Our career values help to determine the types of careers that we choose. Author Timothy Keller’s 2012 book, “Every Good Endeavor,” urges the pursuit of careers that we can do well and that will contribute, in a positive way, to benefit our fellow man and our society. He sees workers, no matter how humble their occupations, as partners with God in caring for the world.
Not all authors share these career values. Robert Ringer’s 1977 book, “Looking Out for Number One,” stresses that the purpose of life is to get what one wants from life. Ringer sees self-preservation as the first law of nature. Thus, those who agree with Ringer’s career values will be more likely to pursue careers mainly because of the money or power they can acquire as individuals. Such individuals are less likely to associate their behavior on Sunday with their behavior during the rest of their week.
Aside from ethical considerations, such a mindset is out of step with the needs of the modern workforce. This workforce requires employees to have the willingness, through synergistic teamwork, to accomplish group tasks. Unfortunately, such teamwork today is too often lacking.
Pastor Keller describes work as an indispensable part of human life because it gives meaning to us as we worship God by using our God given talents to cultivate God’s creation. He describes this work as dignified, whether it is blue or white collar, physical or mental, menial or high profile.
Pastor Keller also cautions that such work that is a “calling” does not have to be a career such as that of a Pastor, missionary or any other type of professional Christian worker. Pastor Keller gives specific examples when he explains how the gospel relates to business, journalism, higher education, the arts, and medicine. The ranks of our political leaders for example, certainly could benefit from individuals who believe in and practice the career values described by Pastor Keller.
Pastor Keller was well qualified to write this book. In 1989, he founded the Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC. Today it has more than 5,000 regular Sunday attendees. He also has helped to start nearly 200 new churches around the world. In his book, he cites references from literary classics, philosophy, anthropology, and many other disciplines to make his case for the higher meaning of work.
He wrote “Every Good Endeavor” with Katherine Leary Alsdorf, who has held CEO roles in the high-tech industry.