Learn How to Do Boring Well

Hi. I’m Rick Grover, and I’m a Kansas City Chiefs fan. There. I’ve said it. After reaching the Super Bowl the last two seasons and the AFC Championship game the last three years, the Chiefs have started this season 3-4 and lead the NFL in turnovers by a wide margin with eighteen. 


On a radio sports talk show this past Sunday, former NFL quarterback, Trent Dilfer, said that the reason why Kansas City is doing poorly is because they’ve forgotten how to do the basics well. He said they have all this star power with Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelcey, but they’re not doing the little things that seem inconsequential and yet are really what win games. 


Dilfer said, “You’ve got to do boring well.”


Os Guinness calls this “the splendor of the ordinary” (The Call, 248). He says, “It is simply ludicrous to pretend that all our work is exciting, fulfilling, and profitable. Much work is drudgery, and there is no getting away from it. It simply has to be done” (idem.). 


Things like blocking and tackling. Things like washing dishes and taking out the trash. “In politics,” Abraham Lincoln used to say, “every man must skin his own skunk.”


In marriage, we tend to think success comes with a touchdown pass of an expensive vacation or buying your spouse a new car. But, although exciting in the moment, expensive vacations end, and new cars grow old. We then try to build our marriages on leaping from one momentary high to the next rather than learning how to do boring well.


Whether in football, marriage, or faith, we buy into the lie that the more exciting the moment the greater the win. But what the Kansas City Chiefs are coming to realize is that if you fail to execute in the little things, you fail to win games. 


We have far more at stake in our marriages and faith than what the Chiefs have with their win-loss record. Rather than trying to rely on the flashy, exciting, and thrilling, let’s build our faith and families on the splendor of the ordinary. 


Hudson Taylor, a great nineteenth-century pioneer missionary to China, used to teach: “A little thing is a little thing, but faithfulness in a little thing is a big thing.” Similarly, Mother Teresa said, “I don’t do big things. I do small things with big love” (ibid, 249).


A number of years ago, Laura and I stayed at Shaker Village, just south of Lexington, Kentucky. One of the great contributions of this religious society was their craft of furniture-making. Their philosophy was: “Make every product better than it’s ever been done before. Make the parts you cannot see as well as the parts you can see. Use only the best of materials, even for the most everyday items. Give the same attention to the smallest detail as you do to the largest. Design every item you make to last forever.” Each Shaker chair, it was said, was made fit for an angel to sit on. 


Not a bad philosophy for more than chairs—marriage, raising children, our walk with Christ. I encourage you to evaluate how you’re living your life and learn how to do boring well.