When Work is Routine and Life is a Bore

Written by Aryanto Wijaya, Indonesia, originally in Bahasa Indonesia

Disappointment. Boredom. Routine.

These three words aptly described how I felt towards my job at the beginning of 2017.

I had freshly graduated from university (having majored in Journalism), and had great expectations of what would come next. I dreamed of getting a high salary, travelling to new places, and being admired for the work that I did. That was what I believed to be a life of significance.

Sadly, my bubble was popped when I found myself in a job that didn’t match my expectations. My job title was Content Developer, and the majority of my work involved editing articles. I spent most of my time sitting in front of my laptop, staring at the screen, and trying to put words together.

I became a nine-to-five office worker, and my dreams for significance and exploration were extinguished. Work became a routine and life became a bore. The only thing that kept me going was the weekends, when I could escape from boredom to pleasure by doing what I enjoyed. It got so bad that I entertained thoughts of doing things that would get me fired by my boss just so that I could get out of this job and find a new one elsewhere.

I immersed myself in time-wasters, such as surfing social media, when I should have been editing articles. I did this for more than a month and as a result, failed to meet my article quota for that month.

Three months into the job, my boss came to me. He told me honestly that my performance had not met his expectations and gave me the ultimatum: buck up or go home.

It should have been a happy moment for me. Wasn’t that what I was hoping for all along? But for some strange reason, my heart was unsettled when I went home that night. Fear and uncertainty crept into my heart and I felt that there was something seriously wrong with me. I wanted to get to the root of the problem. I cried out to God, “Lord, I don’t know what I should do. I am bored. I am stressed. I don’t like my job, but I don’t want to lose my job. Please help me.”

God heard my cry.

One day, when I was taking the train, I opened my 2015 journal. In it was a quote from American author Mark Galli’s article ”Insignificant is Beautiful”: “The search of significance, especially if connected with changing the world, can blind us from daily activities, trivial jobs, and sordid works which are inseparable parts of life in discipleship.”

 God spoke to me through this. I had yearned for a life of significance where I could do spectacular things and make my dreams come true. Yet I did not realize that this excessive obsession was precisely what made my daily routines feel meaningless. I could not enjoy the many simple things that I actually had because I was constantly dreaming of something else. As a result, I took my job lightly and underestimated the worth of all that I was doing.

In his letter to the people of Corinth, the apostle Paul wrote: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). This verse spoke straight to my heart. Paul doesn’t state that we must preach in the presence of thousands, have a high-flying job, explore faraway places, or have thousands of followers on Instagram in order to glorify God.

No, Paul wrote that even when we eat or drink, we do it all for God’s glory! This means that even the simplest and seemingly insignificant act can be used to glorify God. This new insight led me to realize the problem I had: I forgot to glorify God in all that I did. All this while, I was focused on myself. I focused only on the dreams I had, and forgot that at the end of the day, my dreams were all in God’s hands. Only He has the power to bring them to completion.

If the simple act of eating or drinking can be used to glorify God, then what I do—staring at a computer screen—can also be used likewise. When I do my work for the Lord, it means the Lord is the witness and main audience of my every work. I believe that when the articles I edit get published and bless readers, God pats me on the back and says, “Good job!” Or when I feel drained and at a loss for ideas, God cheers me on and says, “Come on, you can do it!”

 

A Changed Perspective and Attitude

It has been a year since God radically transformed my perspective of the work I do. In my work and daily life, I realized that boredom is inevitable, but rather than focusing on it and being consumed by it, I can choose to look at it in a different light.

Now, instead of complaining about boredom, I try to give thanks for daily routine. When boredom strikes, I take a break to read a book, talk with a friend, and also spend time with God in devotion. These actions have helped me to fight boredom. Previously, I had used traveling as a means of escape, but now, traveling is an opportunity to be refreshed and recharged in my spirit. I gain inspiration from the new friends I meet and new adventures I experience, which help to expand, deepen, and sharpen my perspectives about life and articles I write.

In the face of seemingly mundane work, a quote by Mother Teresa which I have found very helpful is this: Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love. Also, as we become faithful with the small things that God has given us, God will grow and deepen our capacity for more. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16:10)

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