Establish | Breaking through the Boredom Barrier
Work: we love it and yet we often dread it. It’s particularly dislikeable when we don’t feel that there is purpose in what we’re doing; when it’s simply mind-numbingly boring.
Since graduating in 2015, I’ve had my fair share of dull jobs which left me questioning why I had expended effort over the past three years getting degree from Durham! From researching penguins (really not as fun as it might sound!) as a Polar Regions Desk Officer (also not as cool as it sounds), to manning the reception at a five star hotel (really not that glamorous) to logging reports in a private investment company (lots of paper cuts!). Each of these roles provided moments, and maybe even hours, where I felt a sense of despair at being trapped in something that was unfulfilling and life-sapping. Looking back on these times, I am able to see that a number of things were skewed in my mind and heart. Subsequently, and through no easy process, this is what I’ve realised and have to remind myself on a regular basis:
1. God created work before the fall which means God intended it for good.
In Genesis, we clearly see a God of work who designed beings to work. When God set about doing his work, it wasn’t pointless, but rather creative and productive. We were also made to steward, contribute and produce. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15). Whilst sitting at my desk, counting down the minutes until I could go home, I had it all wrong. I didn’t see work as a good thing in which I could live as God made me. I’m not saying that understanding this magically makes work easy, but it should remind me that work is fundamentally good.
2. I can glorify God in my work… even when it is boring.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31). The workplace is where God can work through us for his glory but also where God can work in us for his glory. I’ve found that He works through me as salt and light in my workplace when I have chances to speak of my faith in Jesus, or when I shape the workplace ethos by having integrity and positivity when things are hard, or by loving my colleagues. “…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). When work was boring, I could have been a whole lot better at sharing the gospel or using my time to do more acts of kindness – making my colleagues cups of tea, offering to help out if someone was under pressure. God can work through these things to draw people to himself. Secondly, I’ve found when frustrated with lack of challenge at work, God is often refining me to be more like Christ. My pride has regularly lead me to think that I could be doing something much better or that I’m too good for the role I’m in, or the company I’m with. God can use these dull situations to chip down our pride: “He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way” (Psalm 25:9). These tough work situations can be a refining fire which ultimately makes us more like Jesus, bringing him much glory.
3. Give thanks to God in all circumstances.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). It is easy to forget that we are an incredible privileged minority, particularly when our friends seem to be in fulfilling, highflying and meaningful jobs. When I was worn down with monotony, it was so easy to be ungrateful for employment and an income, forgetting that God is my provider and that many people would love to be in employment, earning a salary. As an enabler of thankfulness, reminding me of all God has given me, I can turn my earning into generosity – letting my money speak of Christ as my supreme treasure. Not a fulfilling job. More than this, I can give thanks regardless of burdensome work because I know I am a child of God who has all I need in Christ. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3).
When you’re longing to escape during a tedious day at work, know that God has good purposes for your work. It is not a second-rate part of life. As John Piper said, “Work is a glorious thing. If you are starting to grow lazy, I summon you back to joy. God made us to work. He formed our minds to think and our hands to make.”
Work with purpose. Work with joy. Work with thankfulness.
Having graduated from Durham two years ago, Lara recently got married and lives in Guildford with her husband where they attend King’s Church Guildford. She braves the commute into London each day where she works in Whitehall for the Government. In her spare time, Lara enjoys rowing, long walks, catch ups with friends over coffee, reading good books and eating spicy Asian food. Lara grew up abroad and loves traveling the world, seeing all of God’s incredible creation and beautiful people. She can’t wait until heaven where all the nations will be gathered around the throne of God singing His praises.