Timothy Keller begins Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by asserting the importance of recovering the idea of vocation- that all human work is not merely a job, but a calling in which we share God’s providential love with others as “the fingers of God”. Pastor Keller cites writer Dorothy Sayers, who once stated that “work is not, primarily, a thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do.” Work has dignity in and of itself; thus all types of work have dignity. As the author strongly emphasizes: “Simple physical labor is God’s work no less than the formulation of theological truth.”
Without meaningful work, however, we sense significant loss and emptiness. We need work to thrive emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Indeed, adverse events in our lives cannot stand alone- we must place them into some type of narrative structure. Pastor Keller adds that “people can’t make sense of anything without attaching it to a story line.” The key is to get our story right by understanding that creation, which is good, is not the source of evil. Sin is the villain, an alien intruder that infects us all. On the other hand, if work becomes the sole purpose of life, we create an idol (defined by the author as a good thing turned into an ultimate thing) that rivals God. Such idolatry can be avoided by “serving the work”, an act in which work becomes a labor of pure love.
Ultimately, Pastor Keller tells us, our identity and significance must be tethered to Christ- not our job (or lack thereof) status- as we find our “rest under the rest” in Him. This rest becomes an act of trust in God’s providence and sovereignty.
Whether you currently are employed, underemployed, or job searching, Timothy Keller provides an excellent resource for evaluating your vocation in the light of God’s Word.