Every Good Endeavour - Timothy Keller (with Katherine Leary Alsdorf)
Hodder 287 pages £9.99 (Paperback edition 2014 ISBN 978 1 444720260 6)
Christian books on work come in two broad categories. There are those that are long on biblical principle but short on practical direction or motivation. Then there are those that are brilliant at looking at the coalface of our workaday world, but have little or no biblical foundations. Keller and his co-author manage to avoid these two polar opposites with a careful exploration of what the whole Bible says about work which is rooted in everyday life.
Here we see the theological being eminently practical, and the practical always being theologically rooted.
The title for the book comes from the liner notes of John Coltrane’s album A Love Supreme. This album was composed to express his gratitude for a deep spiritual experience that made him see his life, including his creative work in a completely fresh way.
Keller’s book is written in three sections:
1 God’s plan for work in which Keller sketches the biblical blueprint for work as dignified cultivation and service.
2 Problems with work when we ignore God’s blueprint. Work becomes pointless, fruitless, governed by selfishness and idolatry. The last item: idolatry is helpfully explored as any centre around which we build our lives other than God. Keller explains how we can see and challenge the idols that are attached to our view and practice of work.
3 The Gospel and Work: Keller explores how the gospel gives us a new story by which we can re-imagine what we are doing in our working lives. The gospel becomes a new compass to direct our decisions about work, and provides a new power to work for the Lord and others, rather than primarily for ourselves.
Although written in New York, Keller is such an Anglophile that it travel well across the Atlantic.
John Woods - pastor of Lancing Tabernacle, West Sussex