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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

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  4,618 ratings  ·  387 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 September 24th 1999 by Jossey-Bass (first published September 1st 1999)
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Let Your Life Speak by Parker J. PalmerFinding Your Own North Star by Martha N. BeckA Hidden Wholeness by Parker J. PalmerStrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom RathThe Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown
Vocation / calling / discernment
1st out of 32 books — 17 voters
The Power of Now by Eckhart TolleA New Earth by Eckhart TolleSmall Wonder by Barbara KingsolverThe House at Pooh Corner by A.A. MilneTao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Books that keep you sane
8th out of 88 books — 17 voters

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Community Reviews

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Sometimes our crises find us. We run; In my case, it was a failed engagement, a tenative jump to Portland, OR. This led to several years flailing about. Love affairs both meaningful and empty. A career change. New Meds. Bold new psychotherapies. Upgraded software.

No dice.

Every indicator on the dashboard was red, a little iconographic arrow flashing in yellow. The books that used to console me were empty, or page after page of disconnected garbage like Borges proverbial 'Book of Sand.'

The pastor
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
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
Leslie Reese
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
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-
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
Kasey Jueds
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Sean Howard
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.
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
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
Wow. Parker Palmer is a genius. Best book on vocation/finding life's work EVER. I adore Parker Palmer anyway for being so freaking wise, and this book is a superb example of his wisdom. Highly recommend it.
นังมองออกไปเหนวิวทองฟา สะพาน
แมจะเสียบหูฟังเพลง กยังไดยินเสียงเครืองเรือ
ไดสัมผัสลม นำทีกระเซนมาโดนหนา กลินทีลอยมาแตะจมูก
เพือเผชิญกับโลกทีอยูตรงหนา และรับรูเวลา วินาทีตอวินาที

หลังจากนันกอยูกับโลกทีหมุนเวียนไปเปนฤดูใหไดชืนชมและนอมรับกับชีวิตทีเคลือนไหว ไปกับสรรพสิงอืีน ๆ ในโลก และจักรวาลนี
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
My first grad school textbook -- SO obviously written by a man who does not have small children at home.
Michelle Murrain
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
Andy Hickman
Parker J. Palmer, “Let Your Life Speak:” A Philosophy of Vocation and Leadership.

I probably typed up more quotes from this book than any other book I've read.
Refreshing, liberating, insightful and honest. Everyone should read this book at least once in their life.

“Vocation does not come from willfulness. It comes from listening….Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. It means a calling that I hear” (p. 4).

“[There] is a great gulf between the way my ego wants to identify me, with it
A friend recommended Parker Palmer to me when she learned I was fascinated by some facets of the Quaker religion. I have read several of Palmer's books, and this is my favorite so far. Some wonderful quotes in this book, including one on p. 50 where he is talking about childhood experiences: "The God I was told about in church, and still hear about from time to time, runs about like an anxious schoolmaster measuring people's behavior with a moral yardstick. But the God I know today is the source ...more
The bad: unapologetically postmodernist in its humanism, often seeming as though it's appropriating Christian language for a universalist, new-age, postmodernist moral - the same mantra all millennials grew up with (and, in my opinion, are being wrecked by): be true to yourself, as though all the raw material for fulfilled personhood is inherent solely in the individual. He even implies a distrust of any external voice in the discernment of personal calling - something which I find altogether te ...more
Uwe Hook
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
Alex Stroshine
This is a short but precious book on discernment and vocation.

Having just read Matthew Hedstrom's "The Rise of Liberal Religion", I was a bit more sensitive to Palmer and his book than I would otherwise have been. Some portions of "Let Your Life Speak" reminded me of books featured in Hedstrom's tome. For instance, Parker J. Palmer, a Quaker, spends much of the book helping us understand the "true self," which reminded me of the influence of psychology on the thinking of liberal Protestantism du

Second time reading. This little book speaks to me. (Ha!) Among the questions that Palmer prompts for me - what is my native way of being in the world?

Not your conventional take on vocation and calling. Palmer speaks of our "original giftedness" & our "birthright gifts," our potential and our limitations. “Our created natures make us like organisms in an ecosystem: there are some roles and relationships in which we thrive and others in which we die.” (p.44)

“The God I know does not ask us t

Bailey Urban
Lots of things from thing book are tied into my own work and my own beliefs on society as well. From the importance of solitude to the fear of failure that all people have, I connected to this book on many levels. He made a good observation that made me think - we should consider deeply the things we know about ourselves as children to shed light on who we really are today. Palmer also points out that he found a way to teach in all of his jobs, and I think it's a good exercise to have people thi ...more
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.
We are all aging and if we choose not to be awake through the process of getting older then aging just happens to us without volition. It is seductively tempting to contemptuously eschew personal growth work, but as the author of this book says “if people skimp on their inner work, their outer work will suffer as well.” Manufacturing is a weak metaphor for how to live— we don’t make our lives, we don’t make time, money and love. We grow, and that growth will be aberrant, even cancerous if we don ...more
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.
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Trinity Episcopal...: Let Your Life Speak (discussion) 1 6 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
  • This Odd and Wondrous Calling: The Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers
  • Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life
  • Following the Path: The Search for a Life of Passion, Purpose, and Joy
  • Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives
  • Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
  • The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture
  • Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith
  • Devotional Classics: Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups
  • Getting Involved with God: Rediscovering the Old Testament
  • Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin's Path to God
  • Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter
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...
The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life To Know as We are Known: Education as a Spiritual Journey Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit The Active Life: A Spirituality of Work, Creativity, and Caring

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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.” 136 likes
“Each time a door closes, the rest of the world opens up.” 21 likes
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