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Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation
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Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation

4.2  ·  Rating Details ·  5,736 Ratings  ·  481 Reviews
With wisdom, compassion, and gentle humor, Parker J. Palmer invites us to listen to the inner teacher and follow its leadings toward a sense of meaning and purpose. Telling stories from his own life and the lives of others who have made a difference, he shares insights gained from darkness and depression as well as fulfillment and joy, illuminating a pathway toward vocatio ...more
Hardcover, 117 pages
Published 2000 by Jossey-Bass
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Jul 08, 2011 Jen rated it it was amazing
I read this too fast, like eating an incredibly rich piece of cake that gives you a stomachache and a desire to never eat again. I read this too fast, because it's only 109 pages, and these days that's a Post-It note to me in a world of dissertations.
I will buy this book, and I will read it again, and I will take at least ten minutes for each page.

The thing about Palmer's writing is not that it is lofty or erudite or accompanied by some hidden soundtrack of thunderous drums and resonant string s
Thomas Holbrook
Jan 30, 2012 Thomas Holbrook rated it it was amazing
A friend whose Spiritual walk has given me a deeper understanding of courage and integrity suggested I may like this little book. I quickly became aware that the only thing diminutive about this tome was its size. When I began reading it, given the few pages it contained and the dimensions of those pages, I thought I would be finished reading it in a few hours. I spent 30 minutes reading the first five pages, I would read a paragraph and stare into the Middle Distance for five minutes consideri ...more
Kasey Jueds
Dec 24, 2009 Kasey Jueds rated it really liked it
When you're totally confused about a major life issue, it's so much nicer to think about what you're going through as a "process of discernment" rather than just a mess. I really appreciate Parker Palmer's gentle, thoughtful way of exploring how to make choices by being our best, truest selves, instead of thinking about what we should do or what we think other people want us to do. He also explores depression as a way of discovering that true self; not that he recommends becoming depressed, but ...more
Leslie Reese
Oct 20, 2014 Leslie Reese rated it really liked it
This is a small book both in page count and actual size but it packs much thought-provoking, soulful stuff. I took notes in my journal in order to be able to return the book to the library on time. Originally, I wanted to read it because I am one of those birds who---no matter how many years I live---I am always trying to ascertain if I am in the right place at the right time doing the right thing! This book doesn't talk about "vocation" as one's fantasy job or bread and butter career, but more ...more
May 25, 2007 Jonathan rated it liked it
With warmth and wisdom throughout, Palmer describes in a most linear fashion his own triumphs and travails from institutions of many kinds: social, spiritual, and higher education. He is as inclined to quote some calming poetry as he is to lecture on leadership. He taps all the right people for their own thoughts on life and leading (Buechner, Dillard, Rilke, Rumi) and organizes the book's five chapters beneath simple metaphors--the changing of seasons, and those in one's life. He loves an analo ...more
Jan 19, 2012 Iris rated it it was amazing
I was reluctant to read this in a time when so few jobs are available; wouldn't it be worse to know my "calling" when there's little or no opportunity to practice it? In fact, there is no better book to help me confront and enlighten such pessimism. No matter if I never find a dream job, I still have a vocation. Palmer writes about big ideas in a small, quiet, reflective tone; I can't wait to read more of his work.

Though his book was given to me at an Episcopal group for underemployed recession-
Nov 11, 2012 Ryandake rated it liked it
a book which posits a question that it doesn't quite answer: how is one to know one's vocation when it calls?

at a certain point in life, those of us who have not found perfect satisfaction with life start asking Big Questions: what am i here for? how can i find my purpose, since my dissatisfaction is evidence that heretofore i have not? what can i know with certainty about choosing a new path to set my feet upon?

this is not the same question as: what job should i be doing? vocation and bill-payi
May 18, 2013 JP rated it it was amazing
Certain books prove that it takes depth of experience and a lot of contemplation in order to be both profound and concise. Parker Palmer is one such case. If his experiences haven't been as harrowing as Frankl's or as isolated as Merton's, they are in some ways more directly relevant to the modern experience of career's as a quest for fulfillment. Palmer has been an academic, a social worker, a teacher, and a writer, not to mention what can only be described as a Quaker-monastic. The summary sen ...more
Jun 14, 2010 Brittany rated it did not like it
I tried to like this book because Palmer had some really good messages to get across, but unfortunately I found his writing way too self-indulgent and dramatic. The book is barely over 100 pages but it took me forever to read because I kept getting so frustrated and annoyed with the author's voice. I also disagreed with the main premise of the book that we all have a destiny....I think we make our own.
Oct 04, 2010 Jon rated it did not like it
Shelves: books-read-2010
Received the book through a subscription I used to have from the Leadership Institute - called Leader to Leader. Book's premise is to find Leadership or vocation through inner truth. It is extremely spiritual and existential writing. I got lost in some parts about the book struggling to find the author's point. I did gain some valuable perspective with the examples he gave of Vaclav Havel - former President of the Czech Republic - who through the absolute depths of despair from communist rule ro ...more
Sep 07, 2010 April rated it it was ok
For Senior Seminar in English.

It's hard for me to rate this book, because I feel like I was told to go about it in a wrong sort of fashion. It was the first book assigned for my senior seminar in English--a class designed to help us figure out what to do with an English Major.
The Prof assigned this book to be read in a week, and told the class (more than once), that it could be "easily read in a sitting." About 30-40 pages into the book, I realized that that was not the best way to go about a
Mar 24, 2012 Francisco rated it it was amazing
This is a deeply spiritual book (though not necessarily religious) about discovering and listening to those promptings that guide us towards our unique life's purpose. It is a sad book for in reading you will see the many times you ignored Life's call. But it is also full of hope, life-affirming, life changing hope. For there is yet time. There is all the time you need.
Sean Howard
Apr 13, 2015 Sean Howard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In a world filled with quick fixes and productivity porn, we can forget to listen to the voice inside of us. The voice that calls out for something more, something real. This book is one of my Magic Five. It is one of the books I turn to when I realize I am drifting and struggling to find peace, happiness or confidence in life. A true resource for finding and releasing our purpose into our lives.
Mar 16, 2009 Ladan rated it really liked it
Recommendation from Reverend Jim

Interesting reading about his lifepath and seeing some struggles similar to my own. His honesty in describing his vocational path is refreshing.

"We arrive in this world with birthrights- then we spend the first half of our lives abandoning them or letting others disabuse us of them. As young people, we are surrounded by expectations that may have little to do with who we really are, expectations help by people who are not trying to discern our selfhood but to fit
Nov 10, 2015 Jeremy rated it it was amazing
Immediate re-read, which is rare for me. A very timely book.

"Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent." - Pg 3.

Vocation does not come from willfulness. It comes from listening. I must listen to my life and try to understand what it is truly about - quite apart from what I would like it
Mar 12, 2016 John added it
Palmer writes with great clarity on a subject so difficult to describe using the crude symbols of words: the inner journey back to oneself. It's a carefully calibrated mixture of his personal experience and the generalized truths that emerged on the subject of what to do with your life (which, as he writes, is about what your life does with you). Coming from his own personal experience, he comes across as a true guide. Some favorite excerpts:

pg 11
There is a Hasidic tale that reveals, with amazin
Sep 17, 2016 Mike rated it it was amazing
One of my top 5 books of all time. This was revolutionary in helping me discover who God has called me to BE, not DO. I don't necessarily agree with Palmer's thrust of having vocation and calling line up, or even if they are the same thing, but this helped me discover the threads of my life that are who God has called me to be.

This is the book I give to all graduating seniors from high school.
Uwe Hook
Dec 25, 2014 Uwe Hook rated it it was amazing
Why you should read this book:

"Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent."

"Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. It means a calling that I hear. Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling the who I am. I must listen for the truths and val
Daniel Seifert
Palmer invites the reader to consider and to follow deeply one's identity or sense of "calling" via the telling of his own story and with an illumination of various thoughts, texts, and poetry that support the premise that genuine vocation joins self and service. Detecting, pursuing and actualizing such vocation can become "the place where your deep gladness meets the worlds's deep need" (quoting F Buechner). Palmer is not unrealistic showing that such of life pursuit does not come without a "jo ...more
Jan 08, 2016 heather rated it it was amazing
read again today--a necessity in this changing season. 4.5
Some favorite reminders:
"Until we enter boldly into the fears we most want to avoid, those fears will dominate our lives. But when we walk directly into them – protected from frostbite by the warm garb of friendship or inner discipline or spiritual guidance – we can learn what they have to teach us. Then we discover once again that the cycle of the seasons is trustworthy and life-giving, even in the most dismaying season of all."
Nadine Tewaditep
Jun 20, 2016 Nadine Tewaditep rated it really liked it
ไดรับการแนะนำเกียวกับหนังสือเลมนีจากพีเพชร ราน House of Commons ทีถนนเจริญนครคะ

Let Your Life Speak เปนหนังสือทีเปียมไปดวยความการุณย ความรูสึกดีๆ ทีอยากจะชวยนำพาคนหลงทางและเผชิญความสับสนในชีวิตใหออกจากปารกชัฏในคืนอันมืดมิด เราชอบทีคนเขียนใชเวลา 70% ของเลมบรรยายชวงทุกขยากของชีวิตเขาซึงตองเผชิญกับโรคซึมเศรา จนตองพบแพทยในทีสุด

ขอคิดทรงพลังของชาวเควกเกอรยอดเยียมมาก... ทำใหมองหนทางทีปิดตายในมุมทีเปลียนไป เหมือนกับการทดลองของนักวิทยาศาสตร การทดลองแตละครังกคือการทดสอบสมมติฐานวาทีคาดการณไวจะตรงตามทีคาดหรื
Jun 05, 2016 Susan rated it it was amazing
"What do you want?" An insightful personal journey of discovering one's vocation. The message is to live one's life authentically, by remembering who we were when we were children. When we believed in our dreams without fear, without criticism, conformity and confusion. When our unique gifts and passions were pure and unpolluted. Mr. Palmer allows us, through revealing his own personal life journey, to feel less isolated and lost, and encourages us to reconcile our shadow selves with our deepest ...more
Sep 02, 2015 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thought provoking and moving

I probably wouldn't have bought this book if I'd realized it was from a Christian perspective, but I'm glad I didn't know. For one thing, the Christian perspective here is based on Quaker philosophies. For another, I found the ideas expressed in the book to be universal, even though the author often used specifically Christian language. The focus of the book is on our mistaken thinking around life purpose as something we DO rather than something we ARE. The author has
Feb 25, 2011 Kellyann rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology, non-fiction
I bought this book because it kept getting mentioned in other books and articles I was reading, and even alluded to in songs I was listening to (Parker Palmer and Carrie Newcomer are friends and colleagues). But when I ordered it from my local bookstore, it didn't feel like it was time to read it yet; then all of a sudden it was time, and it just opened up a number of issues for me: the relationship between discernment and depression, the need to ride down into the darkness to get through to the ...more
Priscilla Lotfy
May 21, 2016 Priscilla Lotfy rated it it was amazing
This is a tremendously helpful book that I frequently found was speaking directly to my life, my situation, our world, even the politics of the current election cycle. The main message is to try to return to that true self you were created to be. He shares his own personal struggles and quotes from a variety of well known authors such as May Sarton, Henri Nouwen, and Thomas Merton. One take away message for me was; the only way to find your true self is to look within, to travel through even the ...more
Michelle Murrain
May 26, 2013 Michelle Murrain rated it really liked it
This is just a fabulous book. It is a look at what "vocation" really means, in a deep sense. My favorite quote: "What a long time it can take to become the person one has always been!"

It's a wonderful book to read wherever you might be in your process around vocation - it's especially good when you are in a transitional mode, or just deeply conflicted about what direction to go in.

It is short, and doesn't go very deep, but that's really OK. It's also deeply personal, but it is good to hear from
Shari McCullough
Mar 10, 2014 Shari McCullough rated it it was amazing
Have only read this Palmer book once. I'm inspired to read it again today! It's a jump start to anyone who has become stalled, ineffective, unrealized along the journey of life.

"The world still waits for the truth that will set us free -- my truth, your truth, our truth -- the truth that was seeded in the earth when each of us arrived here formed in the image of God. Cultivating that truth, I believe, is the authentic vocation of every human being." Parker Palmer
May 22, 2015 Jeejy rated it it was amazing
นังมองออกไปเหนวิวทองฟา สะพาน
แมจะเสียบหูฟังเพลง กยังไดยินเสียงเครืองเรือ
ไดสัมผัสลม นำทีกระเซนมาโดนหนา กลินทีลอยมาแตะจมูก
เพือเผชิญกับโลกทีอยูตรงหนา และรับรูเวลา วินาทีตอวินาที

หลังจากนันกอยูกับโลกทีหมุนเวียนไปเปนฤดูใหไดชืนชมและนอมรับกับชีวิตทีเคลือนไหว ไปกับสรรพสิงอืีน ๆ ในโลก และจักรวาลนี
Aug 20, 2007 Letitia rated it did not like it
There seems to be an epidemic of inflicting this drivel on poor recent graduates. DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK AS A GIFT FOR ANYONE THAT YOU KNOW! It is meaningless, cliche, indulgent, and ultimately preaches a very self-focused message. There are so many better ways to figure out what to do with your life than reading Palmer's inane prattling.
Jan 12, 2009 Reed rated it did not like it
I don't like giving bad reviews or negatively critiquing the works of others, but this is hands down the worst book I've ever read. It was stale, dry, and a chore to get through. If I hadn't been reading it with a group of friends, I never would have finished it. Instead of a slam, please consider this review a warning.
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Trinity Episcopal...: Let Your Life Speak (discussion) 1 8 Jul 03, 2013 09:59AM  
  • Listening to Your Life: Daily Meditations with Frederick Buechner
  • An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith
  • Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith
  • Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life
  • Following the Path: The Search for a Life of Passion, Purpose, and Joy
  • This Odd and Wondrous Calling: The Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers
  • Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith
  • The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture
  • The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery
  • Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life
  • Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
  • Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas
  • Jesus Freak: Feeding Healing Raising the Dead
  • Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin's Path to God
  • Practicing Resurrection: A Memoir of Work, Doubt, Discernment, and Moments of Grace
  • Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction
Parker J. Palmer (Madison, WI) is a writer, teacher and activist whose work speaks deeply to people in many walks of life. Author of eight books--including the bestsellers Courage to Teach, Let Your Life Speak, and A Hidden Wholeness--his writing has been recognized with ten honorary doctorates and many national awards, including the 2010 William Rainey Harper Award (previously won by Margaret Mea ...more
More about Parker J. Palmer...

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“Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.” 162 likes
“Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.” 37 likes
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