Every Good Endeavor

Written by: Timothy Keller

Book Review by: Schalk Klopper

Timothy Keller’s Every Good Endeavor is a book for working Christians. We’ve given our entire substance over to Christ and His purposes.  We want everything we do to be done in accordance with His will and for His glory.  We live, move, and have our being in Him. Yet, for the great majority of us, on Monday morning we still have to drag ourselves out of bed, get cleaned up, get presentably clothed, force feed ourselves, sit in traffic, and then go help somebody (usually not ourselves) get rich.  Eventually, we start to wonder if this is what God had in mind for us.

This tension, faced by many modern working class Christians, is something that Timothy Keller understands deeply. He has counselled and taught on this tension for years as the head pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York.

Many Bible-sized books have been written on this tension and the integration of faith and work. But unlike most of these works, in Every Good Endeavor Keller does not merely once again conclude that faith and work are in fact integrated.  Rather, Keller provides a refreshing and much broader view of the topic. His wisdom on the topic is apparent as he doesn’t give answers on how to serve God at work via a single stream of thought; instead he integrates and explores the merits and downfalls of many streams and opinions that have developed through the ages.

Throughout the book, he provides comforting insights into many relevant concerns such as: why work can be fruitless even for Christians who work toward Godly aims, why work can become pointless even to Christians who view it as a service to God, and how to deal with the inherent selfishness in work. Keller also provides convicting advice on the dangers of false idols in our careers, but he does so in an encouraging manner, always leaving the reader with hope in a better way. He also touches on the confusing fact that non-Christians often significantly improve the lives of others through great work without any revelations of faith and work integration.

Keller is an academic and theologian at heart, and as such the book argues by using deep doctrinal matters such as: the doctrine of common grace, the doctrine of justification by faith, and the doctrine of sin. Luckily the help of the pragmatic Katherine Leary Alsdorf comes through in the overall practical and upbeat tone of the book. Thispartnership ensures that deep doctrine and theory can be easily understood by readers from all spheres of society. Further, Keller’s years of teaching and counselling provide him with a large collection of real stories from real people with real struggles that he uses throughout the book to set the stage and make his points. Many readers will be able to relate and find hope in these stories.

The only point of concern is that at times Every Good Endeavor can tackle the theory behind so many opposing streams of thought on the topic, that it leaves the reader searching for actionable steps, which it, unfortunately, does not provide.

Nevertheless, I was especially fond of the simplistic yet philosophical and worldview-based approach that Keller takes on the topic. Similar to most works on the integration of faith and work, Every Good Endeavor provides life-giving insights into the purpose and power of work from a Christ-centered perspective.  It also inspires and energizes readers to take up their jobs as a divine calling, but Keller’s work does even more than this. He takes you deep into a three-part Christ-centered view of the working world that will answer tough questions, give understanding, encourage acceptance, and give hope to Christians who want to live out their work life as a holy calling. Keller’s three-part lens of the world provides a broad and very practical perspective on the working world that can give meaning and understanding to many faith and work related conundrums.

Every Good Endeavor finally draws a conclusion that inspires regardless of the difficult and realistic nature of the working world. As such, I would recommend this book to any reader seeking deep understanding and wisdom on the integration of faith and work, as opposed to a reader seeking a light and easily digested perspective. – Schalk Klopper