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By John Pierce

Thanks to satellite radio Morning Joe travels with me. Recently, the Baptist-raised, Catholic-educated and often irreverent Joe Scarborough was gushing over the Rev. Tim Keller and his new book, Every Good Endeavor.

Usually it’s unwise to reference a book one has not read, but I got enough from Keller’s appearance to do so. Keller, pastor of the popular Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, where Scarborough said he attends when in the city, addresses the important topic of integrating faith and work.

From his comments, at least, the message that he gently and repeatedly hammers home in both print and pulpit is about priorities — especially related to careers that can be consuming.

Others address the topic of integrating faith and work as well, including my friend Howard E. Butt Jr. down in the Texas Hill Country, whose audio clips and other resources are posted at thehighcalling.org. And we need plenty of reminders.

In the recent TV interview, Keller said: “Work is a good thing when it is a servant and not lord.”

When one’s identity is too tied to a career position, success can bring a harmful sense of superiority rather than needed humility, he noted. And the loss of a job or position of status can devastate one’s self esteem — as if the whole person is tied to a particular job title and responsibility.

Keller said he took the book’s title, Every Good Endeavor, from a liner note by the late jazz musician John Coltrane. Attitude, he said, determines how one sees and approaches work and other priorities.

“Two people can do the same work at the same level and have different attitudes,” he said.

Keller’s conversation with Scarborough offered some needed reminders: Primarily, that each and every day we decide how to invest our time and how to interpret meaning from our daily experiences.  We make choices among many things that can be deemed good.  

But as Keller explained: “An idol is turning a good thing into an ultimate thing.”

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