Podcasts for Rest and Inspiration

Something about burnout affects how your brain functions.  I used to be an avid reader – and I’m beginning to recover that – but for months reading wasn’t a good option for me.  Words blurred together, headaches crept in and I had trouble processing what I was reading.  For the first time, I dove into the world of podcasts.  While I couldn’t read, I could listen, and I found the company of voices who wanted nothing from me refreshing.

I’ve listened to dozens of different podcasts – honestly my first foray into podcasts I gravitated to ones that talked about things I could care less about: church history, science-geek stuff and the like.  I loved the white noise of not caring if I processed anything or not!  But I’ve increasingly been drawn to a few that have lasted the season: devotional style podcasts that help me slow down and reflect (two things I continually need help with) and inspiring ones that make me brave to take the next step or encourage me to keep going.  Maybe you’ll find rest and inspiration in these, too.

Restful favourites:

Things Above Podcast 

James Bryan Smith

“Micronutrients for the soul,” is what he calls it – a podcast designed to help us reset our minds to focus on the truths of Christ.  In his gentle, persuasive way Smith unpacks some of the lies we believe about ourselves and replaces them with God’s truth.  He’s a Bible college professor with a passion to disciple believers, leading them to fruitful and intimate lives in Jesus, and this podcast is the perfect 10-15 minute focus on “Things Above”. 

His pilot episode’s proclamation is still one I say out loud to myself on a nearly daily basis:

Listen online: Episode 00 – Pilot Episode

The Next Right Thing

Emily P Freeman

Emily’s an author and spiritual director, and she’s someone whose name often comes up in the various conversations, podcasts and authors I read and listen to.  So it shouldn’t have surprised me when a good friend recommended her.  She’s kind of an online devotional.  She takes inspiration from daily life and works them into short, weekly contemplations on life and the Bible and God.  Not every one has inspired me, but many do and I often find myself chewing on her words later on in the week.

One of my recent favourite episodes highlighted the life of Winston Churchill, a man who has always inspired and fascinated me, with an insight into how highly effective people rest and rejuvenate.  It might surprise you!

Listen online: Choose a Pastime (episode 51)


Pray as you go

Okay, this isn’t a typical podcast, but for all you contemplatives out there, you’re going to love this resource!  It’s an online, daily audio devotional put out by the Jesuits.  They start with a musical selection to help focus you (varying from choral to African to contemporary – you’re guaranteed to love some and hate some!), followed by a Scripture reading in an awesome UK accent, then some questions for you to think on and consider relating to said Scripture.  They follow it with a re-reading of Scripture, a little more music for contemplation and close it with a benediction.  It’s perfect for on your daily commute, or to take a brief Sabbath moment in the middle of your day.  It’s also available in the App Store if podcasts aren’t your thing.

For those of you who appreciate contemplative practices, they also offer a few more resources, like a Daily Examen to help you process your day in light of God’s love.

Listen online: Daily Examen

Inspiring Favourites

I think this could be a rotating list of podcasts and I’d add new ones each month.  Over the course of the last 6 months, I’ve loved Jen Hatmaker’s For the Love podcast, Rachel Hollis’ Rise podcast, Do It Scared with Ruth Soukup and Declare Podcast, to name a few.  But if I had to choose two that have lasted the season, here’s my top choices:

Your Move

Andy Stanley

While I’m mostly drawn to the contemplative podcasts that help me slow down and reflect, there’s a few podcasts I go to for a bit more energy.

There’s nothing slow or contemplative about Andy Stanley.  He’s one of those high-energy leaders, mega church pastor, who comes at you with passion and drive that you can’t help but be inspired by.  Plus, he’s an every-man type of speaker who doesn’t assume you’ve got your life in order or have margin to take on the world.  His wisdom comes in bite-size peices, which is perhaps why I lean into him when I’m feeling too overwhelmed to go too deep.  He’s also been in a preaching season where it feels like he’s talking specifically to those who feel stuck, or need to start over, or have decisions to make.

A great place to start is his “Starting Over” series:

What do you do when life falls apart?  In this episode, Andy explains how to pick up the pieces.

Listen online: Starting Over (episode 1)

The Leadership Podcast

Carey Nieuwhof

I hesitate to list this podcast.  Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but I’m not entirely sure it’ll help you.  I’m drawn to Carey because of who he is more than what he says.  He’s a leadership guru, and to be honest, I’m not exactly leading much these days.  Most of what he talks about has minimal application value, except in peripheral ways.  But I keep coming back to him because he, too, has been through burnout and is open and transparent about his experience, and it comes up regularly in his talks.  Today he’s a high caliber pastor, speaker, author and leader, and I just find that tremendously inspiring.

Knowing there is an “after” to burnout, watching him (from a distance), thrive, seeing there’s a way forward that doesn’t bring me back to burnout is kind of huge.  Burnout regularly comes up as part of his conversations, and I find I just drink that up.  Plus, he’s an interesting guy who interviews fascinating people.  So maybe you’ll be inspired by him, too.

Listen online: Episode 234 – Erwin McManus on overcoming the need for approval (and more)

I hope these give you rest and inspiration as well!

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