“I’m bored” is not a welcome phrase in our house. Our kids have learned that their mom, the beautiful Jana Kelley, has a prescription for boredom. Any child who makes that declaration will immediately be handed a dust rag and told to clean the baseboards of the house.
Get it? Bored? Board? See what we did there?
We are trying to help our kids see that boredom is a state of mind, not a state of circumstances, and that giving into the impulse of boredom is also a refusal to exercise your imagination. That’s the idea anyway – the jury is still out on the effectiveness.
But perhaps the same thing is applicable to us in a spiritual sense. There are so many Christians who are, frankly, bored. And most of the time, we tell them the solution to that sensation is to take risks! Try a new worship style! Go on some grand adventure with God! Or some other thing like that. I tend to largely disagree with that perspective (I wrote a whole book about it), arguing that there is really no such thing as ordinary, even in the most ordinary parts of life, because of the great meaning infused into the ordinary by an extraordinary God.
The thing about boredom, for most of us, is that we want to sit around and wait for something exciting to come in and change the conditions we’re in. Sometimes that happens, but most of the time it doesn’t, and we have the choice to either sit around and be bored in our marriage, our parenting, our jobs, or whatever else, or we can choose to actually fight boredom.
This fight is actually a spiritual thing. It’s another component of our discipleship, of our growth in Christ. Here then are 4 reasons why we should fight boredom:
1. Boredom leads to sin.
In The Screwtape Letters, Uncle Screwtape comments to this effect: “My dear Wormwood … I have always found that the trough [boring] periods of the human undulation provide excellent opportunity for all sensual temptations.”
This was the case for King David who, when he found himself with not much to do, found himself wandering out on the rooftop to, you know, see what he could see. If we don’t occupy our minds and hearts, if we don’t take every thought captive to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5), then something else will occupy us. Rest assured.
2. Boredom minimizes the glory of Jesus.
Think of a passage like Psalm 19:1-2: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims the work of His hands. Day after day they pour out speech; night after night they communicate knowledge.”
This same King David who later wandered out on the roof was captured by the declaration of the heavens. With such beauty to behold, with such glory to bask in, when we choose an attitude of boredom we are subtly commenting on the sufficiency of Jesus to hold sway over our minds and hearts.
3. Boredom corrupts our ambition.
When we don’t fight against boredom, we will find ourselves dreaming more and more about what might be. This can take many forms, but one of them is certainly our ambition. We daydream and we begin to convince ourselves that we can do more, do better, and are the victims of our circumstance.
Ambition in and of itself is a neutral attribute and because it is it can either be used for good or for evil. But if we’re not careful, our boredom will lead us to think more highly of ourselves and corrupt what might otherwise be godly ambition. Such is the warning given through the prophet Jeremiah: “But as for you, do you seek great things for yourself? Stop seeking! For I am about to bring disaster on every living creature’—this is the Lord’s declaration—‘but I will grant you your life like the spoils of war wherever you go.’” (Jer. 45:5).
4. Boredom reflects an ungrateful heart.
When we give into boredom, we are simultaneously expressing dissatisfaction with where the Lord has seen to put us, who He’s put us there with, and what He’s given us to do. In contrast, the Christian is to pursue contentment which flows from practicing gratitude.
While boredom is rooted in the constant desire for the ever elusive “else,” gratitude recognizes the sovereignty and generosity of a good, good Father.
Don’t be bored, Christian, but also don’t wait to stop feeling bored. Fight it. Actively. And honor Jesus the giver of good things as you do.