We were back in the supply room, gathering trays and sterile equipment for our cases. She was griping about something. I don’t remember what. But as we hurried down the hall with arms full, she shook her head and sighed. “Why are you always so happy?”
I just shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s Jesus.”
Then we separated to our respective rooms.
But the work had become pretty much just a job, just a paycheck.
I felt enslaved to it. I’d lost the love.
Besides, I’d gotten busy with church work. You know, important work. Eternal work.
And rather than be separated between church and work, I quit.
I lost sight of eternity’s stamp–if I’d ever really seen it. I’d separated my work and my faith.
I didn’t fully grasp the concept that the work of the gospel could flow through my work. Through any work.
It can, anyway, if it’s motivated by love. Our work–whatever it is–is only a vehicle to give a glimpse of God and the “future healed world that he will bring about.”
Eventually, I burned out of church work for a season. I’d enslaved myself to simply doing, and my doing undid me. Because even in that, I think I was addicted to my own significance and didn’t fully surrender as a servant.
When we work, we are . . . the “fingers of God,” the agents of his providential love for others. This understanding elevates the purpose of work from making a living to loving our neighbor and at the same time releases us from the crushing burden of working primarily to prove ourselves. ~p. 21
This is one response, Timothy Keller tells us in Every Good Endeavor, to the question of how to think about the integration of work and faith.
I wish I’d had a handle on the truth that no matter what we do, it needs to flow from who we are and whose we are. Our doing should come from our being. Everything, whether net-mending or lawn-mowing or deal-making–or passing instruments–has eternal significance whether we see it or not.
I wish I’d been able to grasp in the season the significance of wiping noses and refereeing fights and serving after-school homemade chocolate chip cookies and pizza bagels.
So now I make a little money writing. And when I wonder if my measly words make a difference at all… when I fret that I’ve wasted so much time and accomplished so little, I’ll remember Tolkien’s story of “Leaf by Niggle” that Keller shares in the Introduction.
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. ~p. 29
This book’s goal is to answer three questions:
1. Why do you want to work? (That is, why do we need to work in order to lead a fulfilled life?)
2. Why is it so hard to work? (That is, why is it so often fruitless, pointless, and difficult?”
3. How can we overcome the difficulties and find satisfaction in our work through the gospel?
Maybe it all needs to start by becoming enslaved to Love.
The High Calling Book Club is studying Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by Timothy Keller with Katherine Leary Alsdorf this month–about connecting your work to God’s work. I’m excited about this one. Join today’s discussion here.