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Why Tim Keller Wants You to Stay in That Job You Hate

Why Tim Keller Wants You to Stay in That Job You Hate

The Redeemer pastor explains how he ministers to laypeople facing career confusion.

There are few better places in the world where Tim Keller could write a book about career and calling. "New York City is a place where people live in order to work," says the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan and author most recently of Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Work (Dutton). "They basically live more in their work than in their neighborhoods. That . . . means that if you start talking about work, you get right at their hearts."

In a recent sit-down conversation with This Is Our City executive producer Andy Crouch, Keller explained why he wanted to write a more comprehensive book about faith and work, how he learned to answer congregants' questions about their work, and what Redeemer has done to equip laypeople to live into their vocations outside the church.

Andy: What's been missing from faith-and-work books that Every Good Endeavor was designed to address?

Tim: When I read faith-and-work books, they tended to pass by each other. I had the sense that they were drawing on different streams of thought, maybe different biblical or historical themes. I tend to be a complexifier. I like to hold the different biblical themes in tension. I got the sense that most books on faith and work tended to isolate a certain idea. This book is trying to bring the different streams together.

What streams of thoughts have been most missing when we talk about faith and work?

It depends on who you're talking about. It seems to me the evangelical tradition tends to talk a lot about how faith essentially spiritually helps you deal with the troubles and the stresses of work. You need help to face challenges.

Mainline churches tend to put more emphasis on social justice and basically did a critique of capitalism early on, so whenever the mainline churches or ecumenical movement did faith-and-work stuff, it was usually critiquing the market, not "how's your heart?"

The Lutheran stream emphasizes that all work is God's work. Worldview doesn't matter. You make a good pair of shoes, then you're doing God's work, because work is God's way of caring for creation.

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Displaying 1–4 of 4 comments

Mark Matthias

April 26, 2013  6:05pm

"When you put those four streams together, I think they're very comprehensive." This reality is due to the finite limitations of analytical minds. Pure exegesis from beginning to end is challenging. Nevertheless, Some of us strive to do just that. Without the Holy Spirit this endeavor is impossible.By the fact that churches are dropping like dominoes; and prophecy is being fulfilled to the letter, no one is going to fix this place. Jesus came not to make bad men good; but to make dead men alive. No one is good; but some are alive in the Spirit of Elohim. We are ever pressed to find solutions for the mess on this planet, which cannot improve by mankind conjures up. Neither does God have any intention to fix this world, He is simply giving safe passage to His children; and to free us from the current rulership of this planet.

Jack Ratekin

April 24, 2013  2:00pm

What is the Christian way to write a play? With a typewriter? A pen and paper? Is it OK to use a laptop? Do you have to be a touch typist or can you be a "hunt and pecker". Unless he meant that there is a uniquely Christian form, content and plot line which must be followed. If that's what he meant then he's full of hot air.

Doug Knox

April 24, 2013  9:04am

The comment, “Actually, I would go as far to say I don't know that there's a Christian way to land a plane but I do think there's probably a Christian way to write plays,” is worth examining. “Christian” plays--and fiction and art and other creative works--are easy to visualize. Christian ways to land a plane are there as well. Christian aircraft mechanics is a laudable endeavor. Air traffic control guided by a Christian regard for human dignity is equally desirable. Why not Christian piloting, flanked as it is by clear sentiment on either side? In an early lecture series on basic Reformed theology, R.C. Sproul noted the unusually high number of successful emergency landings among Western airline pilots as opposed to Middle Eastern pilots. The reason, he said, was because Western pilots live under the benefits of the Protestant Reformation and fight for their passengers’ lives. Middle Eastern pilots tended to consigning their problem to the will of Allah. (DouglasKnox.com)

Peter K. Johnson

April 23, 2013  4:38pm

Being a Christian in the marketplace and demonstrating real Christian values is challenging but wonderfully rewarding. I have shared the gospel message in business settings all over the world and have found people more open than in so-called religious environments. God opens amazing opportunities to show his love and good news.

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