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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.

One thing emerging adults say sometimes is a further step from what we're talking about: "I hate my job. It's not just like I don't have a lot of power—I really can't stand what I have to do every day." How would you pastor someone in that situation?

I hear that a lot.

What I usually say is, you have to learn the ropes of your profession. I say, "Look, you need to spend some time earning your spurs, getting some street cred, getting to know the relationships. Otherwise you're not going to be able to function in this field in a way that you think is more values driven." You basically pay your dues as long as you're not being asked to violate your conscience. If you're doing a lot of stuff that's just useless, it's only useless in the short term because in the long term you might be getting skills with which you might help people. You can go to a better company or start your own, but for a period of time, if you get too squeamish about doing useless stuff, you may never get good in your field at all. You'll never be salt and light in it later.

How did you learn how to pastor people well in a city where conversation so often revolves around work?

Practice. One of my first epiphanies was when a soap-opera actor became a Christian here at Redeemer and came in to meet. He said, "Now that I'm a Christian, I have two questions. First, what roles should I take and shouldn't I take? . . . I'm assuming that stories don't have to be religious stories to be good for people, but what stories are good, and what stories are bad?"

"Okay," I said. "What was your second question?" (laughs)

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Displaying 3–4 of 4 comments

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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