Did you know that when we go to work we have a chance to honor God? The way that we perform our job and interact with our employer says much about our relationship with God.
Does God REALLY expect us to obey our boss?
We are commanded by God to be obedient to those who have authority over our labor. In Ephesians 6:5-8 we find these words:
Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.
So, not only are we to be obedient, but we are also commanded to work as if we are working for Christ! There are a few things that stand out in the passage about our obedience to our employers:
It does not depend on the character of our boss!
We are told to be obedient to our masters (i.e. the one who has authority over our labor), “as to Christ”. And just in case that wasn’t clear enough, he then adds, “but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart”.
Nothing is told here about the character of the master (in regards to your requirement to obey), or the worthiness of the labor; all we are told is that we are really serving God, not our employer.
We are told in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God“. Honestly, reading that should be enough for us to go to work tomorrow with new attitudes! Anything that we do in life, we should do it with the intended result of glorifying God!
And if that wasn’t enough, we are also told to, “…render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free“.
As with the home and government, our obedience is not dependent on the personality, or even the godliness of the one being obeyed. Translation…even if we think our boss isn’t fit to lead, or is unwise, we still must obey!
The only time when we are excused in (actually expected to) disobeying our boss is if they direct us to go against God’s word! Take the example from Peter and John:
But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.‘ ~ Acts 4:19-20
As long as you are not ordered to violate God’s clear commands, you are expected to obey your employer as if you are working for God! After all, it’s for His glory!
It protects the integrity of God’s name:
We have just seen the internal reason why we are to be obedient to those in authority over us, particularly our employer – to glorify God! We can come home from work every day knowing that we just pleased God with our efforts.
Now we come to the external reason why we are to be obedient – to protect God’s name. In 1 Timothy 6:1 it reads:
All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against.
Our obedience to God’s command in this area is a great way to protect His name. What exactly does that mean? Well, let’s look at it another way:
If we are disobedient workers and our boss/coworkers know that we are Christians, we do much to destroy the name of Christ! The verse states it perfectly (but doesn’t God’s word always do that?), “so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against”.
This is the same reason why 1 Timothy 3 states that someone who wants to be a pastor must be “above reproach” and “must have a good reputation with those outside the church”! Your ungodly actions and behavior at work will cause Christianity, God, the Church, and all other Christians to be seen in a negative light!
How can we do this?
If our goal is to honor God in the workplace, then here are a few practical things that we can all do to accomplish this.
Be honest – Even if it means that we face trouble, we have to be honest. If you forgot to do something and it becomes a big deal, be honest about it. As a child of God, lying is never the correct course of action! Even if you are asked/ordered to lie, don’t!
Act with integrity – Not only must we be honest at all times, but we must have standards as well. Expect the best from people and deliver the best as well. Don’t just halfway do an assignment because you don’t think anyone is looking or cares. Have integrity in all that you do – even down to the smallest detail.
Don’t take the easy way out, don’t be deceptive, and have high ethical standards!
Be on time – As Christians we should be people who honor our word. If we agree to be somewhere at a certain time, then that is what we need to do. Whether it be starting the work day, agreeing to go to a meeting, or even the amount of time we are to take on breaks, we must be on time!
Leave extra early and anticipate traffic and other delays. Do whatever is necessary to show others that you honor their time, and your word!
Be respectful even when we disagree – Being obedient doesn’t mean that we will like or agree with everything that is decided upon. If we are given an opportunity to discuss flaws in a plan, or to offer up a better solution, we should be honorable and respectful, even if we know we are right!
This will go a long way in showing people true Christian character. Plus, if we are ever wrong about something, we would want someone to point it out in a graceful manner – so have the same courtesy.
Don’t gossip – This is always a problem in an office setting. Spreading rumors and gossip around the office does nothing to honor God, and it will make others question your commitment to Christ – or question the faith altogether!
Work as hard as we can – This is sort of a combination of many of these. In whatever small job we have to do, we must take pride in it. Not pride in the pats on the back that we get, but pride in our God and His power to help us perform that very job!
Laziness should never be a trait of a Christian, and it will definitely cause people to speak ill of our faith and our God.
So, in understanding God’s will for those of us in the workplace, we must remember several things.
- First, our obedience to our employers does not depend on their intelligence or worth.
- Second, if we fail in this area, it will dishonor God’s name and the Christian faith.
- Third, the same practical behaviors that we try to develop in our walk with God, should follow us into the workplace!
- What are some things that you do to make sure you honor God at work?
- Have you ever done something that caused someone to question your faith (“aren’t you supposed to be a Christian?”)?
- Have you ever been asked to lie on the job?
- Do you find it hard to obey your boss?
I look forward to your answers in the comments section.
Khaleef writes about personal finance from a biblical perspective for KNS Financial’s “Faithful With A Few” blog. KNS Financial provides Personal Financial advice, Budgeting Assistance, Tax Preparation and Advice, Debt Management, and Economic Commentary, through personal consultations, writing, seminars, and workshops