Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
In Part 1, I talked about boredom, and sometimes this a problem. What is it? Boredom is a combination of weariness, apathy and unconcern that causes a person to feel like doing nothing. Related words include dreariness, flatness, lethargy, and dullness.
To the bored person, the world is all shades of grey. When you are bored, there is nothing to do because there is nothing to do that matters. To the younger generation, one word encapsulates boredom, the all-purpose answer: whatever.
- “Did you hear what I said?”
- “I thought that was a great movie.”
The word ‘whatever’ in that sense means, I don’t even care enough to give you an answer.
There are two primary causes of boredom. The first is over-stimulation. We live in a society that encourages us to believe that more is better. If a little of anything is good, then more will always be better. If one drink is good, two is better, and five is better still, so it’s said. If one pill helps, two is a kicker, three is a party, and five will knock you out.
We see this in relationships as people jump from one person to another. We see it in the pressure to constantly move ‘up the ladder’, so people hop from one job to another, hoping to find the perfect fit. And we move from city to city, and from church to church. We make friends, keep them for a while, get to know them, and then we move on to someone else.
Advertisers prey on this tendency when they urge us to buy more, buy new, buy now. We are so bombarded with images, with lights and sound and noise that we’ve grown accustomed to it. Why is it that the TV must always be on in our homes? Why is it that we must have noise in the background or we feel uncomfortable?
Many of us belong to a TV-addicted generation. We don’t want to be bored. We are so over-stimulated by TV, radio, music, movies, the internet, and by video games, that we are hyped-up, tense, wound up tight, and as a result, easily bored and quickly distracted.
The second cause of boredom is under-commitment. Too many people live at the 20% level of commitment. We’re like the man who, when asked what he believed, replied, A little bit of everything. We are like customers in a cafeteria line: we have a ‘little of this’ and a ‘little of that’ and not much of anything.
We are 20% committed to our marriage, 20% committed to our work, 20% committed to our relationships, 20% committed to our families, 20% committed to our careers, 20% committed to our church, and we end up being 20% committed to Jesus Christ. No wonder we are frustrated. No wonder we are restless—and bored. We are not committed enough to anything to find a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
Underneath all this is I think a deeper problem. Boredom comes from an excessive self-focus. Bored people view the universe through their own perspective. The reason you could be bored is that you have become a boring person. To be truthful, you are bored with yourself. The problem is not ‘out there’ somewhere. Look inside if you want the answer.
The problem is not ‘out there’ somewhere. Look inside if you want the answer.
Interestingly enough, busy people are often very bored. They use their busyness to mask their inner emptiness. I would say that boredom is a disease of the soul. It is a warning sign from God that there is a ‘dis-ease’ in your heart that must be faced. It’s a sign that your life is moving in the wrong direction.
How can we overcome boredom? Let’s consider what the Bible says in the way we approach each day. We overcome boredom by doing whatever lies close at hand. In Ecclesiastes 9:10 we read, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”
Eugene Peterson’s translation (The Message) offers an even better version of this phrase: “Whatever turns up, grab it and do it.” I like that because it emphasises the unpredictable nature of life. No matter how well planned your day may be, something unexpected is always bound to ‘turn up’.