Why Tim Keller Wants You to Stay in That Job You Hate

Why Tim Keller Wants You to Stay in That Job You Hate

The Redeemer pastor explains how he ministers to laypeople facing career confusion.

There are few better places in the world where Tim Keller could write a book about career and calling. “New York City is a place where people live in order to work,” says the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan and author most recently of Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work (Dutton). “They basically live more in their work than in their neighborhoods. That . . . means that if you start talking about work, you get right at their hearts.”

In a recent sit-down conversation with This Is Our City executive producer Andy Crouch, Keller explained why he wanted to write a more comprehensive book about faith and work, how he learned to answer congregants’ questions about their work, and what Redeemer has done to equip laypeople to live into their vocations outside the church.

Andy: What’s been missing from faith-and-work books that Every Good Endeavor was designed to address?

Tim: When I read faith-and-work books, they tended to pass by each other. I had the sense that they were drawing on different streams of thought, maybe different biblical or historical themes. I tend to be a complexifier. I like to hold the different biblical themes in tension. I got the sense that most books on faith and work tended to isolate a certain idea. This book is trying to bring the different streams together.

What streams of thoughts have been most missing when we talk about faith and work?

It depends on who you’re talking about. It seems to me the evangelical tradition tends to talk a lot about how faith essentially spiritually helps you deal with the troubles and the stresses of work. You need help to face challenges.

Mainline churches tend to put more emphasis on social justice and basically did a critique of capitalism early on, so whenever the mainline churches or ecumenical movement did faith-and-work stuff, it was usually critiquing the market, not “how’s your heart?”

The Lutheran stream emphasizes that all work is God’s work. Worldview doesn’t matter. You make a good pair of shoes, then you’re doing God’s work, because work is God’s way of caring for creation.

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