Called To Be Boring?

I’m blessed to serve at a church that is full of tons of young people who desperately want to be obedient to God’s call in their life.  I think they often fall into the trap of thinking that “God’s call” will come in the form of big, bold, and anything but boring.  With than in mind I loved the article I read last night in Relevant entitled “We Need Boring Christians.”  Andrew Byers wrote…

Many of us want to do something awesome, something epic.  We tend to think that the more normal, the less “spiritual.” So it is quite possible that our aspirations to be radical stem from dangerous ambitions to perform biography-worthy feats of global glory.

But radical discipleship is not adventure tourism.

Following Jesus is not to be romanticized through impressive Facebook status updates or photos of exotic places on our blog.  Discipleship is often ugly, messy and painful. Faithful service will regularly lead us into dull labors and bewildering struggles that would make unexciting press.  To romanticize social justice or cross-cultural evangelism is to promote an idealism that will be inevitably vaporized on the field, inadvertently leading to burnout and cynicism.

The first person to be filled with the Holy Spirit for a task in the Bible was not commissioned to lead a battle or to prophesy over Israel. Bezalel (ever heard of him?) was filled with the Spirit to build stuff.  To make art. To carve, mold and weave.  He was the guy God commissioned to build the tabernacle and its accoutrements (Exodus 31.1-5).

Spirit-anointing does not always propel us into radical action.  Instead we may find ourselves entrusted with tedious, meticulous handiwork that feels … well, boring.

 

So what do you think? Is it possible that your “calling” may not be sexy, exciting, and viewed as incredibly important to the rest of the world?

42 Responses to “Called To Be Boring?”

  1. Joyce says:

    This really has me thinking. I used to feel llke my testimony was ‘boring’. My dad had one of those Paul-like conversions and people would sit glued to their seats when he shared his story. (He was also a very humble man). I used to wish I had a more ‘exciting’ story to tell but as I’ve gotten older I have grown to appreciate and be so thankful for my boring-raised in a Christian home-testimony. I love to think of the mothers who prayed for their children and whose children grew up and did great things. The power of a praying mom is so often underrated.

  2. Chris Walker says:

    I believe that everyone is made with a unique purpose. Sometimes those purposes are in the spotlight and sometimes they are not. But when someone figures out what their purpose is, because it is tailored to their specific DNA, it is anything but boring to them. It may be boring to someone else because they have a different purpose and different skills. So to the rest of the world it may not be sexy or exciting, but what matters is your own perspective. I am still trying to figure mine out.

  3. dan says:

    To the rest of the world, even the “Christian world”…yes.

    I think if we look at our calling in the context of who we are & how God has gifted us, we’ll see that is actually quite exciting in our own circumstance. A couple weeks ago I preached on the fact that God has a specific role for each person fill, & the fact that when we think about what God has called us to do, it’s often full of uncertainty, it’s terrifying, & it seems impossible.

    The catch though, is that others may see a calling to be a stay at home parent in order to raise your kids in a God honoring way as boring, but it’s exactly what some people were designed to do, to raise children that may end up being some of the greatest world changer in all of history.

  4. Cindy says:

    I am currently praying through a calling to work with boys and young men in a foster home type setting. I see mountains of laundry and dishes in my future, not to mention fun filled conversations on the importance of personal hygiene, money management and how to get along with others. Not so exciting but it is exciting because I feel God’s presence. It will be challenging (and boring at times) but worth it.

  5. Steve Austin says:

    Pete, thanks for this great reminder. Bill Cosby, in his book, “Fatherhood”, said this, “Sometimes you have to get your hands dirty with the kids you love”. It’s the same with Christians and the World. Sometimes we are called to get dirty, to get in the trenches, roll up our sleeves, and do the “dirty work” of the Gospel. I’m so thankful that Jesus was willing to do the same thing.

    Bless you, bro!

  6. Jamie Willow says:

    Having been a pastor, and now a stay at home mom…I can say with certainty that if you are where God wants you, it won’t be boring ;) but maybe just not as glamerous to write/talk/social network about.
    Potty training and leadership training can both bring us to our knees in prayer…

  7. Amy Argo says:

    This is the 2nd reminder in a week that our calling is often not glamorous to the outside world, but always worth it. Thanks for reminding me again :)

  8. Craig says:

    I fall into the trap of thinking that God is calling me to something “bigger”. What happens is that I will wait and wait for that big break…but every day is filled with moments to love someone, share my faith, or grow in my relationship with God.

    God wants to see if He can trust me with the little things & I have to be willing to do the little things :) But again, all of this is from God’s perspective. What I may consider to be little or mediocre is BIG in God’s eyes.

    • Linkyo says:

      Oh! Thank you so much for reminding this being faithful in little things. I think, I also wanted that big breakthrough in my life, and yet I’m doing things that…. Dunno…. Was considered as being foolish to be done.

  9. Hmmm…great thoughts…especially as my husband and I feel God tugging on our heart to go back to Europe…

  10. Jody says:

    Being a member of two spiritual fellowships, I find that one does a better job at ego checking than the other one. That’s what this “boring” debate is really all about: ego and humility. We all want to be rock stars at what we do. It must be very difficult to put personal motives to the side when leading In a church environment. Glad I am not a pastor

  11. Sherie says:

    I think it is more than possible, I think it likely true. There was a time I wanted to do something noteworthy in the eyes of people, but now I want to make Christ noteworthy instead of me. I love the line “Discipleship is often ugly, messy and painful.”. That is what I want to do. I want to enter into the ugly, messy, painful, and broken things of this world. I believe “radical” means living in a manner that goes to the extreme, stretches you, and reshapes you. It is about what Christ is doing in us because of how we live, and how he is pouring out our lives to shape and affect others. It is not about if the world sees us as radical. I hope that I am seen as radically compassionate, loving, gracious, hope-filled, joyous, peacemaking, humble, patient, faithful, gentle, and kind. I am happy to do the boring work as long as the right person gets noticed. :)

  12. Yesterday I asked God what he wanted me to do for him and the answer was to call an elderly stay-at-home woman. I did and then just listened and felt compassion for her for half an hour as she spelled out her troubles.

    I know my calling isn’t sexy or exciting but I still felt God’s love as I did it and that’s worth it.

    On the other hand my tasks from God today are to learn to use the microphone I got for my new radio program and to call the local “in a holler” elementary school to tell them we’re bringing 26 school bags filled with school supplies to give to the neediest students.

    The radio show is kind of exciting to me! And scary.

  13. Mela Kamin says:

    Absolutely – only have to look as far as the faithful, prayer-warrior Moms in the trenches of life – boring to some and yet it’s a holy and meaninful ministry – even in sweats & ponytails.

  14. Brett says:

    This is the single most important thing young adults and youth need to hear. It is, in fact, the hardest to hear.

  15. Jon says:

    Nice reminder that God calls to all of us in both the thunder and the whisper. Thanks Pete.

  16. Jamie says:

    This makes me feel so much better because my life is pretty “boring.” :)

  17. Michael says:

    It’s very likely. But that’s where we make the mistake. Many of us, myself previously, have gotten caught up in being up front. When in all actuality, we are all called uniquely. It’s just some of the things that we are called to do may appear to be boring to everyone else.

  18. judy says:

    Yes, Pete I agree that it is possible and have been considering this lately, but I would like to say this one thing……….God is not boring. My perception of what my calling is has changed, but my view of God has not. Someone told me once that God was boring and I can’t accept that, I don’t think that’s what you are saying here, but I wanted to stress this. I just came back from a holiday, on the island, so we went to the beach everyday and I noticed this young woman in a wheelchair, and wondered what her story was. It just seemed to be such a contradiction to me to not be able to run in the ocean or look for shells and be free and to see her stuck in that chair….bothered me. Then it struck me how we are all the same and what I considered what freedom was or that idealism I had about doing something huge for God had to change. I still want to know that ladies story, but not because I feel sorry for her, but because she had something to say, her life mattered and she enjoyed herself in that place where she was, in that wheelchair @ the edge of the ocean, with the wind in her hair, she spoke to me.

  19. Amy D says:

    Yep. After sitting through a service where the missionaries were prayed over, I was taking notes through heartache, tears and jealousy. I wanted to be them and God said no. Over and over and over. I wanted excitement. He gave it to me, just not how I wanted. As I sat there, I clearly felt him tell me to serve my family. Motherhood has been my primary mission field for over 2 years now. (I’ve been a mom for 14 years though!).

    It’s not a field that anyone is ever going to think is the greatest thing ever, but that’s between me and God. :)

  20. Jesse says:

    Thanks for putting this out to a wider audience, Pete!

    This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while now and was glad to see the article on Relevant. It seems one of the most popular messages being preached in churches these days is about doing spectacular, news-worthy things for God. And, to an extent, it’s understandable why: we want people to realize their full potential in Christ.

    There’s a degree to which, if we are to believe a good number of evangelical pastors, normal is synonymous with sinful. Or at least non-preferential. Personally, it’s why I think there seems to be an increase of kids going off to some missional assignment for a year or two after high school rather than college. Of course, I’m not saying it’s bad for them to do so, but it certainly is a shift and one that I think is driven by this sort of “do something extraordinary for God” thinking and teaching. And we’re seeing the results of that play out in what is being called “extended adolescence”.

    The unfortunate and unintended side-effect is that Christianity is turned into something which is the means to our own selfish, greedy ends (and, hey, when it’s dressed up with Christian love, it makes it pretty easy to do). The kind of faith where the invitation is “come and live a story worth telling” is good – attractive even – but it may not be synonymous with “come and die.” And until we’ve responded to the latter, we will not be equipped for the former. My own speculations on Jesus being tempted in the desert play into this narrative: for Jesus to succumb to the temptations was as much about shortcutting his own call to die as about his physical hunger.

    It’s for that reason that I think the church should stick to the “come and die” call and let the Holy Spirit take care of the other. The boring and mundane is what has always characterized the lives of saints past. What gets captured in stories and biographies are simply highlights, snapshots between the longer “normal” periods. N.T. Wright’s after you believe goes into a lot of this and is definitely a book worth checking out if you havent.

  21. Tim Thurman says:

    I used to play semi-professional tennis. I can still hear my coach’s words echo in my mind, “Hit boring winners.” Too often on the tennis court I would try to hit the amazing shot instead of just hitting the solid shot that would win my the point. I think you have hit the nail on the head by applying this principle to our faith.

  22. Tessa says:

    This was a very thought provoking post. Sometimes I get caught up in reading blogs by people who are doing tremendous things for the sake of spreading the gospel. I enjoy reading their stories and dreaming about what it would be like if I was to do something this big, this huge, this monumental. And then, I turn off my computer and am zapped back to reality. That is not my life. My calling is not to travel halfway across the world or to set up churches in broken areas of town.

    And that’s ok. God has called me to something different. It may not ever be known to anyone else, but I believe in what God has told me to do.

  23. bruce crews says:

    sometimes “boring” people can accomplish things that the “rockstar” can’t or won’t. we aren’t all called to preach to massive congregations, to lead worship in front of throngs of believers. some are called to minister to only a few people. some of us are called to be the nuts and bolts guy for the rockstar. it might look boring or mundane to some, but if it’s what God has called you to, you thrive like you never have thrived before.

  24. Carrie says:

    Yes.

    As a college student, I used to believe that exciting = spiritual. 15 years and much, much, struggle later, I’m realizing that I didn’t have the character, in my youth, do to great things for God.

    I had the time, and the ego :), but not the character.

    I’m still working on the character! And the hard truth is that it takes a lot of servanthood and drudgery to cultivate it.

  25. Patti says:

    Yes, yes, yes, and yes!!

    I work at a Christian high school and struggle so much with the message they seem to receive from youth conferences and youth pastors that they need to do BIG THINGS FOR JESUS in order to be living their faith. They must be ON FIRE ALL THE TIME. They need to go to mission fields and search for the mountaintop experience all the time. And there’s absolutely a place and time to encourage all of those things – but I think the dangerous message that sometimes is heard by the kids is that if they don’t feel “on fire” then they aren’t loving Jesus. If their goal is to go forth and be the best stinkin’ electrician they can be, they are somehow less significant to the kingdom than someone who is a missionary or an enthusiastic music pastor or youth director.

    Jesus wants our passion. He wants our heart. But I believe that Jesus also very much values the mundane – when we treat our family well, when we make good use of the talents he’s gifted us with, when we choose to recycle instead of throwing away that newspaper. Nothing glamorous, pretty boring, but at the heart of who we are called to be.

  26. gitz says:

    honestly, i’ve always felt like my calling is to be the encourager who lifts other people up so they can do great things. and then my life turned into this homebound standstill and I discovered that’s exactly what i could still do. i am the one with time on her hands to pray for those who are out there doing. and i’m ok with that. the elbow may be boring, but it’s still necessary to get the hand to the mouth :)

  27. Jennifer says:

    Loved this!! For quite some time I felt that to be a really “great” Christian I needed to go out into the mission field, spread the Gospel, and lead 100′s of people to Christ. While I have done the first two of those, God has really opened my eyes to what my calling is. My calling is to be a wife and a mother. To encourage, support, and love my husband and raise children who love Jesus passionately. Seeing this calling on my life begin to become reality is so amazing.

  28. Mel says:

    Until very recently I defined myself through others’ eyes (ok, who am I kidding, God is still working on this in me). Lately though, I’ve had an oportunity to understand some of the “boring” things that God has called me to do, like be a good mom/wife/daughter/sister/friend. And if I’m going to be completely honest, when I look at that list alone, I feel like I need a nap without ever flying off to some exotic place without bathrooms and limited electricity. It’s not that there is anything WRONG with doing missions work. I would love to bring the message of Jesus to the nations someday. It’s just that right here and now I’m specificlaly coming to terms with the reality that while some of my friends are going to South America on what seems like a quarterly basis, there is nothing wrong (and everything right) with me staying home and taking care of my little one.

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