"Tree Fall" features college-focused stories, tips and inspiration for living Christian values in our broken world.
“He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.” 1 Corinthians 3:8
One day, late in the semester, I was on my last homework assignment. Statistics. I had just completed problem 142. I flipped through the book to see how many were left. There were 76 more. 76! That was it – I reached my breaking point. I slammed the book shut, crumpled my paper and stood up fast enough to knock my chair over.
The pointlessness of what I was doing had gotten the best of me. I moved well beyond not caring to being actively angry about what I had to do to get a good grade.
The rest of the evening, I slammed doors, I kicked puppies (not really, but what an image, right?), I punched my fist through a wall (again, not really, but it’s more impressive than saying I pushed the buttons on the TV remote really hard). I was too angry to continue the struggle. A homework assignment with 218 questions for credit – not even a grade! – was a torturous exercise.
I was too upset to complete the assignment. Since it wasn’t graded, I earned an incomplete. The incomplete had a ripple effect, ultimately lowering my GPA for the entire class. My feelings about the “pointlessness” of the assignment suddenly didn’t matter.
Can you relate? We’re given responsibilities and then make our own judgement on how beneficial the end result will be. If it’s work for obvious personal gain, then sure, we’ll work hard. If we get paid well to do it, we’ll prioritize it. If it seems meaningless, it suddenly falls to the bottom of the pile.
We aren’t always equipped to understand the value of our work.
If we let our personal opinions drive the effort we put into tasks we’re assigned, we’ll always miss the mark. We’re also sending a message to those around us: we’re lazy, only looking for an equal and opposite reward for our work.
Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians that we each receive wages according to our labor. We understand that, but we often ignore the companion advice from Luke, who in chapter 12, verse 48, said, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” In common language, Uncle Ben said the same thing in Spider-man. With much power comes great responsibility.
God gave us each a piece of His kingdom, an invitation to share in responsibility. We’ve never been promised an easy life, and it’s never been a guarantee that we would toil for obvious gain. We usually expect money. We work hard to make more money. We shy away from homework and dread chores because they don’t bring money. But let me tell you, those so-called pointless assignments don’t stop when you walk off that stage with your diploma. Pointless assignments will follow you for the rest of your life.
With that bummer cloud hanging over your head, what’s your response? We must work for a higher reward. It’s not about making more money or striving for an easier life, it’s about learning what we’ve been entrusted with and doing it to the best of our ability.
It doesn’t make completing a 218-question assignment easier, but it does put it in a more optimistic perspective. And maybe then you won’t punch the wall. Or hit the buttons on your remote too hard.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!
- What homework assignment did you find the most pointless?
- What motivates you to continue in the face of exhaustion?
- What can you do today to start embracing the responsibilities put before you?
- 1 Corinthians 3:8
- Luke 12:47-48
- Romans 7:14-20