I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame.

Joel 2:25-27

 

Green beans being picked in a garden.When I was growing up, on some Friday nights in the summer, my dad would announce to my sister and me, “Don’t make any plans for Saturday. We’re all going to be working in the garden!”

“Ugh! Working in the garrrrrdennnnn?!?!” my sister and I would whine in response.

My dad didn’t even acknowledge our retort. He had spoken and, for better or worse, my dad’s word is his bond. So, early on those particular Saturday mornings, we’d eat a hearty breakfast and head out to my dad’s vegetable garden where we’d spend hour upon hour, stooped over rows of green beans, plucking them from their vines and dropping them into a bucket that we dragged behind us in the dirt.

It wasn’t really hours. But it sure felt like it. I remember thinking there couldn’t possibly be work that was any more boring than picking one green bean after another, after another, after another. If I had only known.

Each of us has had a job that failed to challenge us. We’ve found ourselves sitting at a desk, trying hard not to fall asleep. We’ve clocked in at work only to watch the seconds creep by, wondering if we’d ever get to clock out again and be free from our monotonous, mind-numbing labor. If you’ve had this experience, you know what it feels like to dread Monday mornings with passion, and you know how jobs that fail to challenge us can also deflate our confidence and trample on our hope.

If you find yourself in a season of boring, unfulfilling work, it might help to keep these three truths in mind:

The job is a means to an end. Picking those green beans in the summer with my dad always resulted in fresh green beans on my dinner plate. For that, I was always thankful. Even today, eating fresh green beans reminds me of Saturday mornings with my family, dropping green pods into a bucket. It’s always a good memory, because — even though I hated the work at the time — I always appreciated, and was deeply thankful for, the result. For some of us, our jobs only serve to put food on our table. That gift of provision often gets lost in the tediousness of a boring job. But, when we can focus on the way God provides for us — even through the most boring work — our perspective shifts, even if only for a moment.

The job does not define you. The fact that you’re working in a boring, uninteresting job does not make you a boring, uninteresting person. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that when you’re doing such unfulfilling work. You might feel stuck, or maybe you even feel like a failure. But, that could not be further from the truth. Knowing the truth about who you are is based upon understanding whose you are. Even if you’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company and you thrive in your workplace and at home and in the community, all of that means nothing in the end, if you don’t truly understand what it means to be loved by God, unconditionally.

The job you have is temporary. No matter what job you hold right now, the chances are great that it won’t be your job forever. Even if you love your job, it’s probably not going to last. Downsizing, restructuring, retirement, and more are all possibilities for each of us. With this in mind, we can focus on doing good work where we are right now, while holding our position loosely and leaving room for God to work, whatever comes our way.

Maybe you’ve heard someone quote the verse in the Bible that tells us God will restore the years the locusts have eaten. Maybe we’ve heard that and wondered if God has forgotten about the locusts in our fields? In the original language, the word restore is pronounced, shä·lam’ and means to be at peace with. To those of you who find yourselves in jobs that seem to be going nowhere for no good reason, I pray God’s peace for you today, and many blessings for the harvest to come.

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:

Have you ever had a boring job? How did that job make you feel about yourself? What’s one good thing you experienced as a result of that job?

PRAYER:

God, I hate my job. It makes me feel small and insignificant. I know that’s not the truth about me, though. Help me to find peace in my work, for as long as you have me in this role. Thank you for the money and the stability the job provides for me and the people I love. Even in this boring job, help me to serve my employer well. Amen.

 

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentaryVocation in Historical-Theological Perspective