Author: Tim Keller
Because of sin, work is hard. Because of God, work is good. Because of God’s work, sin is being undone. God worked. We’re supposed to. It’s a way we image Him. Because God in flesh worked like none of us ever have, because he sweat drops of blood and bore the heaviest of burdens, we can again worship God in our work. Tim Keller’s Every Good Endeavor looks at work as it was meant to be, as it is because of sin, and how the gospel changes things. If you work, you should read this book. If you don’t work, you should work, and this book will help you to do so in a God glorifying way.
Work is our design and our dignity; it also a way to serve God through creativity, particularly in the creation of culture.
Work has dignity because it is something that God does and because we do it in God’s place, as his representatives. We learn not only that work has dignity in itself, but also that all kinds of work have dignity. God’s own work in Genesis 1 and 2 is “manual” labor, as he shapes us out of the dust of the earth, deliberately putting a spirit in a physical body, and as he plants a garden (Genesis 2:8). It is hard for us today to realize how revolutionary this idea has been in the history of human thinking. Minister and author Phillip Jensen puts it this way: ‘If God came into the world, what would he be like? For the ancient Greeks, he might have been a philosopher-king. The ancient Romans might have looked for a just and noble statesman. But how does the God of the Hebrews come into the world? As a carpenter.’
The applications of this dictum—that competent work is a form of love—are many. Those who grasp this understanding of work will still desire to succeed but will not be nearly as driven to overwork or made as despondent by poor results. If it is true, then if you have to choose between work that benefits more people and work that pays you more, you should seriously consider the job that pays less and helps more particularly if you can be great at it. It means that all jobs—not merely so-called helping professions—are fundamentally ways of loving your neighbor. Christians do not have to do direct ministry or nonprofit charitable work in order to love others through their jobs.