Book Review: The Seamless Life

By Meryl Herr

April 19, 2024

Article, De Pree Journal

Name of Book: The Seamless Life: A Tapestry of Love and Learning, Worship and Work

Author: Steven Garber

What’s the “Big Idea”?
Through a series of brief essays, Steve Garber gives us a vision of the good life, shaped by the story of redemption and marked by increasing coherence. According to Garber, as we live with hope, yearning for all to be made right, we can pursue lives of deep meaning. We can listen to our lives and longings to help us discern our vocations, which can be expressed in any number of occupations. And we can respond to what we have seen and come to know through acts of love. Our work—paid or unpaid, seen or unseen—can be an expression of love, giving a taste of the good life in our spheres of influence.

Drawing on lessons from film, literature, people he’s met, and his own life, Garber gives us a glimpse of what a “seamless life” can look like. But he does so with deep respect for the frailty and finitude of humans and the deep brokenness of the world. He’s not idealistic. Instead, he’s hopefully realistic, reminding us that, with God’s help, we can approximate the good life even when we can’t achieve it perfectly.

Each carefully crafted essay shares the reflections of a sage who has thought long and deep on some of life’s essential questions as well as those questions that have arisen from his sense of vocation. Garber is a fount of wisdom. Reading and reflecting on the thoughts he presents in this book helps us cultivate a wisdom of our own.

Why It Matters to Our Life, Work, and Leadership

  • In our time, the word “vocation” has become synonymous with “occupation.” Many people equate their job with their calling. Garber reminds us that vocation and occupation are not the same thing. Our vocation is tied to our core motivations and longings; it’s rooted in who we are. We can live out our vocation to various degrees in a variety of occupations. This gives us tremendous freedom as we consider how to steward our vocation in our life, work, and leadership.
  • Amidst the change and brokenness we observe and feel within and around us, we desire lives of integrity—where we can be our most authentic selves and fully live what we believe in every context. Garber reminds us that this desire for coherence is holy. It’s God-given and redemption-shaped. Even though this sort of seamless life may feel elusive, we can pursue it and we shouldn’t feel guilty or selfish for doing so. As we move toward coherence, we can bring some of our best gifts to this world.

Favorite Quotes

  1. “The words vocation and occupation more often than not thread their way through my conversations, and I do my best to make clear that there is a difference and why the difference is important. The one is a word about the deepest things, the longest truths about each of us: what we care about, what motivates us, why we get up in the morning. The other is a word about what we do day by day, occupying particular responsibilities and relationships along the way as we live into our vocations. They aren’t the same word, and understanding that matters.”
  2. “We keep stumbling, longing for more coherent lives, where what we confess to believe looks like the way we actually live, where our deepest hearts are seamlessly worked out in the responsibilities and relationships of our lives.”
  3. “Grace, always amazing, slowly, slowly makes its way in and through us, giving us eyes to see that a good life is one marked by the holy coherence between what we believe and how we live, personally and publicly—in our worship as well as our work—where our vision of vocation threads its way through all that we think and say and do.”

Meryl Herr

Director of Research and Resources

Dr. Meryl Herr is the Director of Research and Resources at the Max De Pree Center for Leadership where she designs and conducts research studies that add to the understanding of what helps marketplace leaders flourish. She also oversees the team’s efforts to convert research findings into r...

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Comments (1)

  1. P. R. Hmuaka

    April 24, 2024

    6:43 pm

    Thank you for the valuable review.