“Is the life I am living the same as the life that wants to live in me?” It’s a simple but profound question from one of my favorite books, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation. In it, author Parker Palmer shares his journey toward discovering his true calling as a writer and teacher through years of challenges, missteps, and obstacles.
One of my favorite stories describes when Palmer came before what Quakers refer to as a “clearness committee” to discern whether he should accept an offer to become president of a small educational institution. After hours of open and honest questioning, Palmer was asked a seemingly easy question about what he would like most about the position. After minutes of rattling off a laundry list of what he wouldn’t like about it, he confessed, “I guess what I’d like most is getting my picture in the paper with the word president under it.” After moments of silence, one of the committee members responded, “Parker, can you think of an easier way to get your picture in the paper?” Through this discernment process, he realized that pride was a driving force in his attraction to the job, so he later declined the offer. This story is one of several that showcased Palmer’s humility and vulnerability. The chapter titled, “All the Way Down,” is another in which he shared his struggles with debilitating clinical depression.
This book helped me dig deeper into my vocational questions as I sought God’s calling for my life. Several of Palmer’s experiences reminded me not only to consider my gifts but also my limitations. This 128-page book is packed with nuggets of wisdom and personal stories — it will make you think and challenge you to answer the simple but profound questions of why we do what we do.
Whether you are encountering obstacles with your vocation or just in need of some inspiration, I encourage you to read Let Your Life Speak.