What they don’t tell you in college, what your parents don’t prepare you for, what you’re job interview will surely not cover, is that the majority of your life is lived in the mundane. The necessary, tedious, and ordinary everyday activities that aren’t exciting or glamorous, but you cannot avoid.
It’s been on my mind a lot lately, partly due to conversations with college graduates who are joining the cubicle world and have found it, shockingly, less exciting than living with thousands of the same age, same time availability of college life people that allows for spontaneity and the creation of excitement at every moment.
Now the mundane usually frustrates people because they see no grand purpose in those activities and it even can lead some to be depressed when they find their worth in their activity and realize that 85% or more of their activity occupies the mundane. As I’ve thought about it, I can’t help but see the immense value in the mundane in how it transforms us and how we can transform it into purposeful living.
The Mundane will Transform You
I’ve seen from my own life and my friends that the mundane things in life have the ability to bring out the various shortcomings that exist in all of us. Only when the flurry of activity slows and the mundane creep in does the pride of life, the unnecessary frustration, annoyance, and even anger begin to find its way to the surface and can no longer be hidden. The mundane imposes its will on us revealing that we hate to be governed and obligated to do things we deem as unimportant, although they are necessary.
For example, at work you’ll never hear people complain about the opportunity to make a presentation in front of boss, but you’ll always hear the frustrations of having to answer email, respond to voicemail, or file the various “insert-your-corporate-name for TPS reports” to your 11 bosses. Only the mundane, required tasks reveal the missteps that are easy to hide behind our desired activities.
So the mundane brings to the surface the underlying sins that we’d rather hide and presents us with the opportunity for change. For the Christian, it’s the opportunity to deal with what these sins reveal about why we follow Jesus & how we live out our faith. Is it for the exciting purpose-filled activities that can be glamorous in Christianity or is it simply because Jesus is worth following? Do we choose to live out our faith only in the desired activities or will we choose to live out our faith in all of life, even if that means the majority of life is lived in the mundane?
It will always be our tendency to avoid and discard the mundane in search of the exciting, but the mundane can build the character necessary to be effective in and handle rightly the joys of the more exciting and “purposeful”.
But if it’s true that the majority of our lives are lived completing the mundane, we must seek to transform how we approach the mundane.
You must Transform the Mundane
For Christians, all of life is to be used as a proclamation that Jesus is savior of the whole world and redeems all aspect of our lives for His purposes. If, as scripture says, we are to do everything for the glory of God, then we must even seek to complete the mundane with a mind towards honoring God.
This change in approach will force us to view the minor details and life’s necessities in a new light, with a mind towards completing them with the same excellencies we would the exciting and adventurous, with the same joy we would seek in those purpose filled moments. It creates character into an individual who will not compromise in the difficulties and in the end will greatly enhance the most exciting, purposeful activities we truly long for.
I’ve come to be grateful for the mundane (unfortunately, it’s still usually after the fact) for how it transforms me, but I’ve also noticed that as I’ve approached it differently, seeking to transform even the mundane, I find more joy in life through Jesus Christ because the majority of my life, the mundane, is finally used for worshipping Christ.
At a Desiring God pastor’s conference earlier this year, Paul Tripp said “If God does not rule your mundane, he does not rule you.” It has challenged me ever since and I find that my life is filled with the mundane, but it doesn’t have to be boring or a gap-filler between the exciting, it truly can be filled with joy and used in a transformative way.