A Boring Review
It's not often that an author would've glad that I've read and reviewed his boring book. When I get to hash tag quotes from it as #boringbook, most would think I'm insulting him. Yet, this is the boring book that you will want to digest, and you'll find it anything but. Rather, it addresses all the boring areas of your life and offers you profound solutions for recovering meaning and joy in them. Michael Kelley's premise in Boring is that even the most routine and mundane area of life - places where we're tempted to overlook opportunities for significance - are actually moments of profound invitation for the Christian.
Michael begins with the obscure story of pre-king Saul looking for some of his dad's lost donkeys. It's a tale that most of us zip by 1 Samuel 8. We read quickly because it's, well, boring. And that's why the book is sublimely powerful. As Michael unpacks this seemingly irrelevant incident, he reveals that what we often consider as mundane, routine and boring are not viewed as such by God. Rather, God is in process of doing something significant - in Saul's case of providing Israel with its first king.
"..the donkeys aren't a distraction from the work of God; the donkeys are the mechanism that God used to awaken Saul to something deeper.. What if those ordinary details of life are actually the mechanism by which we get to see and experience God and His redemptive plan in a living and vibrant way?"
For the rest of the book, Kelley provides chapter after chapter of seemingly boring areas of life in which God's activity is profoundly present yet maddeningly obscure for those of us paralyzed by the familiar. Our finances are boring. Our work is boring. Some would say the day-in, day-out of kids, spouse, car, eating, etc are so mundane as to numb the soul.
Michael contends throughout that we're callous to the extraordinary because we have believed the lie that what is worth pursuing is excitement, new, improved - the great "other." It's the age-old desire to escape because "the grass is always greener."
But Michael asks, "What if there is a way to live a normal, ordinary life in an extraordinary way?" In fact, he asserts,
"Ordinary is a myth."
As a fair disclaimer, Michael sent me a free copy of his book for a review. However, after the first chapter, it wasn't a chore for a friend. Reading Boring was a delight. In fact, I had to email him and beg for a pre-release hard copy because I wanted to underline, and the digital copy he sent wouldn't allow me to do that on my iPad.
I can easily recommend this book to.. well, anyone who lives in a consumer culture like ours. It's a refreshing call to simplicity, joy and significance in the middle of what we all normally do. If you've ever found yourself bored and wanting out of something because of its mindless repetition, this book is for you. Spouse, are you getting bored with your marriage? There's a chapter here that will renew and revive your relationship. Are you neglecting to notice people around you because of your hectic schedule? Read the chapter Shooting the Breeze, and you'll be reminded how all people are created on the image of God. No one is boring. Is your attitude toward money such that you simply spend it on yourself some and pay the bills? Get out of that boring perspective and discover more that you can do with your finances through faith.
"We find ourselves bored in life not because of the absence of the extraordinary, but because of our paralyzing lack of vision."
This book will help you have a new, improved life - not by acquiring more or changing your circumstances - but by transforming your perspective. You'll see that Moses was having an ordinary day tending sheep when he encountered an extraordinary God in a burning bush. The scene is repeated throughout the scriptures as God interrupts those who are in the middle of ordinary lives with invitations to significance.
This is no lightweight book. Michael addresses some significant issues - about our marriages, our kids, our selfishness and queasiness to be faithful in the mundane. Boring is a bomb of truth for our Christian subculture that wants to do something out of the ordinary but that does it without the calling or presence of God.
It was a privilege reading Boring. Michael is a ministry friend who's spoken at our church and is authentically living what he writes of - not that he's boring. He's just written the Boring book.