“How does the gospel transform your daily work?” Tim Keller, New York Times best-selling author asked a crowd of almost 1,750 at Samford University Nov. 8. Keller also is pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.
Keller, who was the featured speaker for Beeson Divinity School’s Faith and Work Lecture, explained that early on in his ministry in New York City, a new convert in his church approached him about how to be a Christian in his line of work of acting.
“Somewhere in the midst of this discussion, I suddenly realized I had been trained to disciple people by getting them out of the world into my church,” Keller said. “I realized I didn’t know how to disciple people for their whole life, not just their private life, for every part of their life.”
Keller had five principles for how the gospel transforms work. First, Christian faith gives you a new identity without which work can sink you. Second, faith gives you a new concept of dignity of all work without which work can bore you. Third, faith gives you a moral compass without which work could corrupt you. Fourth, the Christian faith gives you a new worldview without which work will be your master not your servant. Fifth, Christianity gives you a sophisticated hope without which work will frustrate you.
“When you make your work your identity, if you're successful, it goes to your head, and if you are unsuccessful, it destroys your heart,” Keller said in discussing his first principle.
If you do not want work to sink you, then your identity must rest in the person and work of Jesus Christ, not your work, Keller explained.
“We live in a culture right now in which everyone wants to change the world and make lots of money while they are doing it,” he said about his second principle. But “all work that helps people is God's work.”
“What is the Christian way to fly a plane? I’ll tell you what the Christian way is to fly that plane — land,” Keller said amid laughter. “If you are really good, land the plane so it can take off again.”
Do your work as “unto the Lord,” Keller urged the crowd, and be encouraged that “the vision God has given you he will one day bring to pass.”
The Faith and Work Lecture is made possible by a grant from the Kern Family Foundation, directed by D. Mark DeVine, associate professor of divinity at Beeson Divinity School.
Keller also spoke earlier in the day at a private chapel service for Beeson Divinity School employees and students on “The Temptation of Ministry.” Following the lecture, he was interviewed by Timothy George, founding dean of Beeson Divinity School, during a private luncheon. The interview will air Tuesday, Nov. 22, on the Beeson podcast.
Kristen Padilla is marketing and communication coordinator for Beeson Divinity School.