Michael Kelley is one of the most gifted writers in evangelicalism today. I’ve been following his blog for years and I’ve read every book he’s written. One of the aspects that initially appealed to me about working at LifeWay was thinking I might get to know Michael better. Sure enough, becoming friends with such a wise, gifted writer been one of the highlights of my time here so far. He’s the funniest introvert I know.

Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life is a needed book. As evangelicals, we are taken with heroes who have accomplished incredible, world-changing feats for God’s kingdom. William Carey’s word, Expect great things, attempt great things, is our motto. The activist stream of evangelicalism is strong, and I’m thankful for it.

But “great things” will look different depending on the family, the person, and the circumstance. And that’s where a book like Boring comes along and flips our way of thinking.

Michael is not telling us to settle for an ordinary life that eschews the radical, world-changing missionaries who give their all. This is not an answer to David Platt’s Radical.

No, this is a book about finding the eternal significance in our daily routines. It’s not about settling; it’s about seeing. Seeing the extraordinary in what we think is “ordinary.” Seeing the soul-satisfying glory of God in our daily grind.

I asked Michael a few questions about his book, which I commend to you wholeheartedly.

Trevin: Why do we need to be okay with a boring life? And why is it we shouldn’t think of life as boring?

Michael: Part of the reason is expectation. The fact is that all of us are going to spend the bulk of our time on this planet doing things that might be considered boring – paying bills, living in a routine, going to work, parenting kids. But because we live in a culture that’s constantly feeding an obsession with excitement and grandeur, we look at these seemingly mundane areas of our lives as things to be escaped from.

But time and time again in the Bible, we not only find instruction about how to live in these ordinary areas, but also the great meaning behind them. Because we want to escape from the ordinary, regardless of our reasoning behind it, one of the things that desire betrays is our subtle belief that true life with Jesus is found outside of those areas. So if we truly believe in the presence and purpose of God, we must look for that presence and purpose inside the ordinary rather than beyond it.

When we do, we can recover the meaning that God has infused in the everyday. It’s that new perspective brought on by our belief in an ever-present God that takes what might be considered ordinary and makes it extraordinary.

Trevin: You talk about how we need to recapture the boring, disciplined aspects of Christianity, because “feelings follow faith.” What do you mean by that?

Michael: More times than not, we are obedient to our feelings. We choose what feels right in any given circumstance. But part of growing in Christ is understanding that like all other parts of our lives, our feelings have been broken by sin and are in need of the redemptive power of God. Growing in Christ, then, involves imposing what we believe onto what we feel.

The psalmist did this all the time when he spoke to his soul: “Why are you downcast, O my soul?” and so forth. In passages like this, the psalmist recognizes that his feelings don’t line up with what he knows to be true about God. He is, in essence, preaching to himself – reminding his feelings of the truth.

When we choose to live according to the truth of God rather than what we feel, we often must contradict our feelings. We must instead choose the road of faith, and when we do, we most of the time find that our feelings follow along. But rarely is it the other way around.

Trevin: I love the chapter where you write about Sundays and the church. You encourage us to look at two levels of reality as we gather with the church. Explain what you mean by that and why we need to see from two perspectives.

Michael: We can look at the church in the way that we can view most other areas of life. We can either view it in a pure physical way – just the nuts and bolts of what’s happening at a given time, or we can expand our vision to see that there is a deeper purpose happening at the same time. A good example of this dynamic is Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well in John 4. She, when she meets Jesus, is purely concerned with her physical need – water. She’s thirsty. But as Jesus interacted with her, He brought her understanding up a level so that she not only focused on the physical but also the spiritual. He helped her see that she wasn’t really thirsting after physical water, but after what only He could give her.

Similarly, in the church, we might well get caught up in the every Sunday kind of routine. There is the singing, the preaching, the wrangling of kids, and the Bible stories. But amazingly, the Word of God tells us that in all these routine actions there is something of profound importance happening. The church, according to the apostle Paul in Ephesians 3, is the arena in which God displays His manifold wisdom.

When we gather together, it’s true that we are singing and listening and reading. But we are also showing forth the wisdom of God to the heavenly powers.

Trevin: “Common, everyday choices are the guts of discipleship.” Why do we downplay common, everyday choices in favor of the showy and grand?

Michael: Part of it is cultural, I think. We are geared toward always looking for the bigger and better, and the more grand that bigger can be the better. What seems to be happening in the realm of discipleship is that we equate spiritual maturity to the size of the decisions we’ve made. While I don’t want to downplay the call to follow Christ with complete abandonment, it seems to me that for most of us that abandonment is lived out in the common and everyday choices we have to make.

Will we be patient with our children? Will we faithfully give of our time and money? Will we be kind and compassionate to those around us? These are often unseen and unheralded choices of the disciple because they are mostly made in quiet repetition. But when we live in these small faithful ways, we find ourselves making those more grand decisions as simply the next step God calls us to.

Trevin: The main point of this book is that God is the one who makes ordinary things extraordinary. How has this realization invested your life with more significance?

Michael: More than anything else, it has helped me to see the validity of the so-called “normal” follower of Jesus – that man or woman who works hard at their job, raises their family in a godly way, and volunteers in their local church. Rarely do we think of these kinds of folks as heroes, but they are the bedrocks. They are the mighty. They are the solid people who live out their faith in the everyday.