RESET: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture is a compassionate and courageous book. Reading it from “the other side of burnout” gave me much-needed perspective. About five years ago, I began to receive some of the counsel now bound into this book, since David Murray was one of several faithful brothers who began to walk through a deep valley with me.
At the time, Satan had taken advantage of a two-year battle with depression and anxiety triggered by the collision of multiple stress factors. Pressures from every direction would in the next year seem to converge all at once. Perfectionism, over-commitment, escalated church conflict, people-pleasing, family trials, financial burdens, and my own sinful responses would eventually all merge together. Two stress-induced heart attacks would be part of the coming year, and David would be there to help me begin to make some sense of it all.
Now that I’m on the other side, I’m able to see things a bit more clearly. The gracious hand of Providence was over it all, enlightening, correcting, changing, training, and blessing me by initiating a life and ministry reboot that humbles and amazes me. Therefore, reading Reset in this new season was not only instructive of the areas where I continue to need to change and grow (there are many), but it also affirmed some of the progress the Spirit has made in repair and maintenance. As a result, David’s words in the Introduction could have been written by me: “Through painful personal experience…I’ve learned that God has graciously provided a number of ways for us to reset our broken and burned-out lives, and to help us to live grace-paced lives in a burnout culture.”
10 Repair Bays
The structure of Reset follows the analogy of a broken down car brought in for repairs and equipped for ongoing maintenance. Ten chapters minister grace and truth in ten repair bays.
- Reality Check – David advises us to pay attention to warning lights, and gives examples in eight areas: physical, mental, emotional, relational, vocational, moral, relational, and pastoral.
- Review – The second chapter gives us a big-picture look at the limitations of our humanity. “God has given us instructions about how to live as his creatures, as the finite body-and-soul beings he has made us to be. But some of us are trying to live as if we are infinite. It’s hardly surprising that we are breaking down.
- Rest – A brief theology of sleep is given as well as many illustrations of the value of physical rest.
- Recreate – “Is our obsessive work ethic self-defeating? In trying to impress other men with our manly work rate (and pastors are especially susceptible to this), are we destroying our ability to think about our callings, our problems, and our challenges in fresh, clear ways.”
- Relax – “The grace of peace is a vital part of a grace-paced life. We need rest for the body and the mind.”
- Rethink – This chapter counsels the perfectionist.
- Reduce – “Remember, it’s rarely one extra big thing but the addition of lots of little things that tends to overwhelm us, because it is much more difficult to say no to the little things.”
- Refuel – Here is wise, balanced counsel concerning food and medicine.
- Relate – We cannot go it alone. Therefore, it’s essential to carefully maintain our relationships.
- Resurrection – David encourages us to accept the beauty of our new, post-Reset, resurrection from the Lord. “In comparison to our pre-Reset lives, we may feel lazy to be running slower, or we may feel guilty about reducing other commitments and taking breaks to renew our energy.”
Reset is a very personal book. Personal because of the author’s refreshing transparency. And personal because it describes me and reveals how much I need to learn to live a life fueled by grace. Our God is the God who is making all things new and, for this, I praise Him. I’m grateful for the wise, balanced, pastoral counsel contained in Reset and I recommend it to you. Note: Reset is written to men, especially pastors. Crossway has just released a similar title for women, entitled Refresh, written by David’s wife, Shona.