“Every Good Endeavor” by Timothy Keller

Recently, my family came together during a difficult time, when my father had a stroke.  As we gathered together in the hospital, often our conversations would turn to our memories of the words of wisdom he had shared over the years.  Some of it was quite funny, but all of it was wise, so I thought it would be appropriate to share some of the wisdom I have learned from him through the years.  Some are a repeat of previous posts (because I had already been sharing his wisdom), and some are topics I haven’t shared before.  My father went home to be with His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on Sunday, May 8, 2016.  I grieve at the loss of my hero, mentor, and friend, but I rejoice at the celebration of his arrival in heaven.

This week, I am sharing a review of book that reflects some of the great lessons about work that he taught me.

Every Good Endeavor, Keller, coverI learned a lot from my father about the value of work, about work ethic, and about how to work well. He taught me things like, “ always give eight hours of work for eight hours of pay,” “work so that you make yourself more valuable to them than they are to you,” and “always leave in such a way that you’ll be welcome back.” He didn’t just teach me these (and many other) things, he lived them by example, and as a result I believe that today, as an adult, I work hard and I work well, in a way that honors God, serves others, and reflects excellence. Thank you, dad, for teaching me how to work.

As I was thinking about this over the last couple of months, I also heard a pastor at my church preach a message on work from Ecclesiastes, and he referenced a couple of other specific books, so, like I usually do when I hear a good book referenced that seems applicable to my life at that moment, I ordered them. One of those was the book Every Good Endeavor, by Timothy Keller, which I found to be an excellent book that looks at work from a biblical, Christ-redeeming point of view. Keller essentially walks through three steps:

  1. Work was modeled by God and given to us as something joyful and valuable, designed for the benefit of God, others, and us.
  2. When sin entered into the world (and by extension, into ourselves and into our work), the true purpose, value, and joy of work became and continues to be distorted and difficult.
  3. The redemption by Christ and the cross, in the process of redeeming our souls, also began the process of redeeming the work that we do, restoring its purpose and value.

The result, according to Keller, is that a saving relationship with Jesus Christ now gives us freedom from work – the realization that the fruit of our labor is not dependent on us, but actually rests in God’s hands, so all we have to do is serve in the work we’ve been given by the Father. It also now gives us freedom in our work – the ability and capability to work sacrificially, following the example of Jesus and working for God’s glory, and sacrificing ourselves for the good of others.

I found this to be a quite refreshing and biblical look at the value of work, and how we should be approaching the work we are doing regardless of what that job is. It seems that often people spend their time looking at the grass that appears to be greener on the other side of the fence of that “dream job,” rather than seeing how they can serve God in the tasks they have been presently given. If you have been struggling with finding meaning in your work, or with understanding what it means to work well, or with seeing your job as a calling, then I would recommend this book to you. I am grateful for the lessons on work that my dad taught me, and so for me, this book brought both affirmation and clarity to those lessons. Perhaps you haven’t had those lessons, in which case, get it and read it. It will help you to see your work through the lens of Jesus.

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