Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture is one of the most helpful Christian-living books I’ve read in a long time. David Murray has experienced burnout in his pastoral life to the point of harming his health. He brings a wealth of wisdom to the subject. Don’t think this book is just for pastors. It’s valuable for everyone who feels worn down and exhausted by life.
Murray structures the book around the concept of taking your car to the garage. Each chapter is a “repair bay.” Murray quotes Brady Boyd from Addicted to Busy, “Ultimately, every problem I see in every person I know is a problem of moving too fast for too long in too many aspects of life.” Murray is not calling for Christians to drop out of service and kick their feet up. He is calling for them to take care of themselves, so that they can serve well.
Do you know anyone who can’t stop working? There’s just too much to do, and it has to get done. How about someone who has trouble sleeping because they just can’t stop thinking? Do you know anyone who has to always have plans, every evening? It’s constant movement. People are constantly on the go. They can’t sit still. They’re adrenaline-drunk and exhausted.
Murray writes in Reset that our busy-ness and burnout is often a theological problem. Murray says that many people’s fundamental and foundational error is we forget a fundamental and foundational truth—God is our Creator. He writes:
Lots of people call God Creator, but live like evolutionists. It’s as if life is about the survival of the fittest rather than about living like a dependent creature—trusting our Creator rather than ourselves—and according to our Maker’s instructions.
Theology of Sleep
Murray discusses how God has given us rest, exercise, and fellowship, all of which slow us down and keep us well. He spends significant time on sleep and rest, mainly because it’s one of the things that people abuse the most. He writes that “there are few things as theological as sleep.” He argues that we preach a sermon to ourselves in regards to sleep. If you’re not getting enough of it because you can’t stop thinking of all you have to do, He writes that you’re preaching the following five points to yourself:
- I don’t trust God with my work, my church, or my family.
- I don’t respect how my Creator has made me.
- I don’t believe that the soul and body are linked.
- I don’t need to demonstrate my rest in Christ.
- I worship idols.
That’s convicting to read, but like all good pastors, Murray is helping us see where we have fallen short and points to Christ. He goes on to give practical advice about how to get better rest, but more importantly he writes:
Ultimately, sleep, like everything else, should lead us to the gospel and the Savior. First, it prompts us to think about death, that we all shall close our eyes in sleep, and wake up in another world (1 Thess.4:14).
It also teaches us about our Savior. The fact that Jesus slept (Mark 4:38) is as profound as “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). It reminds us of Christ’s full humanity, that the Son of God became so frail, so weak, so human that he needed to sleep. What humility! What love! What an example! What a comfort! What a sleeping pill!
Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture is well researched. Murray pulls valuable insight from a variety of sources, but frames it all with scripture and God’s instruction for how we are to take care of ourselves. The metaphors he uses will likely resonate more with men. He has written a follow-up book with his wife called Refresh, which focuses on women. I highly recommend this book. You can get a copy of Reset here. You can pick up a copy of Refresh here.