Life Lessons From A Bad Quaker: Book Review

I am excited to share my review of “Life Lessons From A Bad Quaker:  A Humble Stumble Towards Simplicity and Grace” by J. Brent Bill.  J. Brent Bill is a writer, photographer, popular speaker, retreat leader, and a Quaker minister.  You can learn more about J. Brent Bill at

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I thoroughly enjoyed “Life Lessons From A Bad Quaker“.  J. Brent Bill is hilarious. He is witty. He is honest. He is raw. He is not afraid to tell it like it is. “Which is one reason I’m a Quaker today. I need to be. It challenges me. It rubs up against the parts of me that need smoothed out.”

Let me share a few lessons that J. Brent Bill learned that resonated with me.

Busy Outwardly, Centered and Silently Inward

“I have learned that growing deep in the life of the Spirit doesn’t take me out of the life I’m living.” Yes. This is so true. In order to truly live, one needs to go deep in the life of the Spirit.

The outer life is only as good as the inner life. This will take time! We need to keep at it. “Busy outwardly, centered and silently inwardly. Speaking from experience, it’s not gonna happen overnight.”

Shut Up

“So even though God speaks to me constantly, I’m just not listening. That’s why I need silence.” If we want to hear God speak we need to shut up. I think J. Brent Bill would agree with me say it so bluntly.


“We believe that God always has something to teach us about being people of faith in our current times. So we ask lots of questions hoping to find out how to live godly lives.” Quakers ask lots of questions. I loved all of the questions that were sprinkled throughout each chapter.

I often found myself reading a question and then taking five minutes to meditate on my answers to this question. I jotted down multiple one sentence answers to each question. Questions help us grow. I grew as I read this book.


“Cumbered” is how early Quakers referred to the way the things we own (or think we own) weigh us down and steal attention away from the life of the Spirit.” I wondered the same thing. What takes me away from the life of the Spirit? Is it my iPhone or iPad ? Is it Facebook and or Twitter? Perhaps it is being annoyed at others, the traffic jam I am stuck in or the never ending household chores that seem to always pop up?

SOB Prayer

“My good friend Connie taught me what she calls the SOB prayer. I use it a lot: “God, give that SOB everything I would hope for myself to be made happy, whole, and free.”  It is a fact. We will not like everybody we come across. I am sure there are plenty of people that do not like me.

However, that person is still a child of God. God loves them just as much as God loves me. I still need to pray for them. I still need to love them. “God loves everybody as much as God loves me? If that’s true, I’d better start treating people better.”

God’s Green Earth

“There are plenty of things I could do. The issue is what is God calling me to do.” I pulled this out of the chapter, “God’s Good Green Earth”. If I get quiet, I just might hear what it is that God calls me to do to take better care of mother earth. We and this includes me, forget and take for granted that God has blessed us with this beautiful earth. We and this means me, need to take better care of it. What is God calling me to do?

Next Steps

Read “Life Lessons From A Bad Quaker“. Take the time to meditate on the questions sprinkled throughout each chapter. Is your faith challenging you and rubbing up against the parts of you that need to be smoothed out? Quiet yourself! What actions are God calling you to take?

Go Further:

Beauty, Truth, Life, and Love: Four Essentials for the Abundant Life  by J. Brent Bill, NEW

Holy Silence by J. Brent Bill

Sacred Compass:  The Way of Spiritual Discernment, by J. Brent Bill

 Life Lessons from a Bad Quaker: A Humble Stumble Toward Simplicity and Grace by J. Brent Bill

Finding God in the Verbs: Crafting a Fresh Language of Prayer by J. Brent Bill

 Mind the Light: Learning to See with Spiritual Eyes by J. Brent Bill

Holy Silence: The Quaker Way by J. Brent Bill:  Quaker silence is not about stillness, as such, but rather about encountering God in a living and vital holy hush. This e-course encourages women and men to undertake a journey of spiritual silence. The destination is a quiet inner place where God teaches us directly. Friends (as Quakers are formally known) have been honing their take on silence for more than 350 years. It’s a silence that invites us to an immediate and personal encounter with God. That’s because Quakers believe that when we are silent, then the Spirit of God grants us insights, guidance, and understanding of spiritual truth.



2 thoughts on “Life Lessons From A Bad Quaker: Book Review

  1. Hi Rich,your book picks are interesting and make me ponder truth in different ways. Thanks for sharing. My takeaway from this one is that I need to keep my mind focused on loving others because God made and loves them. That’s a good reminder.

    1. Hi Norma
      Thanks for sharing your takeaway! I enjoyed Brent’s book. I had a chance to meet Brent at a book reading he did in December. He shared Holy Silence, another one of his book’s that I read and reviewed too.

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