Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture

Reset

“How did I get here?”

These are the words of many Christian men on the brink of burnout or in the midst of breakdown. They are exhausted, depressed, anxious, stressed, and joyless. Their time is spent doing many good things, but their pace is unsustainable—lacking the rest, readjustment, and recalibration everyone needs on a regular basis.

But there is good news: God has graciously provided a way for men to reset their lives at a more sustainable pace. Drawing on my own experiences—and time spent with other men who have also experienced burnout—I’ve written a new book which offers weary men hope for the future, helping them identify the warning signs of burnout and offering practical strategies for developing patterns that help them live a grace-paced life and reach the finish line with their joy intact.

Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture, published by Crossway, will be officially published on 31 March. But you can pre-order from Amazon or buy it from Reformation Heritage Books right now at about 40% off!


Four Kinds of Deep Work

“The key to developing a deep work habit is to move beyond good intentions and add routines and rituals to your working life.” Cal Newport.

While insisting on the principle of Deep Work, Cal Newport admits that there are many different ways to integrate it into your schedule. In his book, he outlines four approaches.

The Monastic Philosophy of Deep Work Scheduling

This attempts to maximize deep efforts by eliminating or radically minimizing shallow obligations. It usually involves lengthy periods (weeks and months) of isolation and disconnection from people and communications. They tend to have a well-defined and highly valued professional goal that they’re pursuing. The bulk of their professional success comes from doing this one thing exceptionally well. This clarity enables them to eliminate all the other shallow concerns that often overtake those who have more varied work.

The Bimodal Philosophy of Deep Work Scheduling

This asks that you divide your time by dedicating some clearly defined stretches to deep pursuits and leaving the rest open to everything else. These workers admire the monks but also derive value from the shallow work they do.

During the deep sessions the bimodal worker will act monastically with intense and uninterrupted concentration, but during the shallow period they are not so focused. There are multiple ways to divide up time in this way (e.g. four days deep, one day shallow), but the minimum for achieving maximum cognitive intensity is at least one full day.

The Rhythmic Philosophy of Deep Work Scheduling

This philosophy argues that the easiest way to consistently start deep work sessions is to transform them into a simple regular habit. The goal is to generate a rhythm that removes the need to decide when you’re going to go deep. It may be a commitment to enter the deep zone for the first two hours of each day, for example.

The routine makes sure that a little bit gets done every day, even though it fails to achieve the same intensity of deep work that the previous two approaches do. This is often the most realistic method for those in standard office jobs.

The Journalistic Philosophy of Deep Work Scheduling

Those who follow this approach switch into deep work whenever time and opportunity arises. Newport admits this is not for novices as the ability to switch from shallow work to deep work does not come naturally nor easily. In fact, to me it seems to contradict everything he’s been advocating up to this point. However, for those with demanding schedules, it’s often the only way to get any kind of deep work done.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport.


Check out

Blogs

“Beauty and the Beast” to feature an “exclusively gay moment” | Denny Burk
It was coming. Now it’s arrived.

The Aseity of God and the Power to Change | Borrowed Light
A fine example of how the attributes of God can be of immense practical help in the Christian life.

How Pastors Perceive Domestic Violence Differently | ChristianityToday.com
Convicting and challenging research.

10 Questions on Dating with Matt Chandler | Desiring God
Good material for discussion with your kids.

Pixels Are People
“We fail when we neglect the technology the Lord has given us. The church is responsible to steward both the message of the gospel and the Great Commission opportunities that present themselves. Christians had to be taught how to use the printing press and broadcast radio. Likewise, we must be willing to learn how to use today’s technology well.”

How to Leave a Church | For The Church
And here’s a podcast on the same subject: Parting is Such Frequent Sorrow.

10 Things I’d Do If I Were Raising a Daughter Today – Ron Edmondson
And in the interests of equality, here are 10 Things I’d Do If I Were Raising a Son Today.

New Book

This Is Our Time: Everyday Myths in Light of the Gospel by Trevin Wax.

Uncertain. Confused. Overwhelmed.

Many Christians feel bombarded by the messages they hear and the trends they see in our rapidly changing world.

How can we resist being conformed to the pattern of this world? What will faithfulness to Christ look like in these tumultuous times? How can we be true to the gospel in a world where myths and false visions of the world so often prevail?

In This is Our Time, Trevin Wax provides snapshots of twenty-first-century American Life. in order to help Christians understand the times. By analyzing our common beliefs and practices (smartphone habits, entertainment intake, and our views of shopping, sex, marriage, politics, and life’s purpose), Trevin helps us see through the myths of society to the hope of the gospel.

As faithful witnesses to Christ, Trevin writes, we must identify the longing behind society’s most cherished myths (what is good, true, beautiful), expose the lie at the heart of these myths (what is false and damaging), and show how the gospel tells a better story – one that exposes the lie but satisfies the deeper longing.

Kindle Books

New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional by Paul Tripp $2.99.

Beating the College Debt Trap: Getting a Degree Without Going Broke by Alex Chediak $1.99.

Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines by David Mathis $2.99.

Video

This is Autumn. She’s Planned Parenthood’s Worst Nightmare
Autumn responds to a pro-abortion article in Teen Vogue. Watch the video then read this article.


New Book: The Christian’s Only Comfort in Life and Death

This is a guest post by Rev. Bartel Elshout, the translator of The Christian’s Only Comfort in Life and Death


ComfortRHB’s publication of The Christian’s Only Comfort in Life and Death marks another milestone in making works from the Dutch Further Reformation available to the English-speaking world. If you have benefited from reading The Christian’s Reasonable Service by Wilhelmus à Brakel, you will also relish reading the venerated exposition of the Heidelberg Catechism by Dutch divine, Theodorus VanderGroe.

VanderGroe was the last major representative of the Dutch Further Reformation—the Dutch and contemporaneous equivalent of English Puritanism. Though VanderGroe’s work does not belong to the genre of systematic theology (as is true for à Brakel’s work), his sermonic exposition of the Heidelberg Catechism addresses all the major doctrines of Scripture. This exposition has therefore always been viewed as VanderGroe’s magnum opus—a compelling reason why this new publication includes a detailed topical index.

This work has consistently been held in high esteem by the godly in the Netherlands. Not only does VanderGroe prove himself to be an able theologian in expounding the fundamental doctrines of Scripture, but this work also yields ample evidence that he was a loving, compassionate, and faithful pastor. His exposition therefore bears all the marks of Dutch and English Puritanism: it is scriptural, Christological, experiential, spiritually invigorating, and, last but not least, discriminating.

A beautiful and rich example of this is found in his exposition of Lord’s Day 7, in which he deals with the crucial subject of saving faith. He writes,

However weak or feeble faith may be, and however much it may be accompanied by strife, opposition, distrust, and carnal doubt, there will nevertheless always be, by the power and operation of the Holy Spirit, something in the heart of a Christian that constitutes the essence of true faith—all of which will not be found in an unbeliever. This continually prompts the believer, in spite of all doubt and opposition of flesh and blood, to lift up his heart by the power of the Holy Spirit and to approach God as His Father, doing so in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, relying continually upon His grace. He does so by trusting in God’s immutable promises that He, in Christ, is to him a reconciled and gracious Father, and that for the sake of the sacrifice of Christ, He has most surely pardoned all his sins and will never be wroth with him again (Lord’s 7, 2nd sermon–Vol. 1, p. 107).

In his exposition of Lord’s Day 46, in which he deals with the address of the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father which art in heaven,” he again encourages believers to draw near to God as their heavenly father, saying,

Believers should view God entirely as their merciful and gracious Father, and…address and refer to Him as such. And, surely, when a believer sees and has knowledge of this relationship with God, the heart is immediately moved and sweetly enamored with a childlike fear of God. The soul then is immediately filled with a tender love, respect, and reverence for God. God’s children know this by experience, for they then perceive how God, as their heavenly Father, is worthy of such childlike fear (Vol. 2, pp. 442-443).

This is but a sampling of the rich, experiential content of this work. If you are not familiar with the Heidelberg Catechism, this work will also serve as a wonderful introduction to this highly esteemed continental confession. I am therefore certain that theologians, pastors, and the believer in the pew will be amply rewarded by reading the work of a man who concludes his exposition by writing, “If it may have added, in but a small measure, to the unveiling and magnification of [God’s] infinite glory, I will deem myself to be most blessed that He has called me to be a partaker of that salvation, and that I have been given the privilege to proclaim among men the unsearchable riches of Christ, my Lord and Savior.”


Check out

Blogs

Lord, Prepare Me to End Well | Desiring God
“Learning to end well, to let go well, is one of the most neglected subjects in Western Christian discipleship. There’s little teaching and guidance for navigating these tricky waters. Perhaps it’s no surprise that Christian leaders frequently struggle to step out of leadership, and churches struggle with leadership transitions, and Christians, in general, frequently experience confusion and disorientation at the end of various seasons of life and ministry.”

The Two Things We Must Say About the Transgender Debate | Kevin DeYoung
In sum: “The agenda ought to be lampooned. The people ought to be loved.”

Three Distractions that Pull Us Off the Wall | LifeWay Pastors
“We must have resolve that we won’t let that which ultimately means nothing keep us from that which means everything! Some of the most challenging demonic attacks come in the form of everyday distractions; they aren’t from a guy with red horns and a pitchfork. Here are three…”

7 Bible Passages to Know before Jehovah’s Witnesses Knock on Your Door | Counseling One Another
Helpful preparation for the inevitable knock.

Non-Ignorable “Ifs” | The Christward Collective
A
 neat biblical theology of “if.”

3 Reasons I’m Praying For More Ethnic Diversity At RCC | Jedidiah Coppenger
To which I add my “Amen.”

It’s Time to Trump Addiction | RealClearHealth
Never thought I’d see Van Jones and Newt Gingrich on the same team.

Kindle Books

For your non-Kindle book buying needs please consider using Reformation Heritage Books in the USA and Reformed Book Services in Canada. Good value prices and shipping.

Rejoicing in Lament: Wrestling with Incurable Cancer and Life in Christ by Todd Billings $2.99.

The New Testament in Antiquity: A Survey of the New Testament within Its Cultural Context $8.99.

The Gospel Commission: Recovering God’s Strategy for Making Disciples by Michael Horton $1.99.

Video

The Gift of Cerebral Palsy
Please find the time to watch this powerful short film.


A Deep Life is a Good Life

Why are people so unhappy in their work? No matter how much they are paid, so few people seem to have any satisfaction in what they do.

In Deep Work, Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, Cal Newport argues that the main reason for so much unhappiness at work is that people are spending way too much time on shallow work and way too little on deep work. (See previous posts about this here, here, and here).

Before diving into a detailed descriptions of his rigorous program for transforming one’s professional life into one centered on deep work, Cal Newport makes three arguments for more deep work in our lives. He admits his first two arguments are essentially pragmatic and market-based: pursue deep work because it is becoming increasingly valuable and at the same time increasingly rare.

His third argument, however, is more about human flourishing. It is that a life devoted to deep work is the most satisfying and meaningful. To put it bluntly—the deep life is a good life. he makes this argument first from a neurological perspective.

Neurological Perspective

Newport references scientific studies which have demonstrated that the skillful management of attention is the sine qua non (the essential condition) of the good life and the key to improving virtually every aspect of our experience.

This is because our brains construct our worldview based on what we pay attention to. Who you are, what you think, feel, and do, what you love—is the sum of what you focus on. Therefore by skillfully managing their attention, people can improve their world without changing anything concrete about it.

If your world is the outcome of what you pay attention to, consider for a moment the type of mental world constructed when you dedicate significant time to deep endeavors. There’s a gravity and sense of importance inherent in deep work. if you spend enough time in this state, your mind will understand your world as rich in meaning and importance.

If you keep your email open these issues will remain at the forefront of your attention, leading to a working life dominated by stress, irritation, frustration and triviality.

Therefore if you are a knowledge worker, the more time you spend in a state of depth is maximizes the meaning and satisfaction you’ll associate with your working life.

Psychological Perspective

A psychological perspective also supports Newport’s thesis. Psychologists have found that the best human moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. This is often call a “flow state” and includes stretching the  mind to its limits, concentrating and losing oneself in an activity. Such flow states, which can be achieved via deep work, generate maximum happiness and satisfaction.

Personal Perspective

I’ve certainly found this true in my own experience. When I set strict boundaries around my deep work hours, go to war against distractions and interruptions, and make every effort to concentrate on one task, my job satisfaction (and productivity) goes through the roof. However, if I spend my whole day with my email open, my phone pinging and buzzing, checking social media, dotting from one thing to another, and interrupted constantly, then I am not only miserable, I am totally unproductive. And sinning.

For me, deep work is not just a personal preference but a matter of conscience. I have to answer not only to my employer but also to my God for the talents and time he has given me. Deep work is the way I try to multiply God-given talents for the glory of God and the good of others.