Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Work by Timothy Keller with Katherine Leary Alsdorf, New York: Riverhead Books, 2012. 288 pp.
Every Good Endeavor is an excellent presentation on what the Bible says about work and how to apply its teaching to our job. Keller is the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian church in New York City. He has written many books on the Christian faith including Reason for God. Alsdorf worked for twenty-five years in the high-tech industry before being hired by Redeemer Presbyterian church to lead its Center for Faith & Work. She writes about her experience in the foreword of the book. She notes, After struggling with her own "call to serve God in business," she was give the opportunity to help others to live out their vocational calling.
In the introduction, Keller quotes from Robert Bellah's Habits of the Heart: "To make a real difference . . . [there would have to be] a reappropriation of the idea of vocation or calling, a return in a new way to the idea of work as a contribution to the good of all and not merely as a means to one's own advancement" (1-2). Keller in this book seeks to recover the idea of work as a calling or vocation. Keller illustrates his point by commenting on J.R.R. Tolkien's short story "leaf by Niggle." He suggests this story shows how we can connect our work to God's work. Every Good Endeavor seeks to answer three questions: What is your motivation for working? Why is work so difficult? "How can we overcome the difficulties and find satisfaction in our work through the gospel?"
The book is divided into three parts. In the first part, Keller presents "God's Plan for Work." The topics covered are work's design, work's dignity, work as cultivation and service. The second part discusses the problems of work. Two of these problems of work can be selfishness and making work an idol. The third part applies the Gospel to our work. One of the ways he accomplishes this is by connecting work to a Christian world-view. He makes three points: The whole world is good. The whole world is fallen. The whole world is going to be redeemed. One can see several conclusions from these points. God created the world. He meant for us to cultivate and develop it. Though it is fallen, we are called to work with God in redeeming it.
Every Good Endeavor is a good presentation of a Christian view of work. It shows how work can be calling and through our work we can serve others. It helps to restore the reformation view of work as a calling. It also helps us to see that there is no divide between sacred and secular. What we do in the world is God's calling as much as what ministers do in the church.