One of the things I have been thinking about recently, is how does boredom in the workplace and the “afternoon slump” fit into a Biblical perspective. What does Jesus think about my afternoon tiredness, or ‘boredom’ at work? How does He intend to use it for His purposes? Is there anything I should be doing do fight for excellence? etc, etc. Not that my work is boring (as a whole), but like most people, there are repetitive tasks that need to be done which don’t stretch my mind. These tasks usually lead to a feeling of drowsiness or tiredness, and since I am very keen to integrate my faith with the whole of life including the workplace – I wanted an answer.
Let me also say, that I do think there is a clear distinction between boredom and drowsiness, coming about from different things and having different effects on my ability to work. So, I think what I’m trying to talk about is the drowsiness that springs from boredom.
In my thinking I’ve come up with some ideas, not the whole picture – I’m sure there is more – but enough to satisfy me for now. I’ll probably write a sequel post later.
But my main thinking is that: boredom and drowsiness in the workplace serve to remind me of my own nature. What do I mean by that? Well let me break it up.
They remind me of my:
1) Sinful nature – now, I know I am a new creation (2 Cor 5.17) and that my sinful nature has been crucified with Jesus (Gal 2.20) but there is still a very real part of me that continues to wrestle with my sinful habits (Rom 7). It is very much a case of dead to sin now, but also dead to sin not-quite-yet. When I get bored and drowsy at work I am reminded of the rebellious and broken part of me that wants to dishonor my employer by giving a half-asked job, that wants to give into laziness etc.
This in turn allows me to see these elements of sin in my other spheres of life: laziness in my quiet times or care of my body, my desire to dishonor God and my commitments. When I am reminded of my sinful nature, I am pushed into a posture of prayer and dependence on the Holy Spirit to continue to put to death this rebellious side of me (Rom 8:13)
2) Weakness nature – now thanks to having a great mentor through my time at University, I learnt that there is a big difference between weakness and sin, (even though it is at the point of our weaknesses that we are often most vulnerable to sin), in fact there is a very ‘Un-fallen’ part of our humanity that is weak because God made us this way. English please. When God made us, he made us with areas of weakness for our good and His glory. For example: when He made man He said: ‘It is not good for man to be alone’, in the perfect creation God made man with a weakness, a need for relationship, without it – the situation is not good.
In my boredom and the resulting tiredness I am reminded that I am only human, that i need sleep and rest in order to function properly. This again pushes me closer to God in dependence.
3) Finally on a more positive note: boredom and tiredness remind me of my creative nature. My God is a creative God, I don’t have to look too far in creation to observe that. And me, being made in His image, carry part of that creative-DNA in my humanness. Therefore, when I am bored and doing tasks that are dull, I feel God reminding me that I am to be creative. So I start looking for opportunities to create and make the work more interesting, more engaging, and ultimately more efficient. Now this obviously doesn’t mean I get a pack of coloring crayons out and start working on a canvas, but it means I look for ways to make my job more interesting. An example of this is how I’ve started writing timetable for the afternoon. With a change of activity every half an hour. It’s a small thing I can do, but it helps my mind focus and engage throughout the afternoon.