Coping with Boredom
Wednesday. Hump-day. For many it's the best day of the week. The day when you start with more than half a week to go till the weekend, but you end the day with the weekend clearly in sight.
So far in this mini-series we’ve looked at work through positive lenses - God’s gift for creativity, purpose and survival. But how does all this square with reality when many of us find work less-than-satisfying, while some of us actually hate what we do day after endless day and week after endless week. When work just pays the bills, and links one weekend of freedom to the next?
Is it possible that the impact of God’s curse in Genesis 3 has rendered work so far beyond repair that for some of us we will never actually find pleasure or purpose in what we do?
Well, in one sense the answer may be yes. There are jobs that most of us would run a mile from having to do… cleaning toilets in Heathrow airport, sweeping streets in Minsk, picking scrap metal from the trash mountains, endlessly fixing a broken photocopier so that you can do mind-numbing menial work on behalf of a colleague.
Sometimes reality is that work is just difficult, unrewarding and even apparently meaningless - that is part of the reality of living in a fallen world. Dreams unfulfilled. Ambitions thwarted. Reality.
When Paul wrote to the church in Colossae, around 60% of the population of the Roman Empire were slaves (ranging from household slaves to oarsmen on Roman galleys). Nobody chose slavery for a job, and few ever had freedom to pursue an alternative career. How did they square their new-found hope and freedom in Christ with the daily reality of slavery?
Paul’s answer is clear - each of them “should work as if working for the Lord… because it is the Lord Christ they are serving” (Colossians 3:22-24). He’s not talking about working for Jesus as an excuse for not caring, but rather to see “working for Jesus” as an incentive to work with greater passion and diligence as if the Lord Himself will inspect their work at the end of the day. Paul connects even this work, which is so far short of God’s creation plan, back to the Eden idea of Avoda (Genesis 2:15) - whatever we do we can and always should do it for the Lord God and for his glory.
There is something important here. Even when work sucks our energy and feels like a waste of time, the manner in which we approach it - as if “for the Lord” - still dignifies our work by putting our effort, sweat and frustration back into the realm of worship - for his glory.
There is no mandate for Christians to cut corners, who seek to leave others doing the hard work or who skip off from work when the boss isn’t looking. Even the stuff that wears us out - filing, tax returns, attention to detail, whatever it is - even these give us the chance to bring glory to our saviour!