As we close this segment of the summer book selection Every Good Endeavor by Timothy Keller, I can’t help but do it with a sigh of relief. I tend to err on the side of optimism and all these discussions on the challenges and issues with work caused me to feel bad for two reasons: 1. I love working and my career; 2. I can see my own challenges with work and how I sometimes fail in my own “Good Endeavors.”
In the final chapter of this section, Keller talks about how we often, without realizing it, worship the “idol” of work. I call it “workship,” and I’m just as guilty (if not more so) as the next guy when it comes to this common idolization of work.
During the Greek times, work was considered a lowly position only reserved for slaves and servants. Later it became a family tradition passed down from one generation to the next. If your father was a tailor or carpenter, you were a tailor and carpenter. Jesus originally worked in carpentry because Joseph did. But today, work has taken on an entirely new tenor. It has become the center of our universes. An at once defining and deciding factor in our ego and self-worth, work supersedes everything else and it’s easy to become a workaholic. I see this in myself. My career is a defining part of me and my life and has been for a long time.
We put a lot of stock in our careers and they become our saviors. We work to be noticed, loved, paid, admired, cared for, and provided for. The problem with this is when work IS the only defining characteristic and the ONLY thing that can save us, God is no longer in the picture. He is no longer the motivator or end goal and our performance is not based on the gospel, but on a paycheck or even a compliment. We are no longer in a state of worship, but a state of workship.
When I first got into real estate, I was all about workship, but over the years I learned that my work meant very little if God was not involved. It’s only by partnering with Him in prayer and gospel-based practices that workship turns to worship and doing my job is, in itself, a benediction.
That’s what the rest of this book will be about–How to partner with and devote our work to God, regardless of our careers.