Timothy Keller on the difference between ministry and marketplace work and what the gospel does to both

First, if religious works were crucial to achieving a good standing with God, then there would always be a fundamental difference between those in church ministry and everyone else. But if religious work did absolutely nothing to earn favor with God, it could no longer be seen as superior to other forms of labor.

The gospel of salvation through sheer grace holds a second implication for work. While ancient monks may have sought salvation through religious works, many modern people seek a kind of salvation—self-esteem and self-worth—from career success. This leads us to seek only high-paying, high-status jobs, and to ‘worship’ them in perverse ways. But the gospel frees us from the relentless pressure of having to prove ourselves and secure our identity through work, for we are already proven and secure. It also frees us from a condescending attitude towards less sophisticated labor and from envy over more exalted work. All work now becomes a way to love the God who saved us freely; and by extension, a way to love our neighbor.

– Timothy Keller, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work To God’s Work

On defined desires versus goals

I have found that with most people, and this includes myself, that when we say “goals” what we really mean is “desires”.

When we say something to the effect of, “Yea it’s a goal of ours this year to [fill in the blank]…” but we have no measurable outcome that I know of which we’ve decided upon so that we’d know this thing were fully achieved, then it’s actually a desire.

I am trying to correct this misspeaking in myself.

I’m not trying to correct this because goals are necessarily better than desires in any way. Many desires have accomplished far more than goals. In fact, I’m not even, yet, trying to turn these desires into goals.

Nope; I’m trying to correct this because meaning what I say and saying what I mean is important.

I think it’s a great start to even clearly just state and define one’s desires. This is farther than most people get.

This is especially true if you have a spouse (or most any partnership). Many unions have struggled because of poorly conceived or poorly communicated desires.

There is much power in a defined desire which becomes capable of being communicated well. If this is accomplished, goals will typically take care of themselves if they’re even needed.

Fit for noble purposes

When you’re actually fit for noble purposes, you care less that you’re seen as such.

Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. – 2 Timothy 2:20-21

If someone tells you you’re capable of, or even are, being an instrument used for noble purposes, it has to flatter you some. Yet, if it flatters you, then there’s still work to do.

The reality is that the more noble one becomes the less it matters to them that they are viewed as worthy. That’s how God’s kingdom works.

Those closest to the king are the most humble about being there. Knowing they do not deserve it. Knowing that the king they serve is so beyond them it’s incomparable, incomprehensible, and inexplicable.

And, this king, is the type of person that lays down his rights and royalties to be with his people. He even laid down his life to redeem his people who wronged Him. This is the stuff of true nobility.

So am I saying this all just because I know to say it to sound more noble, or because it’s just true and real in me? Well… yes.

On the concept of “team debt”

The concepts of “technical debt” and “team debt” are terms that the church and para-church need to borrow and learn from – asap.

I recently saw tweet with a link to this blog post: Onboarding And The Cost Of Team Debt

I don’t know who Kate is other than what she says in the article – she does software engineering – but I’ve been saying for years now that the church has a lot to learn from the tech world. So much!

This is a prime example…

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“They didn’t pick me” – Not getting the job and moving on in contentment

God is good and we don’t get to understand much more than that…

“Today, I didn’t get picked…”

I wrote that line, on this blog, January 24th, at 8:48 a.m. That was the last I updated it because I was also, already, busy working on not getting picked by another organization that I was super excited about.

I have affectionately labeled the months that followed my “season of rejection”…

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The only hero anyone ever needs

Our culture loves to champion it’s heroes and heroic stories.

Yet, what defines a hero?

Is a hero the man who dies while saving people from a burning building? Or the person who dies while blowing up a building filled with ordinary people?

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) explained,

‘Whoe’er excels in what we prize, appears a hero in our eyes.’

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On connecting meaning in our stories for our community

We are part of the best story there is. So how do we cast a compelling vision for our community and connect with the people – even those who don’t believe as we do – in a way that excites them, assures them we care, and connects our story to theirs in a way that shows them the depth of meaning THE story can bring to their lives!?

We are all storytellers, and we are all part of one grand story.

Within this grand story are nearly infinite other stories we could tell at any time.

Jesus was a master storyteller.

My father is an expert storyteller.

I tend to be a bit of a storyteller, myself, but I wouldn’t say I’m “expert” material yet. However, that’s pretty much what the existence of this blog is about. One long and wandering story. One I’m writing down as I go. One I’m hoping to gain clarity on as I write.

Our communities we are a part of are a story. Hundreds of thousands of stories, making up one collective story – much like the gospel and the church.

However, our communities depend on us. You and me.

We have to help shape the story and make it meaningful.

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On associating with the anxiety too many feel

Sometimes my least favorite part about the process I feel I’m going through is learning to associate with the anxiety that small all business owners go through.

It’s ridiculous. It sucks. It’s stupid! Yet it’s too often normal

Plus, it affects everything… if we let it…

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Does this make me look like I’m trying too hard?

If you’re not careful, exactly what you’re trying your hardest to gain is what you’ll lost the most of.

I tend to run from anything that makes me look like I’m trying too hard.

Yet in reality, you can know that I’m trying extremely hard at nearly everything and anything I do.

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