The beautiful mundane

Published 28 November 2012  |  
"Somebody's gotta put food on the table!" That's what I keep telling myself as I sit in front of a computer screen, hour after hour doing data entry. When I'm sitting there tired from a late night and hungry from a late morning, I imagine different guitars and equipment that I can buy with the money that I've earned, I imagine me using that equipment and becoming a better musician, I imagine travelling and performing as a confidently skilled and accomplished artist; I focus on the reward in often desperate attempts to get through the long days of monotonous work. I think of how hard it is to stare at a screen for another day, then I think: well, a brother's gotta eat.

I have recently been working processing school papers, just as a casual job to make a bit of extra cash. It's a job of repetition, page after page, number after number, it can all get a little bit dull. But it's gotten me thinking about highs and lows. See, if I didn't do my job entering in the correct numbers, that would change a kid's marks for their end of school paper, which could dictate what they decide to do when they leave school, which could drastically change their entire life compared to if I do my boring job well.

It seems the highs – those moments that are full of excitement, energy, passion and fulfilment – that we experience in life are often affected by the lows – the monotonous, boring, repetitive and tedious moments – that we went through to get there. Maybe I would even go as far as to say it's the lows that enable the highs.

So often we write off those boring tasks, we see them as pointless and we put so much less effort into them because we can't directly see their return. But I'm starting to learn that God is a fan of the monotonous as well as the exciting. It's not just another day to Him; no, this is the day that the Lord has made (Psalm 118 verse 24) and He has a plan and a purpose for every moment of your existence (Jeremiah 29 verse 11).

So how does one stay motivated in the low? How do you consistently put energy and passion into the monotonous? I believe the answer is in the way God sees us: find its purpose.

Things are defined by their purpose. You can have a shaped ornament of metal, and if its purpose is for turning screws then it is a screw driver, but if it's purpose if for art then it is a sculpture. It is defined by its purpose. The trick to taking this concept and applying it to uninteresting activities is to broaden your perspective. Some activities benefits are not always visible and their return is not always immediate, but if you broaden your perspective you will see their greater rewards; thus their purpose to you will define them and make them important to you.

Practising scales as a singer can seem so pointless, repetitive and boring. But if you realise that practising scales will help you become a better singer, which will help you lead worship better, which could help somebody experience God's presence more vividly, then you will realise the purpose of all those hours of hard work and be more motivated to work even harder.

Your gifts aren't just about yourself; they're for serving God and leading people. So see the beauty in the mundane, find purpose behind the monotonous and then you'll be motivated to face every facet of your life. And you'll find the more energy you sow into the lows, the more you'll get back from the highs. For the creative types and musicians out there, let this help you get through the countless hours of honing your craft and refining your art so that we as Christians would be the very best artists, giving God all the glory with our effort. And when you've got to make some extra cash in a boring job to keep the dream alive, just remember, somebody's gotta put food on the table.

Daniel J. Mathew has completed a Bachelor of Music at Sydney's Wesley Institute and serves as a volunteer in Hillsong Church, City Campus.

Daniel Mathew's previous articles may be viewed at


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