Nov 142012

Few books adeptly addresses the conundrum of work from a Christian world view. Work is such a consuming part of our lives, often unsatisfying, yet there is something good about work that both the Biblical text and even Ayn Rand (a vocal critic of Christianity) acknowledges. And it’s a common quest for people to want to find meaning to work, and the meaning of life, though often without a metaphysical or religious framework.

But Christian answers have too often come up short, like these (excerpted from page 22 in the print edition) — the way to serve God at work is…:

  • to further social justice in the world
  • to be personally honest and evangelize your colleagues
  • to just do skillful, excellent work
  • to create beauty
  • to work from a Christian motivation to glorify God, seeking to engage and influence culture to that end
  • to work with a grateful, joyful, gospel-changed heart through all the ups and downs
  • to do whatever gives you the greatest joy and passion
  • to make as much money as you can, so that you can be as generous as you can

By contrast, this new book Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by Dr. Tim Keller with Katherine Leary Alsdorf released this week and ably presents a robust understanding of work– the desire, the difficulty, and the satisfaction of work. (ed.note: I substituted my own words here for the book’s 3 sections; and I do wonder why the book wasn’t named “The Meaning of Work”)

Read more about this book in this interview with Tim Keller and Listen to God’s Work and Ours – interview with Tim Keller

And courtesy of Dutton, Penguin Group (USA), I’m giving away a free hardcover copy of Every Good Endeavor here at (which is host to the first Tim Keller web page on the internet.) Win a copy of the book by doing at least 1 of these 4 tasks – add a comment, tweet this contest, like the page, and/or follow @DuttonBooks on twitter. 4 chances to win! Contest ends on 11/15 12:00am midnight Eastern Time.

Enter the contest and win Tim Keller’s new book on work – Every Good Endeavor

Up your odds by entering other contests at servantsofgrace and godhungry, or just buy the book now in hardcover or as a Kindle ebook.

[disclosure: I received a review copy of this book]

Feb 282011

There are a handful of preachers / pastors I personally know that stay off the grid. Whether by calling or by choice, or some combination of various factors, these are people who are ministering the Gospel under the radar and hold an inconspicuous posture that’s reluctant of being thrust into the spotlight of mainstream Christian media. While part of me wants to tell you who they are, I’m reluctant to because I do want to honor their desire of keeping a low profile.

Having heard each of these pastors speak and teach in public settings, in crowds of 100s and even 1000s, they are top communicators that could very well become a popular author and conference speaker. This is quite the contrast to the cadre of influential leaders who do use every media possible to spread their message far and wide, to use their gifts to their full potential. And some do it with good motives, and some, maybe not so much). Not for me or you to judge; God will use them anyways.

One nugget of wisdom I’ve heard from Larry Osborne is: “Your potential is not your calling.” This suggests that even though someone has a gift (in this case) as a great communicator, that doesn’t mean s/he has to step into the role of leading a megachurch and speak to 1000s as their career / work / ministry. There are other ways to be a good steward of the gifts God has given. And their countercultural (counter-Christian-culture) approach perhaps hints at a dark side to the machinery of American business of Christian church & products industry.

I’ll close with an oblique reference to several of these pastors. One is former megachurch pastor, and now teaching at a weekly gathering that meets at a house with about 70 in attendance. One had experienced exponential growth at a college ministry that became a church over 1000, done the book-writing & conference-speaking thing; and now leads a smaller church community of about 400 in the inner city; meeting in a former church building that’s become a place where the community gathers for art, music, and coffee. One led a popular college ministry that met at the center of a large university, and transitioned to do ministry on “the other side of the tracks” and now leads a church community of about 110; meeting in a former nightclub turned into a community center for tutoring, music, and community activities. One had led a thriving youth ministry in the 100s for 11 years, now pastoring a “slow church” of about 75 akin to the “slow food” movement.

You can call it missional, creative, subversive, or even strangely peculiar. Definitely counter-cultural.

[photo credit: Dennis Oppenheim via dwightfriesen]

Apr 242009

This week has been an extremely full week of Christian/ church leadership conferences: Exponential Conference in Orlando, Gospel Coalition in Chicago, and Catalyst West Coast in Irvine, California. All of that adds up to many hours of inspirational and motivational speeches.

I attended my first Catalyst conference, which ended a few hours earlier, and undoubtedly the most highly-charged energetic kind of Christian leadership event I’ve ever attended. I do love going to these events to meetup with people in person and not so much to attend the sessions — I buy the recordings for the content. I can always get the content plus have the ability to rewind and review, whereas being able to talk with people face-to-face is irreplaceable.

I did hear several of the messages, and sure it moves me to do something. Everything grabs my attention. Everything is urgent. Everything is so compelling. Everything is so good.

Kinda feels like being drawn and quartered. It’s a tough call to choose the one that God has for me, and that is not everything. I can’t do it all.

Plus, It’s less easy for me because I don’t think of myself as a natural born leader, or an organizational leader type. It seems to me that most, if not all, of these platformed Christian leaders are driven Type-A goal-oriented entrepreneurs who have launched their own organizations. So when I hear them, it takes an enormous effort for me to translate all of that into something that could work for me.

Sure, God can do it all. And I could take a flying leap of faith and “trust God” blindly. The impulsive and spontaneous me would love to sell all and follow Jesus, to jump into a new endeavor with full abandon and see the hand of God move. But, that naive leap would hurt me badly. Been there. Done that.

I confess I haven’t figured it out. And I have to keep leaning into God to walk by faith and not by sight. No leaping. Just walking.

Aside: the audios and videos from The Gospel Coalition 2009 are online already and free to listen and watch! One of my favorites is Tim Keller’s The Grand Demythologizer: The Gospel and Idolatry.