I have a long history of working in food service. I started saving money for college by working two jobs in high school. Right after the last bell, I’d drive thirty minutes to an engineering firm where I’d draw lighting and HVAC schematics until five, and then I’d hop over to the nearby Subway to work the closing shift.
By the time I hit college, I swore I’d never work in food service again. Less than a month into my freshman year, I found myself getting up at four in the morning to get several gallons of coffee brewing for a faculty meeting, pulling out table settings for a lunch the college President was hosting, and folding napkins.
Lots of folding napkins.
I spent all four years of college working as a caterer with the campus food service staff. The moment I graduated, I swore another oath never to work in food service again. Then I got married, moved to Texas, and started looking for a job to pay the way through seminary.
I only found one—in food service.
Looking back, I realize now why I disliked the food industry so much—I never felt like I accomplished anything. Any event, no matter how beautifully arranged, would always end up in shambles. Guests demolished the food, and all I had to show for my work was a pile of dirty dishes.
Whether we like it or not, life is monotonous. We do the same thing day after day, and it often feels like we have nothing to show for it. The laundry keeps piling up. The traffic on the road is always backed up. The coffee pot always burns the brew. The spacebar on the keyboard at work always sticks.
Life plods along the same as it always has. Often we end up wondering if there’s any value to what we do.
But what if monotony itself has value? What if faithfully doing the same thing day after day means something? What if the important thing isn’t escaping from monotony, but infusing value into it?
What if, just by living your life, you’re accomplishing something extraordinary?
Humanity’s original purpose was to be the living, breathing, physical representation of the invisible God. Just by existing, the human race brought honor to their creator. And by flourishing in the everyday course of life, humanity carried on the work that God began in the seven days of creation.
But the first humans broke our race. In rebelling against God—in pursuing the empty promise of independent “significance” — we corrupted what it means to be human. We chased a significance that once had been ours by very nature, and now we despise the monotony of living.
When you feel the pressure of monotony, you’re really feeling the tension of what it means to be human. We were created with purpose, but sin made the monotony of life a curse rather than a joy.
That’s where the gospel has so much power. Through Jesus, God redeems the human race. Those who follow Jesus and submit—yes, submit—to his direction will find that everything that they do has value.
To be a Jesus follower means simply existing has value. You walk and talk as the living, breathing, physical representation of the invisible God. That’s where your significance lies—not in the doing of something extraordinary, but in the being someone extraordinary because Jesus has redeemed you.
Sink your fingernails into the truth of what it means to be a redeemed human. In the monotony of life, you can truly thrive.
photo by Thomas Leuthard