Jul 19, 2021 • Written by Rachel Boulos
3 Ways to Find Meaning in the Mundane
I’ve been a bit frazzled these last two weeks. The culprit? Those perpetual little tasks I finally check off my list only to find them on it again…an hour later.
You know the ones. Dishes. Laundry. Cleaning. And how are there still clothes on my floor?? For the love of all things organized, can the mailman please stop drowning me in a mountain of papers to sort? Can things stay frozen in time (after I’ve deep cleaned) so a girl can get some peace around here? The futility of the mundane is driving me crazy.
At times I wonder, am I just wasting my life?
Because my work and toil feel in vain. Because the house will be a mess again by sunset. Because organizing a world that is destined for chaos makes me wonder if it’s even worth it.
But what if there is meaning in the mundane?
What if you’re not wasting your life? What if there is a bigger purpose at play when you sort the mail, change diapers, do the laundry and sweep the floor?
Here are three truths I’ve learned that have changed my perspective and helped me discover meaning in the mundane tasks of life.
1. THE MUNDANE LEADS TO WORSHIP.
How you view the tasks on your list will greatly impact your life and emotions.
When I looked at my to-do list, I mentally separated my tasks into two categories: the Meaningful and the Meaningless. I actually believed that some of my work was meaningless and unimportant. When I spent time on those tasks, I felt like I was wasting my life and found myself frustrated, distracted and anxious. I started resenting my work because it was stealing away time from what I viewed was more important.
But what if all tasks are meaningful?
In the Bible, God gave Adam a job. It was yard work, my friends. And who wants to clip bushes when you can hang out with dinosaurs all day? But God gave Adam a garden and told him to cultivate it, to care for it, to work it. The Greek word used for work in this passage is also the same word that is used for worship.
God didn’t see Adam’s daily work as meaningless. He saw it as worship.
All work is meaningful because God gives it meaning. Even lawn care. Because whatever I do, I’m working for the Lord (Col 3:23) and when I do it well with all my heart, God considers it worship.
2. THE MUNDANE PREPARES YOU FOR THE FUTURE.
But how much eternal value can there really be in scrubbing toilets? Do my monotonous tasks actually fit into God’s greater purpose for my life?
Actually, yes. A clean toilet can be part of God’s plan for your life.
Sometimes I get so focused on my future calling that I miss out on my present purpose. I can easily forget that the little tasks are what prepare us for the bigger ones.
Adam kept a garden. David led a flock. Peter caught fish. God used what looked like meaningless jobs to prepare them for their future.
Moses was a shepherd long before he led God’s people through the wilderness. David managed a flock before he managed a kingdom. Peter fished from a boat before Jesus called him to fish for men. Though it seems mundane at the time, there is often great purpose and preparation found in our humble circumstances.
Whatever work you have, big or small, has been intentionally given to you. This is your garden. This is your flock. Right now, God may be using your present to prepare you for your future. He is using the mundane to develop skills in you today that will be vital for tomorrow: Discipline. Patience. Perseverance. Joy. Contentment. Focus. Stewardship. Whatever God wants to build in you, you can bet He is using your current situation to do it.
How have your circumstances been specifically crafted to shape your character?
3. THE MUNDANE PRODUCES FAITHFULNESS.
God uses the mundane to produce faithfulness in us. The question is, will we manage the little things well? Will we fulfill our responsibilities without finding fault in them?
God often starts by giving us something small to manage first. He uses it to equip and prepare us for more down the road. One sheep at a time, God prepared and equipped David for the responsibility of King. And because David was faithful with the little that he had, God gave him more to manage.
Recognizing these three truths about the mundane is changing my tune. God sees my mundane and will not let it go to waste. He is working out His plan for my life and using my routine work to do it.
So when the laundry piles up, the kids get cranky, and the lawn needs mowed, remember it isn’t all for nothing. There is meaning in the mundane.
May we stay faithful in the small things, for “whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” (Luke 16:10). May we fulfill our responsibilities with joy and worship the One we serve, knowing that in His hands the mundane holds an eternal purpose.