Await the Fullness

influence leadership time with god Mar 28, 2023

Blog by Gem Fadling

Here at Unhurried Living, we like to think of every person as a leader—a person of influence. But what enriches that leadership? What gives it substance?


Alan grew up going to a man-made lake near Sacramento to enjoy boating and water-skiing. What had once been a river that flowed through a valley had, thanks to the building of a dam, become a reservoir able to hold 300 billion gallons of water to benefit and bless the surrounding community.


Bernard of Clairvaux was a twelfth-century French abbot who worked as a reformer of the Cistercian order. I love this ancient word of wisdom he gives about the beauty of being a reservoir:


“The [one] who is wise, therefore, will see his life as more like a reservoir than a canal. The canal simultaneously pours out what it receives; the reservoir retains the water till it is filled, then discharges the overflow without loss to itself. . . . Today there are many in the Church who act like canals, the reservoirs are far too rare. . . . You too must learn to await this fullness before pouring out your gifts, do not try to be more generous than God.”


How does this idea of a reservoir speak to our lives, our influence, our leadership? Consider this description of the life and leadership of Jesus:


“Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:15-16)


The crowd surrounded Jesus as they longed to learn from him and be healed by him. Jesus had a full plate—more full than yours or mine. But no matter how busy Jesus’ life and work became, he often withdrew to pray, to enjoy time alone with the Father. These were his reservoir times.


Jesus listened to the loving voice of the Father, rested in the loving presence of the Father, and became refreshed and filled. There Jesus remembered who he was and what the Father was inviting him to say and do. He speaks of this dynamic in the Gospel of John:


“Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.” (John 5:19-20)


How might we follow Jesus in this reservoir dynamic of life and leadership? How might we learn not only the what of following him but also the how, the why, the way?


We can learn to treasure the goodness God is pouring into us and store it up like a reservoir of abundance out of which we may bless and serve others without becoming empty.


We can make space to let God fill our souls to the brim in relationship with him. This is how Jesus was able to accomplish all that he did. He often withdrew to receive love from the Father, to learn from him.



  • How does the image of the reservoir versus the canal strike you?
  • How might your time with God form in you a reservoir from which you can bless others without loss to yourself?
  • How might your influence be enriched as you continue to be filled with God’s love and presence?


A few years ago, I created a brief video that includes the Bernard of Clairvaux quote and a few reflection questions. Enjoy it HERE.



Photo by Deeva Sood on Unsplash