CNLP 305: Carlos Whittaker on Quitting Your Career Cold Turkey, Battling Anxiety, Panic Attacks and How to Move Into a Bold New Feature

A few years ago, Carlos Whittaker felt a prompting to quit his very successful career as a recording artist and worship leader to become a public speaker. Much to everyone’s surprise, that’s turned out to be a great move.

In a wide-ranging conversation, Carlos talks about that change, battling through panic attacks, anxiety and mental health issues, whether leaders who struggle with mental health should lead, and how to tell stories that connect (and go viral).

Welcome to Episode 305 of the podcastListen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

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10 Million Podcast Downloads Giveaway

Kill the Spider by Carlos Whittaker

Carlos’ visit to the White House

CNLP 161: Carlos Whittaker on Porn, Losing His Family, Hidden Sin and the Battle Back

Restoring the Foundations


Miles Adcox

HeartSync Ministries

Dr. Caroline Leaf

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Serotonin Spark!

Church Growth Masterclass

3 Insights from Carlos

1. Heavy seasons of growth are often painful

Carlos has gone through a pretty extreme professional shift. He started out as a highly successful worship leader at North Point Community Church (one of the largest churches in the country) and was leading worship on retainer at Elevation Church, but felt God call him to stop leading worship and to begin a speaking career.

When he decided to make this shift, Carlos cancelled all of his scheduled worship leading opportunities for the rest of the year and only pursued speaking gigs. There was a 13-day window between when he cancelled all of his worship events and when he got his first speaking gig. That 13-day window was one of the most intense growth seasons in his life. Carlos has learned that growth most often comes in difficult seasons.

2. Sometimes we have to change how we view our past selves

One of the biggest challenges Carlos has had to face throughout his life is his battle with anxiety, depression and panic attacks. For 13 years, the best solution he could find was a combination of therapy, medication and healthier lifestyle choices. This helped, but only brought him back to 60% of his normal self.

The only true healing that brought him back to 100% was supernatural/inner healing with the Holy Spirit. When he pursued inner healing, Carlos had to make amends with the past version of himself that he was ashamed of. He had to invite Jesus into that season of his life. Ever since doing this, Carlos has been back to 100% health.

3. We were never made to carry as much information as we do today

What is the first and last thing you do in a day? For most of us, we check our phones first thing in the morning and at night while we are falling asleep. This constant contact with other people’s stories and problems is causing a wave of anxiety and depression. So how did Carlos fix this?

He bought himself an actual alarm clock. He keeps his phone in another room so that it isn’t the first and last thing he looks at each day, he limited his social media usage, and he purchased a physical newspaper subscription. Making these simple changes has made a world of a difference for him in his own life and leadership.

Quotes from Episode 305

Nobody ever matures in their faith on vacation. We mature in those tough seasons. @loswhit Click To Tweet

If you risk a little, you may end up with a lot. @loswhit Click To Tweet

I'm convinced that's why we're seeing this rapid spike in anxiety, depression and mental health because we weren't created to carry what we're carrying. @loswhit Click To Tweet

There needs to be a way that the church realizes that we were not created to grind like this and everybody needs rest. @loswhit Click To Tweet

Everybody wants to hope for somebody else, for something else. @loswhit Click To Tweet

You've got to give people things to cheer for, to root for and to hope for. I think that's what makes people really come alive. @loswhit Click To Tweet

When you play safer bets, you may not have louder moments, but you'll still have moments that you can show people. @loswhit Click To Tweet

I'm taking big bets, and these big bets that I'm taking pay off in big moments. @loswhit Click To Tweet

My help is the natural, my hope is the supernatural. @loswhit Click To Tweet

One out of every four people is going to have a diagnosable mental illness in their life. @loswhit Click To Tweet

Read or Download the Transcript for Episode 305

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Next Episode: Sarah Piercy and Dillon Smith

How do you develop, attract and keep high capacity young leaders? In this episode, Carey interviews Sarah Piercy and Dillon Smith, two amazingly gifted young leaders he hired at ages 22 and 19 respectively. They have an honest, candid and insightful dialogue on the highs and the lows of developing young leaders, what didn’t work, what did, what motivates young leaders and why both are still on the team when they have a lot of options to go elsewhere. If you want to attract and keep young leaders, this interview can help more than you think.

Subscribe for free now and you won’t miss Episode 306.

CNLP 305: Carlos Whittaker on Quitting Your Career Cold Turkey, Battling Anxiety, Panic Attacks and How to Move Into a Bold New Feature

1 Comment

  1. Vince on November 26, 2019 at 5:45 pm

    Good material indeed, very helpful.

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