every good endeavour

every-good-endeavour

I love these wise insights from Dr Tim Keller in his book Every Good Endeavor. If you have a career of any kind and a faith in God, you may find both perspective and comfort in his words:

Work is so foundational to our makeup that it is one of the few things we can take in significant doses without harm. Indeed, the Bible does not say we should work one day and rest six or that work and rest should be balanced evenly but directs us to the opposite ratio. Leisure and pleasure are great goods, but we can take only so much of them.

According to the Bible, we don’t merely need the money from work to survive; we need the work itself to survive and to live fully human lives.

Because of the nature of God’s creation, we need work for our happiness. And because of God’s intentions for our work – to contribute to the flourishing of the world – we have glimpses of what we could accomplish. But because of the fall of the human race, our work is also profoundly frustrating, never as fruitful as we want, and often a complete failure.

Everyone will be forgotten, nothing we do will make any difference, and all good endeavors, even the best, will come to naught.

Unless there is God. If the God of the Bible exists, and there is a True Reality beneath and behind this one, and this life is not the only life, then every good endeavor, even the simplest ones, pursued in response to God’s calling, can matter forever.

God can, and often does, change what he calls us to do.

We are continuing God’s work of forming, filling, and subduing. Whenever we bring order out of chaos, whenever we draw out creative potential, whenever we elaborate and “unfold” creation beyond where it was when we found it, we are following God’s pattern of creative cultural development.

Just because you cannot realize your highest aspirations in work does not mean that you have chosen wrongly, or are not called to your profession, or that you should spend your life looking for the perfect career that is devoid of frustration. You should expect to be regularly frustrated in your work even though you may be in exactly the right vocation.

God’s loving care comes to us largely through the labor of others. Work is a major instrument of God’s providence; it is how he sustains the human world.

It’s definitely a book worth reading. I’ve read very little about the intersection between faith and career, which is kind of funny given how important both areas are in our lives and how much time we all spend working.

I’ve not been working full time since last year, and between bits and pieces of work (three weeks here, a month there), I’ve realised how necessary it is to ‘create’ work for myself. It’s part of the reason I’ve been trying to blog each day – not for the sake of blogging itself, but to have something little to work on.

And I love the second last quote, about expecting frustration. There’s so much talk about finding your dream job, or a job that doesn’t feel like work, but I think that’s a bit of a skewed perspective, like trying to find your dream spouse, ‘the one’. To be anticipating and expecting frustration in our careers, and know that that’s okay – it takes the pressure off a little bit hey.

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One thought on “every good endeavour

  1. Pingback: career advice | laura swanson

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