Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture [Book Review]
Author: David Murray
Reviewed by OP Elder and former CMC member, Matt Miner
Date submitted: February 19 2020
David Murray begins Reset with an argument for pacing in the Christian life. Murray zeroes in on “Christian men in general, [and]… Christian ministry leaders in particular.” He notes these same men often grapple with outsize family demands alongside their work in the church.
The Lord knows the number of our days and ordains the physical and mental health we enjoy in this fallen world. But God brings these things about through means. Murray is on a mission to apply the gospel of our salvation to the how and what of daily living for Christian men serving in the church. Through the book Murray proffers fruitful wisdom and relationship-strengthening, life-saving advice.
Murray counsels from experience. He opens with the story of his diagnosis of “multiple blood clots in both lungs.” These emboli turned up on the heels of “two other [recent] health issues, one of which…culminated in a major operation,” – all this shortly after a dramatic near-miss in an automobile accident on an icy road! Murray muses, “Did these providences give me pause? Not for long. That’s why blood clots were required. God’s message to me, through my blood, was: ‘Stop!’”
In Reset, Pastor Murray “challenges [the reader] to take stock of [his] life” and quotes author J.R. Briggs that “self-care is the first step in caring for others, for loving your neighbor as yourself.” This is consonant with Paul in 1 Timothy 5 or Titus 1: You can’t serve well in the church if your family life is in shambles. And you can’t serve well in the church or your family without Christ-centered self-care.
Murray structures his book around an automobile repair and maintenance trope: He draws on the Sabbath principle to describe a routine of preventive maintenance for our bodies and souls. Murray contrasts obedience to God’s command to rest with disregard for the Sabbath, leading at best to costly repairs and at worst to landing ourselves in the ditch.
Dr. Murray serves up the meat of the book with a self-diagnostic quiz about physical, mental, emotional, relational, vocational, moral, spiritual, and pastoral warning lights that demonstrate the need for attention in that area. Reset is practical in recommending specific steps. Murray interacts comfortably with authors outside our own tradition (there’s a quote from Ariana Huffington!) and comments from disciplines outside theology, including medicine, psychology, and both the hard and social sciences. But the book remains rooted in the gospel, concluding with a chapter called Resurrection, about the newness that is ours in Christ.
This Christ-centered approach is of utmost importance in a book that could be read as self-helpy. Reading a theologian of Dr. Murray’s stature and experience, I would have welcomed even more discussion of God’s word connected to the topic, but as written, the book is concise, which is useful. When helping pastors and elders reset their lives, 206 pages is preferable to six hundred! The paperback
is a terrific option for note taking and highlighting, but the Audible version read by Dr. Murray is excellent –In the Audible version Murray’s love for the topic and for men in the church comes through in his voice. This was a blessing to me – and you can share the book with your wife in the car! Reset is highly recommended.
Book Name: Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture (206 pages)
Author: David Murray
Available on Amazon: $11.46