In 1989, Katherine Leary Alsdorf was nothing short of successful. She was leading strong in the industry of technology that was quickly revolutionizing the world as we knew it. But her impressive resume and bright future still left her searching; there had to be greater significance to the life she had built and worked so hard for. She began to sense her achievements would never be enough and any compensation or benefits still wouldn’t satisfy. As she says, “I couldn’t handle the idea that it was all meaningless, so I just put my head down and worked harder.”
Eventually, at the encouragement of a friend she found herself sitting among the congregation of Redeemer Presbyterian Church with Pastor Tim Keller. A few years later, she committed her life to Christ, admittedly with some angst that God would ask her to lay down a blossoming career in technology for work that would make more of a “Christian” difference.
She knew God could call her anywhere, but instead of rural Africa, he called her to Silicon Valley to be the CEO of high-tech start up. Over the next ten years, every day of every job would cause her to wrestle and pray through what it meant to serve God in the business realm. Little did she know, the collapse of the internet boom and eventual collapse of her company would lead her to back to Redeemer for the start of a new chapter. She was hired to start the Center for Faith and Work and shortly after would coauthor the book Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work with Pastor Tim Keller.
This book explores how we think about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, who we are in light of the Trinity, and why our work really does matter…all of it. Last year I had the chance to sit down and talk with Katherine about the book and the concept of “faith and work.” As she talked, she recalled her initial impression of Redeemer and how, for the first time in church, she was given a redemptive perspective of her career. “[Tim Keller] basically undermined a lot of my idols, a lot of the things I had been clinging to for significance, so that further opened the door for God to come in,” she says. The way Keller presented the Gospel tore down the perceived categories of doing things for God and doing things for work. It could all be viewed as an act of worship. Under this umbrella she was able to apply her work in tech that was changing the world within the context of the Gospel that changes everything,
In Part 1 of 5, Katherine shares how faith shaped her leadership as a CEO in some of her company’s toughest times. You can check out parts 2-5 over at The Barnabas Group blog.