I’ve had some busy people pick up Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work, look at the subtitle, and ask: “OK, so, in a nutshell, how does God’s work connect to our work?” Always a good exercise for an author, to be asked to explain your book in just a few minutes! Here are four ways Christian faith influences and shapes our work.
First, the Christian faith gives us a moral compass, an inner GPS giving us ethical guidance that takes us beyond merely the legal aspects or requirements in any situation. A Christian on the board of a major financial institution—recently publicly embarrassed by revelations of corruption—told me about a closed door meeting there between top executives. Someone said, “We have to restore moral values.” Immediately someone asked, “Whose values? Who gets to define what is moral?” And there’s our problem. There once was a habitus of broadly felt moral intuitions that governed much behavior in our society. It went well beyond the legal. Much of the ruthlessness, the lack of transparency, and lack of integrity that characterizes the marketplace and many other professions today come because consensus on those moral intuitions has collapsed. But Christians working in those worlds do have solid ethical guidance and could address through personal example the values-vacuum that has now been recognized by so many.
Second, your Christian faith gives you a new spiritual power, an inner gyroscope, that keeps you from being overthrown by either success, failure, or boredom. Regarding success and failure, the gospel helps Christians find their deepest identity not in our accomplishments but who we are in Christ. This keeps our egos from inflating too much during seasons of prosperity, and it prevents bitterness and despondency during times of adversity. But while some jobs seduce us into over-work and anxiety, others tempt us to surrender to drudgery, only “working for the weekend,” doing just what is necessary to get by when someone is watching. Paul calls that “eye-service” (Colossians 3:22–24) and charges us to think of every job as working for God, who sees everything and loves us. That makes high-pressure jobs bearable and even the most modest work meaningful.
Read next week’s Fax of Life for the other two ways that Christian faith impacts our work life. This post is redistributed with permission from Tim Keller’s blog site.
Timothy Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan and is Chairman of Redeemer City to City, which starts new churches in New York and other global cities, and publishes books and resources for faith in an urban culture. Dr. Keller’s books, including Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work, The Reason for God and The Prodigal God, have sold over 1 million copies and been translated into 15 languages. His blog is: www.timothykeller.com/blog