Monday, February 14, 2011

Clearness committee

After my post about 'Let your life speak' a dear pal in Canada was amazed that having never heard of Palmer he had included a quote by him in his Sunday sermon and then I blog about him in the very same week. He sent the quote to me:

"It can also help to listen to the voices of others. The Quakers have what they call a “clearness committee”—a small group of persons who know Christ and know us to help us discern what we think God might be saying to
us or leading us to do.

That’s what Parker Palmer employed when this gifted educator was offered the presidency of an educational institution. In his book, Let Your Life Speak, Palmer recounts how he had been growing in prominence and renown in educational circles. One institution determined that meant he would make a good president. So they offered him the job. Career-wise it was a no-brainer—more money, more power, more prestige, more influence—a no-brainer. Parker said he had pretty much already decided to accept the job, but he still invited a clearness committee to help him sort out God’s voice in all of that. At first they asked easy questions about vision for the school and leadership practices and the like. And then one of his friends asked this question: “What would you like about being president?” Oddly enough, Parker had to think about this one for awhile. “Well,” he said, “I wouldn't like the politics of it, wouldn't’t like fund-raising, wouldn’t like having to give up my study and my teaching.”

“That wasn’t the question,” his friend said. “I asked you what you would like about being president.”

“I’m coming to that,” said Parker as he continued to list things he
wouldn’t like about the job. The questioner asked for a third time. And Palmer writes:

I felt compelled to give the only honest answer I possessed, an
answer that came from the very bottom of my barrel, an answer
that appalled even me as I spoke it. “Well,” I said, in the smallest voice I possess, “I guess what I would like most is getting my picture in the paper with the word president under it.”

Palmer thought they would laugh, but they didn’t. They sat in silence contemplating what Palmer had just said. Finally, the questioner broke the silence and said, “Parker, can you think of an easier way to get your name in the paper?” The response cracked up the group and cracked open Palmer’s
heart. He turned down the job. He decided to stick with calling instead of career.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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