This is the first blog in a thirteen part series based on “Every Good Endeavor” by Tim Keller.
For the last few weeks, I have been reading a book by Tim Keller called “Every Good Endeavor.” Tim Keller the lead pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York. He has a doctorate, he has successfully published many books, and was a professor. And through all of that, he has gained a whole heck of a lot of knowledge and wisdom in the area of work.
I am going to be blogging on each chapter’s main point, while inserting my own thoughts and practical applications along the way. I guarantee you will find benefit through this and if you aren’t 100% satisfied, I’ll give you your money back :)!
In a day and age when everything is all about me (or you if you’re reading this), the thought of others-focused work is a bit foreign. I mean don’t get me wrong, most every job out there serves someone else. If you make a product, someone else consumes it. If you provide a service, someone else needs (or wants) it. But for the super-majority of the population, if you did not benefit from your job, whether it be pay or recognition, you would not do the job. This is a distorted way of serving our customers and one that must be rethought. Robert Bellah, in his book Habits of the Heart says:
“To make a real difference…[there would have to be] a reappropriation of the idea of vocation or calling, a return in a new way to the idea of work as a contribution to the good of all and not merely as a means to one’s own advancement.”
How do you view your business or your job? How would you view that same job if nobody knew it was you doing it or worse yet, if you didn’t get paid? Additionally, if we view our vocation as nothing more than a means to an end, it will end up destroying us as we continually seek more fulfillment. This destruction is realized through stress, anxiety, and an awful work/life balance.
I believe that we have been called by God to the very job we do (this is also one of Tim Keller’s main threads throughout the book). That can be a Fortune 500 CEO, a delivery driver, or a line cook at the local breakfast joint. By seeing our job as a calling from God, we can “elevate the purpose of work from making a living to loving our neighbor and at the same time removes us from the crushing burden of working primarily to prove ourselves.”
I find it so sad to see so many people trying to “prove” themselves to themselves. Yes, I said that right. Many people I work with, especially entrepreneurs, have a hard time seeing the value they have to offer and so they just beat themselves up trying to validate what they do. The sad thing is that they have already validated themselves but are too blind to see it.
“Everyone imagines accomplishing things, and everyone finds him – or herself largely incapable of producing them.” Tim Keller
Have you found yourself trying to prove yourself to yourself? If you are working hard, and doing everything you can to accomplish the goals you have set for yourself, then that’s all you can do. One of my favorite quotes is from C.S. Lewis and he says:
“It is not your business to succeed but to do what is right; when you have done so, the rest lies with God.”
With all my heart I am convinced that every good result is in the hands of God (James 1:17). This allows me to rest in the fact that I don’t have to live with a measuring stick. I can live in comfort knowing that my best is ALWAYS good enough. And if that wasn’t awesome enough, because I believe in God, and he called me to this work, I know that the fruits of my labor will be enjoyed for all of eternity as part of God’s master plan!
I will finish this introduction with Tim Keller’s last paragraph in his introduction.
“In order to work this way, you need to know the Bible’s answers to three questions: Why do you want to work? (That is, why do we need to work in order to lead a fulfilled life?) Why is it so hard to work? (That is, why is it often fruitless, pointless, and difficult?) How can we overcome the difficulties and find satisfaction in our work through the gospel?”
Until my next post on this topic, get out there and work your heart out!