It is a concept that most men, regardless of vocation, understand.
We have all heard the warnings. We have heard, and even likely repeated some of the statements related to pacing oneself better for health living.
- We know that we cannot continue "burning the candle at both ends."
- No one wants "He worked too hard for things that don't really matter" on their tombstone.
- Climbing the ladder of success is fruitless when you realize years later the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall.
- Success in life is not success when family is sacrificed.
- "I wish I knew then what I know now" is a tragic theme for one's life, especially when you really did know then what would have helped now.
All these and more are true statements that I have heard, read, repeated, and even used in teachings of men's conferences and Bible studies.
Like many men, I agree with these realities while I continue to push harder, faster, forward...falsely believing that these are great concepts, but not things that affect me.
Then, all the sudden, you have a few more years (decades) behind you and you realize that to have a maximum number of years ahead requires some wise readjustments, or as David Murray calls, a reset.
David Murray's book Reset was published by Crossway in 2017. It is one of those books I purchased a year or so ago. I placed it on my shelf in my office and categorized it on Goodreads as "Want to Read."
David Murray (PhD, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) is professor of Old Testament and practical theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. He is also a counselor, a regular speaker at conferences, and the author of Exploring the Bible. David is married to Shona.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began to change all our schedules, I went to my office at the church and gathered some books to bring home for some intentional pandemic reading. I have a stack of over twenty, but this book just stood out. I read the sub-title "Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture" and knew this was the time to slow down and check out Murray's book.
Have you ever read a book that seemed to be a bit too personal? I mean, it is as if the author is prying, going places you didn't expect? That's what soon was realized as I worked through Reset.
Repair Bays for Men
Murray takes the reader through a series of "repair bays" that bring to mind a garage not unlike those on the renovation television shows designed to take a beat up, classic car and return it to its former glory. The imagery works, for what man of a certain age does not long for the days when joints didn't ache, muscles weren't strained, hair was not grey (and actually was still attached to one's head,) and feeling "ten-feet tall and bullet-proof" were the norm?
This book is not some fluffy, surface-level, pop-psychological self-help guide.
Murray goes to scripture to express and define ways that men often get off track, even when doing good or godly work.
As Murray takes the reader through his repair bays, he writes not as one who looks down from the ivory tower simply giving opinions on how to live better, but as one who personally faced physical health issues related to stress and overwork as well as other man-made speed bumps. Therefore, his insight is from one who is on the journey as well, who has experienced the need and value of a reset and has helped other men do the same.
There are numerous passages and paragraphs that I highlighted in this book. Here are just a sampling of some that resonated with me:
Be cautious about seeking advice from someone who stands to lose if you need to slow down. (p. 44)
God put a special curse on men's work (Gen 3:17-19) to make sure that our idolizing of work would never fully satisfy. (p. 48)
(Regarding the need to rest and sleep well) What I do instead of sleep shines a spotlight on my idols, whether it be late-night football, surfing the internet, ministry success, or promotion. (p. 55)
Pastors seem to think that "Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work" (Ex 20:9-10) has an asterisk (*unless you're a pastor, in which case you must work seven days a week.) (p. 99)
Some men struggle to accept changes in their identities when they age, change jobs, experience ill health, or retire. (p. 120)
Remember, it's rarely one extra big thing but the addition of lots of little things that tends to overwhelm us, because it is much more difficult to say no to the little things. (p. 137)
The joy of the journey depends so much on who's riding with us. (p. 157)
These are just some of the clear statements that make this book a must-read for men, especially pastors. Yet, here is a warning–don't read this book just to complete another book. It is always a goal of mine to finish a book. In most cases, that is not a problem at all. I love to read and I love to complete a good book. Yet, in this case the intent of Reset is not just to be able to move the book from the "Want to Read" shelf on Goodreads to the "Read" shelf (though I did that.) The insight and steps needed to actually slow down, reset, and spend some needed time in the repair bays are vital.
I recommend Reset for my friends, pastors, and any men finding that they're running hard and fast, but fear they may be doing little more than running on fumes (i.e. burning out.)
The book is available wherever you purchase books. The link for purchasing from the publisher, Crossway, is here.
David and his wife Shona have also written the book Refresh: Embracing a Grace-Paced Life in a World of Endless Demands with women in our fast-paced culture in mind. It is available here.