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The God Of The Mundane: Reflections on Ordinary Life for Ordinary People Paperback – December 1, 2012
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I hate reviews that are primarily quotes, but that seems best for this book. Redmond opens the book with an introduction that says that while he started this book as a pastor, he finished this book as a banker. He is living the ordinary life. This is important because everyone thinks that what they do is important, so
"Plumbers have trouble understanding why I don't worry much about water pressure. Veterinarians think I should care about animals more. Potato farmers think I should eat more potatoes. Lawyers think I should understand the law better. And pastors think everyone is not passionate enough about their faith, like they are....But the problem is that sometimes we pastors tend to forget this. We forget our calling is different from the calling of those we teach and counsel. We push back against the effects of the Fall through the ministry of the word: through counseling and preaching, studying and leading. Plumbers push back the effects of the Fall through fixing leaky pipes. Teachers do it through making sure children learn how to count, and read, and write. Bankers push against the Fall with safes and loans to small businesses."
I am quite aware as a reader who primarily processes the world through reading and then getting alone and thinks through things and then only later testing out those ideas in public that I am exactly like the stereotypical pastor. "If only people would read and think about things like I do then the world would be a better place."
Redmond's answer is
"...my tendency has always been to downplay that [lay people's] work and get my congregants to see it as only a means to an end. Why did they work? For the glory of God, of course. How did they glorify God in their work? By making money so as to fund the work of ministry and missions. Which sounded like, "You work so that I as a pastor can work." Where they worked also existed primarily to serve the work of evangelism. The work was a means to an end, and held no meaning itself. Seasons of ministry surged by before I could grasp my job was not so simple. I could not simply tell these people what to do. I had to help them see how what they are doing is a reflection of God himself and then get them to push into it."
There is a very helpful reflection on the movie It's A Wonderful Life. George Bailey is the hero, the person everyone wants to be like. But we really only want to be like the George at the end. The one that knows that his life is worthwhile and meaningful. No one wants to be like George Bailey at the beginning, the man that works hard at an unimpressive job to keep people in their houses so that they can have strong families. Fighting against Mr Potter is not really the point of George's life. It is a byproduct of doing his job well and redemptively.
The book ends with two charges.
"But I say, be nobody special. Do your job. Take care of your family. Clean your house. Mow your yard. Read your Bible. Attend worship. Pray. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Love your spouse. Love your kids. Be generous. Laugh with your friends. Drink your wine heartily. Eat your meat lustily. Be honest. Be kind to your waitress. Expect no special treatment. And do it all quietly."
and then just a little later
"This little book is not a call to do nothing. It is a call to be faithful right where you are, regardless of how mundane that place is."
I think that all pastors and leaders need to read this book to help understand where the real work of the church happens. And all stay at home moms and people that are not excited about their work need to read this to understand that they are doing exactly the type of work that God has called us to.
To grow up in American evangelicalism is to be inundated with the pressure to perform, to "do great things for God." While I understand the sentiment (who wants to 'do nothing for God?'), the result is a performance-based faith that seems unattainable to the vast majority of believers who are simply using all their strength to provide for their families, keep their marriage together, and struggle just to get to church on time.
Matt does a wonderful job of sanctifying the day-to-day, of giving purpose to changing diapers, and making you feel that doing your job, whatever it may be, is part of ushering in the kingdom that is at hand now. The cold, hard fact of the matter is, most of us will not be famous, will not be well known, will not be missionaries to New Guinea, and will be forgotten to most, even to our own family, after a couple generations. So the message of Scripture, of a God who loves us, of a God who wants us to live an "abundant" life, must apply to the unsung majority, not just to the Apostle Paul's and the Billy Graham's and the George Mueller's.
The thought that being faithful in my day-to-day life, selflessly loving my wife, pouring into my kids, and treating my employees (and my boss!) with dignity and respect, is as much "pushing back against the fall" as being a full-time Christian worker. That is a message we can run with.
I think people tend to rate books higher than they should, so I try to rate books on a harder scale, while being consistent over time. Jerry Foster's book rating scale:
5 - Fantastic. Life-altering. Only 10-20 books in a lifetime.
4 - Very good.
3 - Worth your time.
2 - Not very good.
1 - Atrocious.
The God of the Mundane is a quick, easy read that proves to be a rather potent dose of encouragement. In a time and a culture when we are compared with those exciting, flashy superstars and encouraged to be "American Idols", Matthew B. Redmond speaks softly into the midst of such a culture to remind us that we are not all called to be flashy superstars, be it inside vocational ministry or otherwise. Not all are called to be preachers, evangelists, missionaries, governors, congressmen, doctors, judges, moviestars or pop singers. Some of us are called to be husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, plumbers, electricians, secretaries and mechanics.
Not only are we called to be "ordinary" but the one true God is the same God that governs over all living things, whether they be famous or not. The same God that walks daily with Billy Graham walks daily with me and wants me to be completely satisfied and content in Him.
I myself work in a call center for an insurance company. Not glamorous in the least. I work 10 hour days and get one hour for lunch. Once, while joining me for lunch Matthew B. Redmond said to me, "Love God and do what you want." While not a direct quote from the book, in it he expounds on this same idea. That quote has stuck with me and it, along with the message in The God of The Mundane continues to fuel my passion for contentment and love for God where I am in the present.
Matthew B. Redmond wrote a book about me. And you too.
Most recent customer reviews
Redmond's book is an honest and reflective one. He openly expresses his struggles with monotony and living an average life.Read more