Book Review: “Every Good Endeavour: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work” by Timothy Keller with Katherine Leary Alsdorf
How did I get this book?
My friend Timothy Ehmann not only suggested that I read it, but sent me a copy in the mail through christianbook.com. He had read it recently and thoroughly enjoyed it as it helped him to think about his work in the medical field through a different and better lens.
Generally, I’ve benefitted from Timothy Keller’s ministry over the years. I find him deep and thought provoking and well researched. This is one area of ministry that I wanted to learn more about and so I was happy to receive the gift and read the book.
What’s it about?
This book opens up with a forward by Katherine of her story. It’s helpful in showing the dilemma of integrating faith and work. Tim’s voice picks it up from there describing the various approaches that have been taken within the last few decades by evangelicals to live out their faith at work. It’s a bit of scatter shot, there hasn’t been anything at the popular level to help Christians navigate the decisions and posture to take in what constitutes a major portion of life.
The book is organized into three parts. First, it’s “God’s Plan for Work” and we go back to the garden of Eden, before the fall and look at the role of work that was present there. There’s design, dignity, the activity of cultivating, and the reality of serving that are all part of work.
Second, he shows “Our Problems with Work.” Starting with how work is often fruitless, then pointless, selfish and ultimately exposes all of our idols. It’s a difficult thing to realize how true this all is. It’s necessary though, in order to see the beauty of the gospel in the work setting.
This is the theme of the final part of the book. “The Gospel and Work.” Here we read about a new story for work, a new conception of work, a new compass for work and a new power for work.
Throughout all of these parts and chapters, he does a masterful job of piquing his reader’s interest in the opening paragraphs. He includes thoughtful quotes and insights from great thinkers, people that generally our culture respects. He also tells several stories of real people that he knows in interesting and difficult work situations and how they navigated it with whatever principle is being discussed.
He closes the book with an epilogue describing how their church, Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan has been seeking to equip believers by connecting them to each other and to great content so they are better able to integrate their faith and their work no matter their field.
What did I think?
Well, truthfully, as of writing this, I’m an unemployed pastor. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the “workforce.” The benefit for me in reading this was thinking through how it impacted my friend Timothy, and also thinking about all the people that I’ve met over the years in the different vocations and careers they have had. This would have been a great resource.
I think every church library should have it. I think every pastor should read it. I think every Men’s Ministry leader should carefully consider it’s content. This is for both professionals and blue collar employees. It’s for entrepreneurs as well.
Just the one passage alone in Chapter 9: “A New Story for Work” (pages 164-184) should be contemplated. It’s a sketch of what the gospel could look like in the various fields of: business, journalism, higher education, the Arts, Medicine, and then “All Work.” It is both encouraging and challenging.
Timothy Keller isn’t Jesus. But, boy has he demonstrated Christ through his ministry, his writing, his demeanour, and his life. I’m personally grateful for him. This is a very helpful book in my opinion.
I’m always interested to hear your thoughts. Have you read this? What did you think? Would you like me to send you this copy?
Wait… I have a friend that I want to offer it to first…