The Boring Man – a short story

 
Once upon a time there was a boring man named Joe. One day, in a way of acknowledging the boring life he lived, he promised to his newborn son that he would be consistent in his actions as a way of showing his son love. And so, he continued to live in a boring town in a boring state with nothing to do but drink the occasional beer while watching the boring local sports team lose again. He worked every weekday from 8:30am to 5pm in a boring desk job, eating a boring bologna sandwich during his boring 30 minute lunch break. Driving to and from work each day he saw, and waved to, the same boring people and the same boring people waved back. He attended a boring church each Sunday, filled with boring people, and sang the same boring songs before heading to the drab, faux-wood-paneled fellowship hall to eat some of the same boring casseroles brought the previous week. His only hobby was fishing and he spent all of his time doing it at the local fishing hole … which was literally nothing more than a boring hole in the ground that had filled with run-off water. Because it had been polluted by chemicals collected while running into the hole, nothing Joe caught in the hole could be eaten and he could only catch and release the same boring fish every day. In fact, if you ever asked Joe whether he could live an entire day of his life while blindfolded, his answer in emphatic, but boring fashion, would be a hearty yes.

 

Not everyone found Joe boring, however. An older lady who worked as a secretary at his boring job always found Joe’s consistency reassuring, his genuinely attentive greeting charming and his dependable grin always brightened her day.

 

Joe’s boss was never concerned about his output at work and he appreciated having one person whom he didn’t have to coax along with the managerial equivalent of a cattle prod.

 

A grizzled deacon at Joe’s church knew that whenever he needed help visiting the older members who were now shut-ins, Joe would be there … not saying much, but helpful nonetheless.

 

Joe’s best friend for thirty years – another boring man named Joe – knew that Joe would always be there to share a moment, a work project, or even empathize when cares overtook him … even if he did it in silent fashion.

 

Joe’s father and mother were getting on in years and required a lot of care. But both of them knew that they could count on Joe to help them through the daily tasks which were now too difficult for them.

 

Joe’s wife of eighteen years didn’t find him boring either. She viewed his dependability as an act of love, his consistency a source of strength and his constancy a foundation for their entire family.

 

Joe’s son – also named Joe (named after Joe’s best friend) – was not at all boring. Over the years that he grew up, people often commented about how little resemblance there was in the lives of Joe, Sr. and Joe, Jr. Where Senior was constant and steady, Junior was unpredictable and chaotic. But Junior always wanted to be like his dad and over time learned to emulate his dad’s faithfulness.

 

It wasn’t long after his eighteenth birthday that Junior moved away from home and into the big city in order to pursue his dream of making a name for himself in sports broadcasting. Junior didn’t find success in this work, but he continued to follow his dad’s lead in service and care for others. He worked hard to turn his own life into one of consistency and service.

 

Junior’s failures in broadcasting never impacted this service. He was free with what little money he had; giving liberally to anyone who was in need. He also volunteered with his church and one of the local charities which helped the homeless. While there he touched many lives.

 

One life which Joe, Jr. never realized that he touched was a little boy named José. José was seven years old, didn’t have a father and, though his mother worked very hard to provide for them, there were many times when José’s only meal came from the homeless charity at which Junior worked. From afar, José watched Junior; wondering all the while why this young man would spend so much time serving in this way. Before long, José began secretly following Junior home just to watch him. And then, he began following Junior from his home to work … and from work to his errands and from errands to church. It wasn’t long before José built the courage to step into the church himself and slip into the back pew … all in order to see what Junior found so interesting. It wasn’t long before the church itself became interesting to José too; he saw that Junior’s care for others had a deeper reason than something purely self-interested.

 

When Junior finally determined that broadcasting was not going to work out – after working at it for twenty years – he found another job and moved out of the city. But José kept attending that church. He knew that he wanted to be like Joe, Jr.

 

José grew up to be a very caring man in spite of the many obstacles which fate had placed in his path. He was a servant with a consistent and constant love for everyone. He became an elder, preacher and teacher in that inner-city church which he had so surreptitiously crept into as a little boy. Over the years the development of that church astounded many people in the neighborhood because, as every other church in the area seemed plagued by dwindling numbers and half-hearted Sunday praise, the church which José attended kept growing.

 

Being from the area and knowing firsthand the enormous impediments which were in the way of the local children, when José was only 25 he began developing the church into a safe place for further educational growth after school – but education with a foundation of Christ-like service. Though it did little good for most of the kids, some of them became great leaders and servants themselves.

 

One of these young servants was named Sepp. He gave his life to God when he was thirteen – which was the twentieth year of José’s ministry – and seemed destined for nothing more than a simple, unobtrusive life – boring in the extreme. But Sepp decided when he was twenty to organize a missionary training center around José’s school. José helped him get in touch with people who could provide guidance on getting started, but what eventually led to Sepp’s success was a constant, consistent character and drive. He spent twelve years raising the funds for the project. Once construction began, regulations and mishaps increased costs further and pushed a project which was only supposed to take 14 months to a full 4 years. But Sepp pressed on and the first missionary student was finally enrolled 16 years after the plan was first imagined.

 

That first missionary completed training a year later, gathered funds over the following year and then struck out for South America a year after that. His first convert in Peru was a young man named Husiy. After the first missionary from Sepp’s school fell ill and died unexpectedly, Husiy continued to study by correspondence with Sepp’s school’s instructors and Husiy evangelized his area with some success. But after a year of work by himself he requested that another missionary be sent. Sepp’s school sent three new missionaries instead and success came through the Spirit’s intervention as it was illustrated by the service and constancy of the missionaries and Husiy.

 

Within three years of the missionaries’ arrival over ten thousand locals had given their lives to Jesus … or, in other words, those souls were saved four years after Husiy’s conversion … seven years after the first missionary completed training … 23 years after Sepp dreamed of a missionary school … 43 years after José began his after school program … 61 years after José followed Joe, Jr. into the small, inner-city church … 81 years after Joe, Jr. left home … and 99 years after Joe, Sr. made the decision, while holding his newborn son in his arms, to be constant in his devotion, consistent in his character, and a servant example despite the “boring” life he led.

 

The fruit of faithfulness may be many years and degrees away … and that life which bears it is never boring.

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