Book recommendation: Reset, by David Murray

As some of you know, I had a heart attack in October. During my recovery period my wife flagged a book that she thought I might find valuable to read. She was right – she usually is! The book was David Murray’s ‘Reset’. I think I’d been aware of it, but I’d not paid adequate attention to it.

Interestingly, ‘reset’ was a word that had occurred to us as a theme in my recovery. Another point of resonance was the fact that David Murray had written the book in the aftermath of some severe health crises of his own. Health crises have a way of binging us to a standstill – like an unforced sabbatical – and give us an opportunity to evaluate – and reset.

In ‘Reset’ David Murray uses the image of a car that’s gone into the garage for what we call an MOT in our part of the world (currently in Northern Ireland, it just happens that the MOTs really need an MOT!). The book is an opportunity to review how we are doing – physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally and relationally – and we are taken systematically through a series of ‘bays’ in which various aspects of our lives can be challenged with a view to reset.

David writes in a way that is theologically solid, soundly practical, and pastorally insightful.

There are ten chapters (all conveniently fitted with words beginning with R!).

1- Reality Check
2- Review
3- Rest (on sleep)
4- Re-Create (on the body)
5- Relax (on the mind)
6- Rethink (on identity)
7- Reduce (on purpose)
8- Refuel (on health + energy)
9- Relate (to God and others)
10- Resurrection (on newness)

If you are a Christian in any kind of leadership, or simply trying to keep up with the fast pace of 21st century life, you need to read this book! While your circumstances may not allow you to implement everything the book might suggest (it’s all very well for Roger Federer to sleep 11/12 hours per day), at the very least the book encourages you to review how you are living.

I should add that David has written the book mainly with men in mind. His wife, Shona, has written a very similar book where the applications relate more to women: it is Called ‘Refresh.’

I should also add that Pauline and I will be chatting to David and Shona about their books for an episode of the podcast: watch out for it in early March.

The Leadership Journey Podcast: Jude Cairns

Jude Cairns, Chief Executive of Love for Life

This week the podcast returns after a gap of 4 months – largely down to the host having had a heart attack in October! The guest on this episode is Jude Cairns. Jude is the Chief executive of Love for Life, a Christian charity that aims to equip young people so they are able to make good choices about relationships and sex.

Jude has previously worked for Youth for Christ, and Habitat for Humanity. She has been in her current role for 9 years and her work involves leading a team 12 people.

In the course of our conversation she talks about her desire to ‘make things better’ – a driver of leadership, the experience of living overseas for a year and the defining moment of losing her father to illness. She also talks about the influence of the Arrow Leadership programme and shares some of the things she has learned about leadership along the way.

For your own reflection:

1 – Do you think the Church in the West needs to be more courageous in its witness?

2 – What would you say are the main things you have learned about leadership?

The Leadership Journey Podcast: Sam Balmer

Sam Balmer

Sam Balmer is chairman of Bible Educational Services (BES), an organisation committed to producing Bible resources that are used in some 40 languages in some 65 countries around the world. He is also an elder in Fermanagh Christian Fellowship, a vibrant church that meets on the edge of Enniskillen.

In the course of our conversation Sam talked about his family, about some others who influenced him, about his interest in mission and his own path into the work that he heads up.

He also talks with great vulnerability and honesty about some of the challenges he has faced with stress-related illness, and some of what he has learned through that.

And, as with most of these interviews, he shares some of the key things he has learned during the course of his leadership journey.

What Sam shares about the challenge of stress-related illness is a reminder that spiritual leaders are not exempt from its reach. If you are a leader and some of what he says about it resonates with you, find someone to talk to. If there is no one in your immediate circle that you feel you can talk to, send me an email via this website and I will endeavour to get you in contact with someone who can help.

As I was editing this episode of the podcast a friend sent me an article that discusses the well-being (or lack of it) among pastors: it highlights these five issues:

  • Lack of rest or a day off;
  • Lack of support from fellow clergy and a sense of competition;
  • Lack of personal community;
  • Marital strain;
  • Signing up for ministry but feeling more like a CEO than a pastor.
Sam Balmer’s leadership journey

The Leadership Journey Podcast: Peter Lynas

This week’s guest on the podcast is Peter Lynas, Northern Ireland director of the Evangelical Alliance. Peter is a trained barrister and has a degree from Regent College in Vancouver, where he serves on the board.

In our conversation Peter talks about the influence of his father, Norman. At the time of posting this, Norman is in rehab following a serious stroke suffered in August. The most recent news is that he has been making a remarkable recovery. He is able to walk with assistance and able to chat with people. There is still a road to travel, but progress has been encouraging.

He talks about the concept of calling (listen out for his non-traditional take on this) and traces his story through his professional academic study and his work, which has included time with the Jubilee Centre in England.

Peter includes some of other people who have influenced him along the way and our conversation also includes issues such as sabbath and technology. He also talks about the work of the Evangelical Alliance and his passion for connecting faith with the public square.

He shares his key leadership learning:

  • Understand who you are
  • Have a rich understanding of the God story
  • Be in rooms with leaders who are better than you
  • Beware of leaving a generational gap
  • Recognise the loneliness of leadership

If you would like to know more about the public leadership initiative that Peter mentions, you can read about it here.

The Leadership Journey Podcast: Stephen Cave

This week’s guest on the podcast is Stephen Cave. Stephen is Senior Vice President for Translation with Biblica (The International Bible Society). He has also served as a Baptist pastor in Northern Ireland and has had leadership roles with the Evangelical Alliance where he is a member of the UK board.

Perhaps unsurprisingly for someone involved in the work of Biblica, one of his strong ministry passions is his desire to help people engage with the Bible: another is his heart for the wider Church.

In our conversation we talk about his early relationship with the Bible, the role of some people who were key influencers, how his faith was affected by an experience of tragic loss, and how his leadership journey has allowed him to combine his ministry passions.

Along the way he discusses some of his convictions about leadership, including the idea that a leader is someone who is prepared to have a tough conversation.



As you listen to the conversation, you might like to reflect on some of these questions:

1 – As a leader, how easy is it for you to delegate responsibility to others? What might prevent you from doing more of this?
2 – As you listen to Stephen talking about foundational ministry passions, can you identify the things that are key in your calling?
3 – How do you experience God speaking to you?
4 – How easy it it for you to have ‘tough conversations’ with people in your church or organisation?


I’m making a couple of changes to the podcast:

  • Each interview will be one episode rather than two (or occasionally three), previously.
  • Rather than a new episode every week, I’ll be aiming for two per month.

While you can always listen to the podcast via this blog, remember that you can also subscribe via Apple Podcasts or Castbox: just search for The Leadership Journey Podcast. Subscription costs nothing and you will get each new episode arriving automatically on your phone/tablet. New episodes will appear on Friday afternoons – hopefully in time for some weekend listening.


The guest on the next episode will be Peter Lynas from the Evangelical Alliance.

A call to worship

Ray Ortlund – Call to Worship

This weekend marks the retirement of Ray Ortlund – pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville. I’m hoping to have Ray on the podcast at some point in 2020.

Recently the church shared the call to worship that ray uses at the start of services. It exudes the grace of God and is well worth a listen. In fact, if you are a church leader I imagine Ray won’t mind if you borrow it for this Sunday morning!

To all who are weary and need rest;
To all who mourn and long for comfort;
To all who fail and desire strength;
And to all who sin and need a Savior —
This church opens wide her red doors in the name of Jesus,
The friend of sinners.