Thursday, December 1, 2016

Every Good Endeavor - A Book for Writers (and Anyone Who Works)

by Lynn H Blackburn @LynnHBlackburn

I have a handful of friends whose book recommendations I take very seriously. And by very seriously I mean that if they say I should read a book, that book will appear on my doorstep within 48 hours. (Thank you, Amazon Prime!)

That’s what happened with Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller and Katherine Leary Alsdorf. I’m a fan of Tim Keller, but I don’t think I would have chosen this book if my friend (thank you, Tina Parker!!) hadn’t told me how amazing it was. This writing thing was a hobby for so long, the fact that I actually get paid to do it, that I have an agent and an editor and contracts and readers . . . Somehow I just kind of forget that IS work (until I sit down to write and then it all comes crashing back down on me).

So maybe that’s why a book with the subtitle “Connecting Your Work to God’s Work” isn’t something that I would have thought applies to me.

But I would have been so wrong.

This book applies to everyone. Because we all work. Whether our work is in a factory or a high-rise. Whether we get paid for what we do or whether every minute is a labor of love. Whether our work is acknowledged by our peers or whether it remains hidden to all but the eyes of the Almighty, we all work. And our work matters.

And while I would say the intended audience for Every Good Endeavor is the “business person” I would argue that the applications to creatives are endless. I could also make this argument for stay-at-home moms and volunteers.

In case you can’t tell, I think everyone should read this book.

And believe it or not, you absolutely must NOT skip the introduction because if you aren’t familiar with J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Leaf by Niggle” then the introduction alone will have been worth the cost of this book. And it is there that foundation for the book is laid.
Because it’s so easy to believe that none of our effort really matters and none of it really makes a difference, “unless there is God. If the God of the Bible exists, and there is a True Reality beneath and behind this one, and this life is not the only life, then every good endeavor, even the simplest ones, pursued in response to God’s calling, can matter forever.”

The book is divided into three parts.

In Part 1 - God’s Plan for Work - there’s some really awesome theology about work and some beautiful imagery of the Creator and of how the “creation of culture” is part of the way we serve God through our creativity. (I have about half of this section underlined). There’s a strong emphasis in doing quality work and the reminder that our work is “ultimately an act of worship to the God who called and equipped you to do it…”

In Part 2 - Our Problems with Work - there’s a deep dive into the ways work has become twisted into something sinful. How our selfishness and idols can be revealed by our attitudes to work. This section isn’t as much fun to read, only because it’s so convicting. Don’t skip it, just be prepared to say “ouch” early and often.

In Part 3 - The Gospel and Work - we get a new story for work, a new conception of work, a new compass for work, and a new power for work. It’s all so good - again, I think I underlined most of the chapter on a new conception of work. There’s a lot in there for creatives to absorb and then put into practice. In the chapter on a new compass for work, we see yet another reminder of why our work—done well—matters and there are some intense questions that may leave you squirming as you seriously consider who your audience is and who you are really working for. It is impossible for a writer to read this section and not come away reminded that our value and worth is not found in our reviews or the number of awards we’ve received or our spot on a particular list.

The book concludes with a powerful chapter on a “new power for work” and explores not only the “work under the work” but also the “rest under the rest.”

There’s no way you can hang out with writers for long before you meet one, two, or twenty who are headed straight for burn out. But a healthy, gospel-centered view of work not only encourages us to work skillfully and passionately, but to rest intentionally and without worry of falling behind or losing ground or missing out.

Every Good Endeavor isn’t going to help you craft wittier dialogue. It isn’t going to teach you how to make your setting a character or ramp up the tension and conflict in every scene.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t help you become a better writer, a more confident writer, a more compassionate writer, a more faithful writer, and a much happier writer.

So what about you? Do you tend to ignore “business” books because you don’t think they apply? Do you forget (until you sit down to write) that writing is, in fact, hard work? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

Lynn Huggins Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. She’s passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don’t make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. She lives in South Carolina with her true love, Brian, and their three children. Her first book, Covert Justice, won the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery and Suspense and the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel. You can follow her real life happily ever after on FacebookTwitterPinterest, Instagram, and at


  1. So glad I came across your Tweet about this book today! I'm also a fan of Tim Keller. Our book discussion group just finished Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, and next week we begin Hidden Christmas. Now I'm adding this title to my Kindle!

  2. I'm ordering this book now! Thanks for the recommendation.

  3. This is the second time in one day I have opened an email and found a recommendation for this book. I am already a fan of Tim Keller, so not a hard sell, but I will be putting this on Christmas list. Thanks!

  4. Have a meeting at Barns & Noble Monday morning. I'm picking up the book while there or having them order it.

    Your recommendations go to the top of my "want" list.

    Share on!

  5. Sounds purposeful for writers, thanks!

  6. Thank you for the reminder. I read this book two years ago, but life put it back on the shelf. It's past time I read it again.

  7. I'm a little behind with my blog reading but so glad I didn't overlook this post. You've sold me! As soon as I hit publish on this comment my next stop will be Amazon. I have a Christmas party Saturday with a bunch of writers, guess what my gift for the exchange will be? Thanks Lynn!