirit and Addiction and Grace

Running on Empty offers hope that we can learn to accept the love of God in our brokenness. Our busyness can be quieted and our souls can learn to be at peace in the face of God’s unrestrained love.”
–Devlin Donaldson, The Elevation Group, co-author of Pinocchio Nation

“Fil Anderson provides fellow travelers with practical ideas and tools for walking the journey with and toward Christ. This deeply personal book gives believers like me hope of moving from religious compulsions to a fresh relationship with the Lord.”
–Tom Wilson, president/CEO of Leadership Network

Product Details

The Crown Publishing Group
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Random House
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2 MB

Meet the Author

Fil Anderson is executive director of Journey Resources, based in Greensboro, North Carolina. He’s a frequent speaker at conferences, offers individual spiritual direction, and directs retreats and workshops around the country (for more information, visit A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Fuller Theological Seminary, he also completed the Graduate Program in Spiritual Guidance at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation in Bethesda, Maryland. Fil worked with Young Life for twenty-five years, serving as area director and regional director before becoming national director of training.

From the Hardcover edition.

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