In Every Good Endeavor, Tim Keller helpfully points out the shortcomings of viewing our work in terms of any single verse or principle. Our understanding of how our work fits into biblical categories and emphases must be multifaceted. In the passage quoted below, Keller highlights some sound principles for thinking about our work form a Christian point of view, and then discusses how to make use of them wisely:
So if you are a Christian who is trying to be faithful in your work, you might find yourself trying to weigh sentiments as varied as these: • The way to serve God at work is to further social justice in the world. • The way to serve God at work is to be personally honest and evangelize your colleagues. • The way to serve God at work is just to do skilful, excellent work. • The way to serve God at work is to create beauty. • The way to serve God at work is to work from a Christian motivation to glorify God, seeking to engage and influence culture to that end. • The way to serve God at work is to work with a grateful, joyful, gospel- changed heart through all the ups and downs. • The way to serve God at work is to do whatever gives you the greatest joy and passion. • The way to serve God at work is to make as much money as you can, so that you can be as generous as you can.
To what extent are these sentiments complementary or actually opposed to one another? That is a difficult question, for there is at least a measure of biblical warrant for every one of them. And the difficulty lies not merely in the plethora of theological commitments and cultural factors involved, but also in how they operate in different ways depending on the field or type of work. Christian ethics, motives, identity, witness, and worldview shape our work in very different ways depending on the form of the work. […] if you keep the propositions the way they are, claiming that each is a way to serve God through work, then the different statements are ultimately complementary .
In other words, no single verse or principle offers a mirror that can reflect a global and well-rounded biblical understanding of work, but together they provide a map of different locations and coordinates, and the map as a whole allows us to navigate our way wisely through the world of work.