David Murray is a man who knows first-hand the negative effects of burnout in our fast-paced culture. Like myself Murray has experienced some severe and at times debilitating physical illnesses that have forced him to examine the pace and rhythms of his life. While I’ve been wrestling with intestinal and psychological ailments, Murray experienced blood clots in his lungs. Reset is the culmination of lessons David Murray has learned through personal experience as well as through helping other people learn to live a grace paced life in a burnout culture. Each of the ten chapters are presented as a different garage or “repair bay” to be more exact.
Repair Bay 1: Reality Check is where the reader is taken through Murray’s story to see how he came to his own reality check. Through his health issues (blood clots mentioned above) Murray realized God was using his physical ailments as a wakeup call to the jam-packed life pace he’d been living. Like a visit to the doctor’s office RB1 functions as the probing questions meant to diagnose the level of burnout the reader may be experiencing.
Repair Bay 2: Review is a continuation of RB1. Where RB1 is meant to assess the damage and level of burnout one is experiencing, RB2 is to reflect on how you got there. The primary lens’ looked through to diagnose causes are life situation and lifestyle.
Repair bay 3: Rest is an entire chapter dedicated to sleep. I was a bit taken aback after doing some serious internal examination in chapters 1-2. After some honest heart processing I was ready to start taking steps to create some grace based rhythms, and the first thing out the gate was, “how are you sleeping?” Really?! You want to talk about sleeping?! Something I found interesting in the chapter was, “Studies show that a lack of sleep depletes and weakens the brain’s self-control center, leading to higher levels of unethical behavior.” (p. 60) Basically, if you want to better fight off sin and temptation make sure you get your zzz’s.
Repair bay 4: Re-create is focused on recreation and creating a regular rhythm of engaging in physical activity. According to research, “Exercise and proper rest patterns generate about a 20 percent energy increase in an average day, while exercising three to five times a week is about as effective as antidepressants for mild to moderate depression.” (p 79)
Repair bay 5: Relax dives into the role relaxation plays in the grace paced life. Murray advocates for everything from two minutes of silence, practicing relaxation techniques (he also gives fair warning about researching techniques and the mysticism to be watchful of), taking long deep breaths (did you know apple watch has an app to help with this?), and intentional reading time.
Repair Bay 6: Rethink wrestles with how the reader identifies themselves. At their core our identities either become self-fulfilling prophecies that hold us back, or they can be used as fuel to serve us as we find out identity in Christ.
Repair Bay 7: Reduce walks the reader through identifying and setting four life “purposes” and then creating rhythms to live them out. The two biggest takeaways here were the benefit of routine and learning to say “no.” Murray brings up another great self-care point when he says, “Closing the door on some things is not selfish, but is a matter of self-care that ultimately helps us serve God and others better.” (p. 139) Essentially, learning to say no reminds us that we are not God, and that we must be our first line of defense in avoiding burnout.
Repair Bay 8: Refuel discusses the role food and diet, and medications (if needed) play. This is the most dedicated section on mental disorders, but it is only about five pages long.
Repair Bay 9: Relate takes on the role of relationships. The two primary relationships are our relationship and priority of time with God, and our need to decisively choose to cultivate intentional relationships.
Repair Bay 10: Resurrection casts a vision of what a grace paced life can look like. I really appreciate and have taken to heart Murray’s words in this chapter, “Healthy leaders accept their limits because when we look to Jesus, we see the ultimate limitation-God becoming flesh and blood to bring us spiritual rescue.” (p. 190)
Let me be clear from the onset this book is invaluable precisely because it is incredibly practical. The three primary strengths of the book are its practicality, its use of processing questions, and balance between popular level reading and more research “heady” information.
From the opening chapter Murray’s use of his own experiences and processing questions set the stage for a book that is timely and abundantly useful for anyone experiencing burnout. Especially in our own day and age where people constantly live lives consumed with FOMO (fear of missing out) and the constant pressure to be doing something. The idea of slow down, take a breath, process, and plan is all but a lost art in our current day and culture. Murray helps lay a solid foundation to regain the skills necessary to develop a grace paced life.
Furthermore, Reset takes a wealth of research and data and is able to present it in a very popular level, easy to understand and digest way. From the value of sleep, to the benefits of physical activity, and our need to have goals we use to dedicate our time and limit ourselves for better self-care, Reset presents this content in a way that is easy to process and apply.
Finally, Reset is useful for anyone experiencing major symptoms of burnout. Especially Christian men who are overwhelmed with their career or new life stage. Reset is also an invaluable resource for pastors. Specifically Repair Bay 1: Reality Check, and Repair Bay 7: Rethink. Reality check will help pastors tremendously by giving us a tool to diagnose and catch when we are entering burnout. Rethink is a great chapter that reminds pastors that we cannot be everything to everyone, only Jesus can do that. For us, we are here for a purpose and how we love God and others best is by learning our limits and when needed, saying no.
If you are interested in learning more about David Murray’s 5 keys to a grace paced life check out this great article at Desiring God. Article here.