This week I'm giving away THREE copies of Michael Kelley's book, Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life.
I recently had the chance to ask Michael a few questions about his book:
Margaret: For readers who aren’t familiar with the book, what is the main idea?
Michael: The main idea of Boring is simple, but elusive I think: There is no such thing as ordinary when we follow an extraordinary God.
We live in a culture that is constantly looking toward the bigger, the better, and the more exciting. Because we are, any time we bump up an area of life that’s common—the stuff of everyday life, we treat it as something to either grit our teeth and just get through, or to escape from. Whether that means changing diapers, paying taxes, or going to the same job day after day, we think equate significance with excitement and can’t imagine that these seemingly mundane parts of life might actually be an essential part of God’s design.
I hope the book will help us see that meaning is found not outside of these ordinary areas of life but right in the middle of what we think of as boring.
What were the biggest challenges or struggles during the writing process?
The writing process is always difficult, but with this book, I found it particularly difficult to bear the weight of the message in my own life. Just like everyone else, there are parts of my life that are arduous. I drive the same route everyday. I have the same parenting struggles as any parent. My marriage has the same tendency to drop into routine as everyone else’s.
In writing about the true meaning found inside these mundane parts of life, I had to confront just how often I find myself bowing at the altar of the big and exciting. In writing, my view of everyday things like driving to work, being a dad, and going to church every Sunday needed to be confronted to see if I was truly seeing the significance of what I was doing or if I was always looking to something more exciting.
What is the biggest compliment and worst criticism of your book so far?
Michael: The biggest compliments I have received have come from people in my life who would consider themselves to be “ordinary” – they have regular jobs, live in regular homes, and do the regular stuff of life. It’s been great to hear them respond how the way they have viewed these components of their lives have changed. Because of the great presence and purpose of God, these regular parts of life suddenly have new meaning and significance.
One of the criticisms I’ve heard is that I am telling people something contrary to what they’ve grown accustomed to hearing in Christian teaching right now – not to take risks. Not to quit their jobs. Not to do something big and huge and grand for Jesus. It’s true that this is part of the message, but I think seeing that as the full message is missing the point. My hope is not to dissuade people from doing things like that but instead to recognize that the true measure of Christian commitment isn’t confined to the enormous decisions; more often, it’s lived out in these small everyday choices of following Jesus in the day to day.
Who should read Boring and why?
This book is for the stay-at-home mom and the office job dad. It’s for the regular church member and the ordinary citizen. It’s for the person who has ever looked at the seemingly mundane details of life and wondered if they are really doing anything that’s worthwhile. It’s for all of us ordinary people who are following an extraordinary God.
My hope, as you read the book, is that you would be awakened to the myth of the ordinary as you see an extraordinary God who is constantly moving and working. I’m praying that you might see the greater purposes in a few specific, but often ordinary areas of life that we tend to push to the margin. And maybe, when we get to the end, we will have begun to view God, and life, and a whole new way. Perhaps we will have begun to see that there really is no such thing as ordinary when you are following an extraordinary God.
Congratulations to the winners: Shelly Wotton, Anna Jane, and Jim