The God of the Mundane: Reflections on Ordinary Life by Matthew Redmond

Reposting my 2013 review because God of the Mundane is free at NoiseTrade in mobi (kindle format), PDF or epub.
Takeaway: God is the God of our every day mundane tasks and activities just as much (if not more so) than the mountaintop or special times.

If I were going to write a book (which I have no intention of attempting), this is the book I would want to write.  Since Matthew Redmond has already written it I am off the hook.

For the past couple years I have told people that I am attempting to live an ordinary life. It is not that I don’t want to change the world.  It is that I think the way that we are Christians are most effective at changing the world is living as faithful ordinary Christians.

I am all for extraordinary people that are striving after their dreams.  But I just wouldn’t be good at that.  Pressure freaks me out.  Deadlines terrify me.  My ADD means that it often takes me 10 or 12 hours to get a solid 6 to 8 hours of work done well.

I actually liked being a full time nanny even if I have training for other jobs that would pay better.

Matthew Redmond, a former pastor and current banker, from Alabama has a short book that speaks right to me.  This would make a good discussion book for a small group.  The chapters are short (there are 15 chapters and an introduction in 92 pages.)  And it is very quotable.

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 thinking 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.

This book is only $2.99 on ebook. It is available DRM free for multiple formats directly from the publisher.  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.

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Update: My small group is currently working through this book and it has led to good discussion. The second reading of it has been good, but I would like it if Redmond would edit the first chapter and introduction so that they are less overlapping.

The God of the Mundane: Reflections on Ordinary Life for Ordinary People by Matt Redmond Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition (Lendable if you want to borrow it leave a comment below) 

4 Comments

I nearly read the whole book last night in one sitting and look forward to finishing it up today. It is a book with an excellent message for the type A personalities especially. Jesus lived like that for most of his earthly life and we should too. We all need to find where God is at work in our lives and join Him there without worry and with grateful joy.

I am definitely a “victim” of the extraordinary school of thought. I’m not sure if it is something that I learned outright or if I somehow confused the message and internalized the wrong thing, but throughout my 20s I often felt like a failure because I wasn’t some superhuman extraordinary person.

I just turned 32 and just in the last couple of months FINALLY figured out that it is okay not to be a millionaire by 35, not to have the best job in the world, not to have the perfect yard, the best vacations, and/or not to try to be more than who God made me to be.

The truth is, I really love my ordinary life. I have great friends, a wonderful spouse, and I get home at a decent hour every single night. I truly believe the author has hit on a HUGE issue in the church.

I might be able to reach MORE people because I am ordinary and have ordinary problems.

Great review. I read the entire book yesterday and really liked it.

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