Book Review: “Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture” by David Murray

Murray, David. Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017.

Recently, I finished reading this book after another local church pastor had recommended I read it. The author, David Murray, is Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. He holds a D.Min degree from Reformed International Theological Seminary.

Summary: This book is a short 10 chapter work that aims to address the topic of burnout. While it is written with a pastoral bend, the book can be read by those who are not in ministry but have difficulty structuring their lives to avoid burnout. Murray does admit that the book is probably most useful for those who are middle-aged and in ministry. Yet, the contents of the book are immensely practical for younger people looking to make life habits that will be preventative for burnout.

Each chapter is viewed as a “repair bay.” They are stops that every individual struggling with burnout must make in order to get back on the road. The ten chapters are rather straight forward. The first two chapters address the problem of burnout. First, readers are exposed to the reality of the world we live in and its tendency to lead to burnout. Second, readers are reminded in chapter 2 of man’s inability to work at a pace that God has designed for us.

Chapters 3-10 are where the rubber meets the road and readers are instructed about the necessary elements that “reset” victims of burnout. They cover a variety of topics like scheduling adequate rest (ch. 3), investing in hobbies and recreation (ch. 4), relaxing (ch. 5), calibrating one’s identity (ch. 6), practically planning and recognizing our limits in life (ch. 7), finding avenues to rejuvenate our burned out bodies (ch. 8), developing healthy relationships (ch. 9), and returning back to work with strength and renewal (ch. 10).

Comments: I am extremely pleased I took the time to read this book. I was pleasantly surprised with the balance of which David Murray wrote. He was able to be thoroughly biblical in his assessment of burnout. He presented a great anthropology (doctrine of man) by recognizing our limits and capacities as image bearers of God. He was able to accomplish this without being too wordy. He simultaneously provided more than enough practical instructions to apply these doctrines, especially in light of pastoring in the West.

Personally, I tend to be an individual whose body runs faster than I can think. I think I am prone to burnout (both physically and spiritually). Reading this book helped slow me down and reconsider how my day-to-day actions may actually be hindering my longevity in the ministry. It was convicting and a book that I think I will return to on a regular basis.

Recommendations: I would recommend this book to anyone who is in full-time ministry and men who have a generally demanding schedule. This would be a great book for required reading for anyone straight out of seminary or a pastoral staff. It wouldn’t hurt to read it in a men’s small group, but it does have a generally pastoral bend to its content. I think pastor’s wives could greatly benefit from reading this book to help keep pastors accountable. This is definitely worth reading. It is one of few devotional books that I can see myself returning to again and again.

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