Chris Gribble shares reflections on burnout

Four signs that indicated I was emerging from burnout

1. My creativity began re-emerging

Truth’s daily task

Truth is not clinging to a failed understanding,

Truth is the soul’s daily work,

The creative heart work of the true human.

Another line in this poem that I wrote was that “truth lived brings laughter and tears”. When in the midst of my burnout there wasn’t much laughter, tears were the more common expression of my state of being. Creativity requires both to be present in our life. The unhealthy imbalance was very evident in my daily lament about my lack of value to anyone.

James Altucher in his book, “Choose Yourself” recommends that we write down ten ideas a day. I would normally say such a task is too easy but my idea well was completely dry during this time.

Creativity re-emerging showed itself in a growing confidence to try something new. Each day as I took the next faltering step forward I was able to move to a new understanding of myself as a person. The old ways of seeing myself were lost in a finding of a new truth that touched the very core of my soul.

A reflection on Psalm 85

When love and faithfulness collided with my life,

The sparks shot to the heavens,

The light shower showed me the way forward,

The paralysis of despair healed completely,

I used the word paralysis to refer to the despairing state that I found myself in during my experience of burnout. The discovery of those who could meet me with love and faithfulness in the moments of darkness encouraged the smallest sparks of creativity that they saw in me and this allowed light to emerge on the next step forward. Being able to work creatively and to then have the confidence to share my work with a community that expressed love and faithfulness was a very clear sign that I was beginning to rediscover a balance in my life.

2. My sleep became restful

One of the clearest indicators of my state of being when in the midst of burnout was a poor sleep rhythm. Even when I did sleep it never felt like I woke refreshed. There were times when I questioned if I would ever have a proper night’s sleep again. I felt like I lived in a state of perpetual tiredness. Being able to have a good night’s sleep was a welcome relief that was a clear indicator that something was beginning to shift in me.

A reflection on Psalm 112

My heart’s deepest gladness has been found,

Living in the centre of God’s intention,

I sleep peacefully each night,

I dream of hope and belonging,

For me the tiredness hung around for a long time. I am normally a quite active person who approaches life with enthusiasm. My preferred rhythm is to wake early and it’s in that time that I can be quite creative. When I continually was waking up feeling tired there was little creativity left in me.

As I emerged from my continual tiredness I started looking forward to the mornings again. As creativity emerged I began looking forward to waking up so that I could engage in the creative activity of my work. Sleep was welcomed because it was a restful sleep that came from resolving some of the tension that I felt had emerged in understanding my sense of vocation and my response to that call.

3. I didn’t need to be the centre of my conversation

At the height of my burnout my conversation centred around me. Sometimes when I was saying the words about me I felt tired of hearing myself talk. Some good friends stayed with me during this period and continued to listen and I am thankful that they were able to do this.

A reflection on Psalm 104

Like a lost friend who is brought close,

Creation continually welcomes me with a huge hug,

I am safe again in his presence,

His Voice the centre of my conversations,

One of my burnout symptoms was a complete retreat into myself. This was very difficult with a wife and four children who were very used to me be very present in our family life. I still managed to be very self-focussed in my world of perpetual distraction. Even when I was with them I was never really there. I would be looking at them but thinking about a thousand things that could be going wrong, what I needed to do yet in that day, what mistakes I had made that day and a constant self-talk of failure. There wasn’t much room in my head to fit anyone else.

My centre had become all about me and this was creating fatal wounds in my life. Learning to discover other important voices that spoke into my life helped me to re-find my centre. I loved the growing sense of belonging that brought with it a healing voice into my life. The words that emerged brought a new understanding of my own voice that could transcend my immediate problems.

4. I began feeling more confident again

So many of us let others determine what we are worth. It’s our duty to make that determination ourselves.”

Jonathan Goldsmith

Dr Travis Bradberry in a recent article refers to research done by the University of California that shows the more difficulty you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression. He also says that before we say “no” we need to have worked out what we are saying yes to.

A reflection on Psalm 203

My first word today is to say, “No”,

To a thousand different questions,

That seek to bring complexity,

To what is the simple choice,

Of first saying yes to God.

Being able to say no to someone means that there is something bigger at play in life. I have learned once again to find a bigger purpose in my life than some of the more material goals that dominated my life during my period of burnout. This gives more confidence to be able to make choices and to then live with those choices.

I notice myself saying no more and more lately. Sometimes saying no is often about choosing between good and best, this choice can be difficult especially when the creative juices are flowing and there are so many options to explore. But, saying no helps focus creativity and beds it into more fertile soil that is ultimately more productive.

No can sometimes bring with it some immediate pain but this is often better than the dull ache of a half hearted yes. No, changes the terms of a relationship because it makes the reality or impossibility of a situation clearer. Burnout can feel like living in a fog but with finding the capacity to say no confidently the fog recedes to give a clearer picture of reality.

Chris Gribble

Building Resilience 2015

Join Rick and Tim plus others in each state for a one day training, equipping and networking workshop for those with a ministry of mentoring.  Hosted by Australian Christian Mentoring Network.

Resilience is key to sustainability. Fostering resilience in those we mentor is one of greatest gifts we can give them. It can enable leaders to manage stress successfully, to last the distance in ministry, to recover effectively from times of pressure and to maintain healthy and productive lives and ministries.

This one-day seminar will give you insights and practical take-home resources that you can immediately apply to your own mentoring relationships. Along with transforming information you will workshop the materials presented in peer groups to enrich your mentoring practice.

Key Presenter: Dr Rick Lewis is primarily a practitioner of mentoring, serving around 60 senior Christian leaders in Australia, the UK, Europe and South-east Asia. For 30 years he was a local church pastor, all the while devoting some time to mentoring, consulting with churches, and training. Since 2011 he has worked full-time as an itinerant mentor, consultant, trainer, conference speaker and visiting lecturer. He holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Theological Seminary, having conducted action research into mentoring processes for pastors. His first book, Mentoring Matters, published in 2009, deals especially with formal, structured mentoring for Christian leaders. Rick is a member of the European Mentoring and Coaching Council and chairs the leadership group of the Australian Christian Mentoring Network.

Each seminar will feature responses by local mentoring leaders and a Practical Skills workshop facilitated by Tim Dyer of the Johnmark Extension.


Cost: $50, including a free year’s membership to the ACMN for eligible mentors
Note: Please bring or purchase your lunch nearby

Times: 9.30 am – 4.30 pm

Venues: Brisbane: Ann Street Church of Christ, 430 Ann Street, Brisbane City, Queensland
Sydney: Koorong Conference Room, 28 West Parade, West Ryde, NSW (Access via stairs from car park)
Adelaide: Tabor Adelaide, 181 Goodwood Road, Millswood, South Australia
Melbourne: Stirling and Tabor College, 44 – 60 Jacksons Road Mulgrave, Victoria

0405758286 (Janet)

Formation 2014 – Presentations and Notes

Thanks for all those who attended and shared in our 2014 Formation Forum in Tasmania.  We have processed all the feedback.  The response to the format was very positive. 

We are in the process of uploading the notes, presentations and links to some videos from the Forum.  You will need to be a registered site member to view these as they will not show up on the blog unless you are logged in.   

Spiritual Mentoring Seminar–CS Lewis Institute

I have just come across the audio recordings and notes of 5 excellent sessions at a conference on Spiritual Mentoring hosted by the CS Lewis Institute back in 2011.

The presenter is Dr Tom Schwanda of Wheaton College, Associate Professor of Spirtual Formation. 

These are well worth a listen to.  The notes can also be downloaded. 

Spiritual Mentoring- How to Help Others Grow in Their Relationship with Christ – C.S. Lewis Inst

Are You a Godly Mentor?

By Rick Lewis

Even mentors with many years of experience find that the inherent complexity of human relationships creates an environment in which there will always be much left to learn about this process. Part of this complexity comes from the fact that human relationships function on many levels. On the first level, it is clear that mentors’ words and actions have an impact on mentorees. What may not be quite so obvious is that on deeper levels, other factors within a mentor – such as inner attitudes, emotional health and the condition of the soul – are all in play, affecting the way the relationship functions and develops. Perhaps the most powerful of these factors operating within a Christian mentor is their godliness. Mentoring is not only about what you do; it’s about who you are. I invite you who are mentors to stir up your awareness and understanding of the interconnectedness between who you are, what you do, and the outcomes of your mentoring.

Continue reading “Are You a Godly Mentor?”

Motivation for Christian Mentoring

By Rick Lewis

Much about mentoring can be learned along the way. There is no need to have everything right before you start. However, motivation is one of those matters that do need to be examined before you begin, and regularly reviewed as you go along. Although this self-examination is a confronting business, it is necessary for mentors to get their hearts in tune with the Spirit of God if they expect to be used by him to bring benefit to others through mentoring. So, what motivated you to get into mentoring? For most of us, the reality is a mix of noble and base motivations. We may wish it were not so, but there is no use pretending. Having acknowledged that, it befits mentors to propagate the noble motivations and weed out the base ones.

Continue reading “Motivation for Christian Mentoring”