Written specifically to pastors, this book on personal maintenance and care is applicable to any worker, at any level, in any organization. While pastoring, I would often recommend people see professional counselors, whether for personal issues or for the sake of their marriage. Those who were not in obvious emergency-room-status would look at me like I was crazy and give me some sort of response of, “there’s nothing wrong with me/us”. My response would be – if you only take your car to the shop when it’s broken, it’s not going to last as long as you want. That’s why you do regular preventative maintenance, like oil changes and tire rotations. Nods in agreement would ensue.
In his book, Dr Murray uses this exact motif. Comparing our lives, careers, ministries, etc. to vehicle maintenance and repair, each chapter discusses a different “repair bay” that we need to regularly back ourselves into, creating the margin needed to sustain and thrive in the calling on our lives to lead, manage and get things done at a high level. If you want to live a life of impact and legacy, Dr Murray argues, you have to take care of yourself.
Using practical and helpful advice, Dr. Murray covers everything from rest, sleep, eating, exercise, accountability, friendship and recreation to drive home the point that we are complex beings in need of complex care, and ultimately, we are the ones responsible for our own health and sanity. Overwork is largely the result of pride, over-inflated egos and even narcissism. It’s based on the faulty belief (often an accidental personal value) that “if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself”. Those who never rest, or “turn it off”, not only evidence in their actions a belief that they are more important than God (He rested, and commands us to also), they also end up wielding damage in the lives and psyches of those around them. I once talked to another pastor who confessed to me that he hadn’t had a Sunday off in over three years. The look of horror on my face prompted him to reply, “I know, I’m going to run myself into the ground if I keep going at this pace”. I told him, “Well, yes, that’s the obvious part. The less obvious part is that you apparently care more about yourself than you do your church, because you are not the only voice they need to hear. It’s essential for you personally to take time off, but you also are responsible for diversifying the exposure your people get to God’s word”, because God’s word is much more complex and vast, than any one person could ever hope to convey. That’s at least part of what the writer of Hebrews emphasized when exhorting us to recall the “cloud of many witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1). If you’re a pastor, people need to hear from more voices than just your own – and you need rest.
If you’re approaching burnout, or if stress has become a unwelcome resident in your life, regardless of your job title, Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture is a must read.