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To Be Told: Know Your Story, Shape Your Future

4.03  ·  Rating Details  ·  545 Ratings  ·  60 Reviews
Would you willingly overlook clear direction from God that speaks directly to you and where you are in life right now?

God’s guidance is near at hand. He is not only your Authority, he is also your Author. As God writes the stories of your life, he uses your past to open up your future.

It is your privilege to listen to your own story so you can live boldly for the sake of
Paperback, 240 pages
Published November 7th 2006 by WaterBrook (first published 2005)
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Not Marked by Mary E. DeMuthThin Places by Mary E. DeMuthThe Wounded Heart by Dan B. AllenderBoundaries by Henry CloudThe Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass
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32nd out of 42 books — 25 voters
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84th out of 101 books — 12 voters

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Community Reviews

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Feb 12, 2015 Tracy rated it really liked it
I have never really thought about the importance of telling our stories. This book opened my eyes to how we not only need to share our story but also listen to the stories of others. In telling my story, I am telling God's story. When we we look at our past....the hurts, the ugly parts, the joy and triumphs we can see the theme/themes that God is weaving into our story and when we do that we are able to see how God is giving us a role in His story. We can start to see his calling in our life. I ...more
Aug 18, 2013 Lauren rated it really liked it
This book got me writing again. Although I love Dan Allender's work, I didn't expect to be so moved by this particular title. The power of personal story has been a popular topic for years now (see Donald Miller's "A Million Miles..."), and I had an attitude of "been there, done that." I was wrong. I love Allender's emphasis on how our personal stories help reveal the greatest story, the story that God is telling about himself. This is not idle navel-gazing; this is truth-telling, the kind that ...more
B. Mason
Feb 28, 2016 B. Mason rated it liked it
There's wisdom and insight to be gleaned from this book and, as a writer, I found considerable power in Allender's metaphor of our lives as stories, to be told and understood by others and ourselves. However, I often found myself getting mired in the language of "evangelicalese" that attempts to feel and sound important but only confuses the point that's trying to be made. What is even more frustrating is that Allender's assertions, such as knowing your past in order to be able to understand you ...more
Helen Gillette
Nov 17, 2014 Helen Gillette rated it really liked it
This book came at just the right time. I was attempting to dig deeply into my past to be able to understand more about who, what, and the why of me. I wanted to fill in some missing puzzle pieces of my life. I was actually able to be a part of a Story Group, based on Dan Allender's teaching. Once I started putting pen to paper and writing My Story, there was a freeing of my soul and a realization of life patterns. This book helped me learn more of how to add to my story and understand things abo ...more
Mar 04, 2010 Jonathan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Oh, books -- I just can't quit you. Usually.

It's very seldom that I stop reading a book before finished, but I did with this one. I was more than halfway through, to note. Not to entirely lump this read in with them by any means, but as with a lot of self-help-y Christian books, To Be Told just gets repetitive, with a side dish of "I know you wish to inspire, but I've heard it all before."

Dan Allender's story of recovery from abuses and addictions in his own life to become a leading spiritually-
Lynn Tolson
Dan B. Allender, Ph.D, is a professor of counseling, a therapist, and a public speaker, seminar leader, and a “reflection and recovery” retreat facilitator. He is also associated with the Mars Hill Graduate School, in Seattle, Washington. Visit his website at

Dr. Allender writes with the premise of the reader’s belief in God. He uses Bible versus to reinforce a point, such as: “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”

To Be Told is constructed in four parts
Nov 01, 2015 Danny rated it really liked it
This book seemed to speak to my soul. It is as if I could have written big portions of it and the rest were the missing chapters. I am super challenged to pursue my own story anew. I didn't really care for the part of trying to convince me of how God repents but I also could see his point. I also wish the book had more directives on how to work out the concepts he is asking of his readers as opposed to selling a workbook companion that I can buy digitally. If it did it would have had five stars.
Apr 27, 2016 Becca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I saw that the premise of the book was life as story, I knew I had to read it. As a writer and reader, this was speaking my language. Allender both challenges and inspires as he urges the reader to face and write the darkest parts of their own stories, while simultaneously holding those dark stories up to the light to give hope to others. I was most intrigued by his assertion that to find God's path forward we must learn to accurately read the stories of our past. The only disappointment I ...more
May 29, 2013 Liz rated it really liked it
This book invites you to explore what the events in your own life reveal not only our blindness to sin but to reveal how God has been present already. If we believe Scripture is truly from the mouth of God and that we were made in His image, then it only makes sense that how God reveals His story to us is significant to out own process of revelation. We are such forgetful creatures that writing solidifies past and present so the future may have more lasting context. This book warmed and challeng ...more
Aug 04, 2014 Sharon rated it it was ok
Not what I expected. The author writes from the viewpoint that everyone's stories are the result of tragedy, abuse and suffering, and spends much time telling of his own. Just not where I'm coming from. I wanted to be inspired to dig deeper to see what God is doing in my own life. I didn't necessarily want to read so much about his - especially the sexual abuse in his past.
Betty Wendland
Jul 14, 2016 Betty Wendland rated it it was amazing
Dan Allender is a wonderful author and his book To Be Told makes you realize that everyone has a story. It made me want to put down the book and start writing my own story. His storytelling ability is amazing and I loved the humor he brought in along the way.
Feb 28, 2015 James rated it liked it
This is "Storyline" and "A Million Miles..." before they existed. Allender is harder to read than Miller, and more esoteric. But this is a worthy take on the subject. And every time I read Allender, I'm impressed with his EQ.
Micah Seppanen
Jan 15, 2016 Micah Seppanen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: stories
A wonderful book on the importance of our trauma, pain, and suffering. How might those things lead to the very place we are called to?
Dec 03, 2008 Gary rated it really liked it
Allender is one of my favorite authors, and his "To Be Told" illustrates why I enjoy reading his work. Not only does he master the language, he writes with such fluidity and color he draws you into his subject matter, that is, writing your personal story. This is not an invitation to write a simple autobiography, rather a chance to dig deeper into details which have framed your life.

Allender asks "What if we were to embrace with wonder every person who has spoken our name and written our story--
Jeff Janoski
Apr 16, 2016 Jeff Janoski rated it really liked it
Really good book except challenging to grasp. Once I went to Dr. Allender's conference it made much more sense. His story telling is great. For those seeking to learn more about where you have been and where you desire to go. I would recommend the conference first then the book.
Sep 04, 2015 Lauren rated it really liked it
This book will drive you to dig deeper into who you really are and what you want to get out of this world.
Aug 03, 2015 Aida added it
'A moment of shalom is a taste of life in Eden. It is life without sin, tragedy, emptiness, or fear...Recall moments of rest, safety, and warmth.'
Feb 26, 2011 Lacey rated it really liked it
We are reading this book for our Life Group bi-monthly (or so) discussions. One chapter down, which opened up the concept that we are co-authors in the ongoing story of our lives. In order to co-author our stories, however, we have to know our calling. The end of the first chapter suggests that we can know our calling by examining our histories. I am interested in reading on, and look forward to our group's discussions over these next several months.
Sep 22, 2011 Marie rated it it was ok
While the overall concept of reading your life as a story that has characters, plot, drama etc., is intriguing and helpful, this book fell short for me. It does have several profound moments but overall I didn't appreciate Allender's writing style. The book did however work well for creating discussion--I lead a small group of friends through this book this summer and if it weren't for our lively discussions I probably would have stopped reading this.
Dec 27, 2015 Von rated it really liked it
Great book about the importance of each of our stories. Ironically, it's probably over-told, and I felt it could have been done just as well in half as many word. Unlike many things I've read, though, the central ideas are with me permanently and I am a safer person to others for having read it. Allender knows a thing or two about healing and honouring the person we are and the stories we have lived.
Dara Crandalll
May 06, 2014 Dara Crandalll rated it really liked it
Good book. Lots of things to chew on, I was definitely grateful for the challenges it gave me.
Aug 11, 2011 Emily rated it really liked it
this was a cool book -- the concepts presented revolve around the importance of your life story as it has already been written -- and how that helps you see what could be next in life. definitely a worthwhile perspective! hits on the importance of recognizing God's work in your life in and through pain, the importance of taking risks, and the value of sharing stories in community.
Jan 03, 2014 Susan rated it it was amazing
I found this book intriguing. It may not be practical for everyone. I think, however, his writing illuminates a view of suffering that I can respect and use. I plan to add more dan Allender books to my "to-read" list.
May 04, 2015 Annie rated it it was ok
Not well written except for the guest writer in middle chapters. Vague self help without much scripture or science. Self-disclosures of embarrassing memories told without function other than making me cringe and feel sad for author. Allender has better stuff I think.
Oct 18, 2008 Claire rated it really liked it
Allender reminds me a lot of Eldredge. Both men are passionate about stories and people discovering and living out their own story. i would like to share more of my own life stories, as well as ask others their stories. Stories of rescue or God's provision. Stories of burning bushes or God's silence. i want to be more intentional in storytelling.
Apr 23, 2011 Bobby rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Very encouraging book. Asks the questions needed to help someone process and think through both what they've gone through and what God is doing. Need to read it again along with the workbook to really get the full effect. Highly recommend. Would be good to go through with another person.
Nov 21, 2014 Brenda rated it really liked it
I read/studied this book over the summer with some ladies from church. It didn't immediately help me figure out what to do with my life, but it provided direction and affirmed some things I've already learned. Chapter 10 was by far the best - I highlighted almost the entire thing!
Dec 31, 2007 Linda rated it it was amazing
A very unique way of looking at your past (no matter how dark it seems)and identifying the themes God has written there. You will see your past in a new light and understand both the hope and the heartache. This book enables me to see what God is doing and wants to do in my life.
Mike Bradham
Jul 05, 2011 Mike Bradham rated it liked it
This is one of those "write your story" books that you find in leadership and self-improvement programs. I found the structure to be helpful though and worth the effort to dig up the past to help us understand who we are and where we should be going (who God is making us to be).
Virginia Knowles
We each have a story in life, and we need to know it in order to move on effectively to the next chapter. Many of the themes in this book are familiar to me -- the deeper life, examining who you are. It is a good affirmation of what I have been learning in the past few years.
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Dan B. Allender, Ph.D, is a fly fisherman who also serves as president and professor of counseling at Mars Hill Graduate School near Seattle, Washington. He is a therapist in private practice, and a frequent speaker and seminar leader. Dan received his M.Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary and his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Michigan State University. He is the author of To Be Told: ...more
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“Fasting from any nourishment, activity, involvement or pursuit—for any season—sets the stage for God to appear. Fasting is not a tool to pry wisdom out of God's hands or to force needed insight about a decision. Fasting is not a tool for gaining discipline or developing piety (whatever that might be). Instead, fasting is the bulimic act of ridding ourselves of our fullness to attune our senses to the mysteries that swirl in and around us."—Dan B. Allender, PhD” 8 likes
“So take seriously the story that God has given you to live. It’s time to read your own life, because your story is the one that could set us all ablaze.” 6 likes
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