You’re preaching to the choir.
As a pre-teen, my father tasked me with regularly mowing an acre of grass with a push mower. He claimed, “It will build character.”
Well, Dad, I’m not one hundred percent sure about the character piece, but the experience definitely engrained within me a lasting disdain for mowing grass.
Maybe you love mowing grass, but I would imagine some ordinary task greets you with a smile on a regular basis. As a church planter, the grinning, growing grass has mocked me more than once.
As if I don’t already struggle to regularly butcher the grass before it becomes a neighborhood badge of shame, now the ordinary nature of the task pales in comparison to the extraordinary nature of gospel work for King Jesus.
But what’s the big deal? If I’m pouring myself out in ministry, then who cares that my grass is a foot tall?
I think we should care. Why?
An insidious snake hides in that foot-tall grass. He whispers lies to us. And if we pay attention, we realize we don’t just hate certain mundane tasks. For many of us, our real problem is we loathe the ordinary and want to be extraordinary.
Stepping into faithfully stewarding our ordinary responsibilities alongside our extraordinary is good for us for several reasons.
1) Accomplishing Ordinary Tasks Strengthens Us
When we’re doing extraordinary things for God, we need ordinary tasks to ground us.
By extraordinary, I do not mean leading fifty people to Jesus while multiplying three small groups in the middle of a grand slam sermon. I mean representing God with our lives and words.
Being a pastor is an awesome privilege in every sense of the word. We care for people’s souls. We deal in matters of eternity. Life and death hang in the balance. The stakes are high, and by God’s grace our work will last. That’s pretty extraordinary, and that kind of work can be exhilarating.
Attending to mundane tasks helps us avoid becoming addicted to the extraordinary or to our egos.
The beads of sweat trickling down my face in my backyard remind me that I’m just like everyone else, doing my best to balance work, rest, family and friends. These ordinary tasks strengthen my conviction to “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3).
- How do you feel about the ordinary to-dos in your life?
- Are they interruptions—pain-staking tasks to push through?
- Or are they opportunities for faithfulness in the little things—A godly reminder not to think of yourself “more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment” (Rom. 12:3)?
2) Accomplishing Ordinary Tasks Strengthens Our Family
Here is a reminder we all know yet often forget. When we pour every ounce of our energy into our church, we won’t have much left for family.
Actions speak loudly. When I pour energy into planning, organizing, strategizing, communicating and executing at church and yet do none of these things in the home, I communicate something to my family, church and world.
At best, I communicate I am stretched too thin without healthy boundaries. At worst, I communicate that going to work at church excites me more than my home.
Do our wives feel like we’re engaged in the home, or do they feel like family constantly gets our leftovers?
Certain tasks are so mundane that they might seem unimportant, yet the Bible clearly connects a lack of disciplined leadership in the home as a disqualification in the household of God (see 1 Tm. 3:5).
Creating time and space to attend to home duties is hard work. It’s a lot easier to work hard at church and to crash at home. But it’s worth it. Attending to ordinary tasks around the house communicates love to our wives, models discipline for our children and ultimately qualifies us to pastor in our churches.
- Are you listening to your wife’s concern about your work pace, or are you brushing it off as her lack of understanding of the importance of church work?
- What is it about your pace and schedule that keeps you from having energy at home?
- Do you view mundane house chores as a gift from God to encourage you to slow down and to reflect on what matters most in life?
3) Accomplishing Ordinary Tasks Strengthens Our Witness
The extraordinary coaxes and conditions us so much that we often don’t realize how it influences us. The photos we post. The stories we share. The language we use. The newsletters we send. They all communicate that we are extraordinary people doing extraordinary things for an extraordinary God.
We even read Scripture with our extraordinary-glasses on.
Consider the following verse: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). I read this verse and imagine eating an extravagant meal with an aged drink savoring every flavor with a thankful heart all to the glory of God.
- But what if the true heart of this passage is to eat the burnt pork chops with the plain glass of water to the glory of God?
- What if most of our lives are spent in the ordinary?
- What if God wants to meet us in a lowly manger rather than a high king’s palace?
Would we accept the invitation to meet God in the ordinary or reject it for what we perceive as a more promising experience?
I’m growing in a conviction that I can mow my grass to the glory of God. This renewed vision for the ordinary has not only decreased my complaining, but now I also cut my grass on the diagonal. I want to cut my lawn well because I’m doing it for Jesus.
As I think of what my whole life communicates to the church, the world and all the powers and principalities in the unseen places, I desire others to see a man who enjoys Jesus in the ordinary, not just the extraordinary.
May our witness to the world be that we are nothing special. May we live humble, ordinary lives as we follow an extraordinary, miracle-working Savior. And may we cut our grass with joy and thankfulness to Jesus.