Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture
Busyness seems to be a badge of honor in our culture. At the same time, we see depression, anxiety, burn-out, and exhaustion expanding year by year, even amongst believers and young adults. But is anybody else tired? Does anyone else get tired of compulsively answering “I’m busy” when someone asks how we are? Have you ever thought that it was ridiculous just how much of our lives are governed by stress?
We almost never think about this busyness in terms of health. And honestly, we are often very far from a healthy lifestyle. We may go to the gym, or eat well, but how are our minds and souls doing? Are we living at a pace and with priorities that will eventually break us?
For most people, especially men and pastors, the answer is yes. The results are tragic— burnout leads to husbands too exhausted to lead families or pastors too broken to lead churches.
It’s hard to live a grace-paced life; we are surrounded by a culture that insists on more, faster, and bigger. Almost every job has turned into being on-call 24/7, and we function with little to no financial, physical, mental, or spiritual margin.
It’s not healthy. It’s not smart. It’s not wise. Yet, we still struggle to fight against a burnout pace.
We need change
I’ve seen these issues for a while, specifically in myself. Since I began college I barely cared about a healthy life: minimal exercise, fast food, lack of sleep, and work 7 days a week. Even in the last year I have seen the need for change, and David Murray is one of the people that helped me see it.
I found David Murray through his work “Christians Get Depressed Too,” when I was learning about anxiety and depression in my own life. So when I saw this book, Reset: Living a Grace Paced Life in a Burnout Culture, I knew I needed to read it.
Thankfully, Crossway was gracious enough to send this to me, and all my greatest hopes for the book were well-founded. Every man I know would be benefitted by this book, and I say that without a hint of exaggeration. (There is a “sequel” targeted at females available for pre-order.) I’m already looking forward to reading this book again, as I can have more time available to work through how I will put many more of its ideas into practice.
So what is the book? Why is it so useful to those feeling tired, busy, ragged, anxious, depressed, or burnt-out?
I have read few books that are as timely and needed as this. Pastors, you needed this book last week. Fathers and older men, you needed it yesterday. Younger men or students, you need it right now.
Nearly every man I know struggles in at least a few of the areas this book touches on: physical issues, work, identity, anxiety, depression, exhaustion, etc. The depression/anxiety rates of men (even pastors or millennials), the number of exhausted men I’ve dealt with personally, and the testimony of culture all tell me that we need the wisdom in this book.
This book is incredibly practical. Murray doesn’t waste time beating around the bush. From the first chapters of this incredibly easy-to-read work, he goes for changes you can make today to change the trajectory of your life. Men are often “real-world-oriented” and practical, and they won’t be disappointed in this book. Even more, you will be encouraged by the countless personal testimonies he uses from real-life fathers, husbands, men, and pastors.
You will find useful, practical help for everything from how often you use your phone to what you do for sleep. There is information about what good recreation looks like, what hobbies can do for you, what eating healthy does for you mind and mood, how to handle media in your life, and more.
Biblical. Reasonable. Logical.
Murray doesn’t root his arguments in opinions and assertions, but in The Bible and reason. Everything finds its root in a biblical principle and/or proven science. Even more, he points back to Jesus regularly, without being impractical or cheesy. In reading about sleep, I was blown away by what Murray calls “The sermon we preach in our sleep.” This section challenged me, encouraged me, and showed me how Jesus Christ changes everything (even sleeping).
One of the biggest reasons that so many men are burnt out is because they don’t live life with a purpose, instead they just drift around. Murray turns that around, but not in the mystical or hyper-spiritual way that many books speak of “finding God’s purpose for you.”
He will give you concrete examples of finding a purpose for yourself spiritually, vocationally, in family life, and in Christian service. Murray doesn’t hide behind generalities; he doesn’t tell you, “just go pray for a few days and you will receive your purpose statement from on high.” Instead, he helps you formulate something concrete and biblical: “By God’s grace, I will grow beyond having a short temper to being patient with others,” or “By God’s grace, I will lead my family to financial stability.” These concrete, solid purpose statements help the reader develop realistic plans that lead to a purposeful, God-glorifying life.
This book speaks of finding your identity in a fresh and useful way. So many people may say “my identity needs to be in Jesus,” but that is often a vague statement we barely understand how to implement. Murray helps us fix that problem.
One particular stretch of the book amazed me: the piece about failure. So many men go around life picturing themselves as a failure, or paralyzed by a fear of failure. In short order, Reset defuses that bomb.
To buy or not to buy?
In the end, I can do nothing else but highly recommend this book. Get it for yourself, and start living in a way that glorifies God more and produces far more joy than a burnt-out life ever could. Buy it for your dad, son, or friend; there is something in this for everyone (whether they “struggle” or not). Buy it for your pastor, they might just need to read it in a big way. If you’ve read it, please leave your thoughts below.
Have you experienced burnout? Are you weary of constant busyness, anxiety, or depression? Do you wonder if it’s possible to live a joyful, quiet, and good life without climbing to the top of every societal ladder?
This book will change the way you see your work, your family, your church, your free time, yourself, and your God.
Links and Resources
The book: Reset: Living a grace paced life in a burnout culture by David Murray
The companion: Refresh: Embracing a Grace-Paced Life in a World of Endless Demands by David and Shona Murray
Resources: Reset Resources on Head, Heart, Hand blog