Servants, be subject to your masters with fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.——1 Peter 2:18
By Peter Karavas
“My employer is not fair nor understanding.” “He doesn’t pay me what I’m worth.” “I’m tired of office politics.” “My boss expects too much overtime.” “I’m stuck in a rut.” Ever had any of these thoug hts? Just what should be our consecrated attitude toward our boss and work? Can we wholeheartedly serve a boss who doesn’t appreciate us? How far can we allow our boss to push the limits of our honesty? Where do we draw the line between our time a nd energy commitments towards work versus towards our consecration and family?
I Try To Love You Boss, But It’s Not Easy.
What does God teach should be our attitude towards our boss? We suggest that many of the scriptures referring to master and servant relationships can and do apply.
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free—Ephesians 6 :5-8, NIV
“Obey my boss just as I would Christ?! Not just to win his favor but from my heart?”
In many cases this is not an easy task to accomplish. “Can the Lord really want me to take this approach with a boss who is unfair? “
Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.—1 Peter 2:18
“So am I trapped forever working for a horrible boss?”
Not necessarily. As long as you choose to stay at your job remain faithful to your harsh boss. Nobody is forcing you to stay though. You can look for another job with a better boss elsewhere. Some people will continue in their jobs for years work ing for an unfair and abusive boss. If this is you, you might ask yourself, “Why do I allow myself to be abused by my boss daily and why do I keep going back for more?” Often the motivations for staying are fear and insecurity. The fear of facing another boss and the insecurity of not succeeding at a new job. These fears are generally ungrounded. As we will later see, hard work, diligence and good skills will bring success at our job.
“But I’ve prayed about it, and God hasn’t showed me a clear sign to leave. Maybe it’s his will that I stay.”
God will not always give us a clear sign as to what we should do. For example, let’s take our children. As they mature, we give less guidance to every detail of their lives and trust them with more responsibilities. God does the same with us. As we mature in the consecrated way, he trusts that we’ll more accurately apply Biblical principles to our circumstances. Having signs which point in the direction we should go would make decision making much easier. But studying the scriptures to learn God’s principles is a more difficult, yet a more reliable way of learning God’s will.
Another approach to a harsh boss is to kindly but firmly confront him in the spirit of Matthew 18 to discuss our work performance and his reaction. This meeting may help us decide whether it’s worth staying longer or help us to see that the situation is hopeless and it’s time to take courage and move on to a new job.
I Am Always Honest.
Is it naive to think that in today’s work environment I can be totally honest?
What do I do when the boss says, “If anyone calls, tell them I’m out of the office today.” when I know full well he’s really in all day?
Should I say no when the boss tells me to “adjust the numbers so that the proforma shows a 12% rate of return.” when I know the project will really only yield a 5% return at best? The scriptures are straightforward in their testimony on t his topic.
Speak the truth, each one of you with his neighbor.—Ephesians 4:25 NASV
Do not lie to one another.—Colossians 3:9 NASV
Truthful lips will be established forever, But a lying tongue is only for a moment.—Prov. 12:19 NASV One might challenge, “Wasn’t David justified in deceiving Ahimelech the High Priest while fleeing for his life from Saul, or when he feigned madness to save his life from Achish, king of Gath” (1 Sam. 21)?
David wrote two psalms, one each in response to these two experiences. In Psa. 52, David expresses his anguish over his deception which resulted in the death of Ahimilech the High Priest. David says: Your tongue devises destruction, Like a sharp razor, O worker of deceit. Behold the man who would not make God his refuge, But trusted in the abundance of his riches, And was strong in his evil desire (Psa. 52:2, 7).
In Psa. 34, David repents from his deception of King Achish, which was based on fear, not trusting in the Lord’s protection. I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit (V. 4, 13).
If David acknowledged the error of deceit even though in danger of death, can we practice a lower standard when all that is at risk is our jobs.
Letting our boss know our feelings up front will discourage him from attempting to compromise our high moral standards. T his may cause some short term discomfort, but in the long run most bosses will respect and trust us more for it.
“I think people see `target’ written on my forehead.” “Other employees work against me for their own advantage and to make me look bad in the eyes of the boss.”
Honestly defending ourself to the boss against false accusations may at times be both wise and appropriate. Paul defended himself to the Roman Centurion (Acts 22:25) and to Govern or Felix (Acts 24) from the Jews who were accusing him.
Whether we may chose to respond or not, we do well not to be filled with deep worry and anxious care, remembering that all is in the Lords hands. None can harm us without His permission.
For I have heard the slander of many, Terror is on every side; While they took counsel together against me, They schemed to take away my life. But as for me, I trust in Thee, O Lord, I say, `Thou art my God.’ My times are in Thy hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me.—Psalm 31:13-15 NASV
Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy; No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure.—Psalm 1 01:5 NASV
This poor man cried and the Lord heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them.—Psalm 34:6, 7 NASVIt’s not unusual that the L ord’s people would be spoken against, especially out of fear and jealousy. In our efforts to give our employer the very best we can, as unto the Lord, other employees may view us as competition and consequently as a threat to their own advancement w ithin the company. But we are not to retaliate.
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. . .Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says t he Lord. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.—Romans. 12:17, 19-21
And keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame—1 Peter 3:16
Those who speak evil of us falsely will eventually be found out and suffer the consequences of their actions.
A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who tells lies will perish.—Proverbs 19:9
As long as we continue to work honestly and hard, most bosses will usually sooner or later see through the deceit of others and put their trust in a faithful worker.
Good Attitude? High Integrity? No Problem!… Well?
“When I work hard I feel like I’m just spinning my wheels. My boss won’t reward me. It won’t get me anywhere.”
Bosses may not always provide much feed back on our performance but often they see much more than they let on to. Hard work, good skills and attitude are vital factors in how the boss sizes us up. Don’t believe it if you think they don’t notice when employees take an extra long lunch break or spend business time socializing. Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.—Proverbs 10:4 NIV
Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.—Proverbs 1 2:24 NIV
Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men.—Proverbs 22:29 NIV
Stealing anything from our employer—from pencils to time—brings shame, rather than a witness, to the name of Christ.
Teach slaves to be subject to their masters. . . . not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.—Titus 2:9, 10 NIV
It is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.—1 Corinthians 4:2NASV
As ambassadors for Christ we must exercise the utmost integrity and the highest practice of Christian principles at work. Can we pass the test of Daniel?
Then the commissioners and satraps began trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to government affairs; but they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him.—Daniel 6:4 NASV
Looking at employment from the employees point of view is interesting. But what about the employers point of view?
“Who can blame me for getting so angry at such a bad employee?”
No matter how bad an employee we may feel we have, we are not to temporarily put aside the Christian graces when dealing with him. Do not threaten them (your servant) (Eph. 6:9 NIV). You shall not rule over him (your servant) with severity (Lev. 25:43 NASV). You shall not oppress a hired servant (Deut. 24:14 NASV)
Compensation should be fair and prompt. We shouldn’t make our employees feel like we’re doing them a favor by giving them a paycheck. They have worked hard for their wages, and if we don’t think so perhaps we should consider replacing an employee. But before we do, let’s ask ourselves, “Am I accurately assessing the scope of my employee’s responsibilities, his skills and the effort he’s putting forth? Does it reflect badly on my performance as a manager? For the same wages could I acquire another employee who would be much better?”
The laborer is worthy of his wages.—1 Timothy 5:18
The wages of a hired man are not to remain with you all night until morning.—Leviticus 19:9
Now to the one who works, his wage is not reckoned as a favor, but as what is due.—Romans 4:4
Encouragement can go a long way with an employee. He needs to know that we’re interested in him, that we’ve noticed and appreciated his successes and that we’re not unreasonable or unfair in our approach to his failures.
An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.—Proverbs 12:25 NIV
The craftsman encourages the goldsmith, and he who smooths with the hammer spurs on him who strikes with the anvil. He says, “It is good.”—Isaiah 41:7 NIV
A wise employer will not surround himself with lazy employees. They will be the death of his business. Lazy employees tend to be very unproductive and to make unreasonable excuses for not getting the work done quickly and correctly.
The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside; I shall be slain in the streets!”—Proverbs 22:13
I passed by the field of the sluggard, And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense; And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles, Its surface was covered with nettles, And its stone wall was broken down. —Proverbs 25:30
Christian principals aren’t like a light switch that turn on and off depending on where we are and who we’re with. The high moral standards of our consecration are to be applied across the board, not just at the ecclesia, but at home, among friends, among strangers , and at work. Applying these standards will relieve work related stress and anxiety, because by practicing them we are placing our faith and trust in God. In his hands, and under his protection, we know we have nothing to fear.