Last week we looked at 6 practical ways that employees could honor the Lord in the workplace. Now let’s turn our attention to the employer.
Actually, there are two main types (or roles) of employers that the bible gives specific instruction about.
The first would be the supervisor – the person who leads, gives instruction, and interacts with the workers; and the second would be the actual owner.
We will focus on the supervisor in this article.
The manager must foster an atmosphere of mutual respect:
Now we will take a look at the characteristics of a godly boss.
As the boss/manager/supervisor (I’ll use these terms interchangeably), you are in a position of authority in the workplace, and because of this you must resist the urge to rule with a heavy hand.
To fully understand what God expects from a supervisor, we need to revisit the command to workers found in Ephesians 6:5-8
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, the main point to take from this is that God expects workers to submit to the authority of their bosses as if to Christ!
Now let’s look at God’s command to managers from that same passage:
And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him. ~ Ephesians 6:9
After writing about the honor and respect that is due to the employer, Paul now directs the employer to “do the same things to [employees]“! There is to be mutual honor and respect in the employer/employee relationship.
The authority that the employer holds does not translate into abuse or oppression. In fact, they are specifically told to “give up threatening“!
A manager’s authority does not act outside of love:
Yes, I know that “love” is not the way that most people would describe how a typical boss leads, but that doesn’t take away from it’s significance.
Keep in mind that this passage is part of a larger section dealing with relationships in general – more specifically, relationships in which one party is in authority over the other. Husbands are told to “nourish and cherish” their wife, fathers are told not to “provoke [their] children to anger”, and employers are told to “give up threatening” when dealing with their workers.
In each one of these relationships, those in authority are to lead with love and respect for those under their care and supervision!
When people are in authority, they have a tendency to become brutish and unloving. However, for the Christian, these things must never define us. We are to behave with grace, honor, and integrity, even when bringing discipline or making an unpopular decision.
The fact that we are in a position of authority in that relationship does not make us any better or more worthy than those who are subjected to us.
Paul makes a great statement about the character of God in order to drive that point home…”there is no partiality with Him”! God will not honor or bless your abuse or disrespect of your employees.
How can I develop these characteristics?
There are a number of things that you can do to ensure that you are a godly boss. Here are a few:
Understand that you and your employees are equal in God’s eyes– This can be tough, especially since we humans love to elevate people above others. We equate power with authority and then teach that a brutish, antagonistic attitude is the best way to display that power.
The bible says that there is no partiality with [God]. Understand that though your responsibility is greater (in the workplace), your worth or standing before God is not.
Have respect for your employees – Honestly, a person should not have to earn your respect. They may have to earn your trust, but not your respect. As we said earlier, the bible doesn’t qualify our responsibilities in these relationships by the quality of the other party (i.e. a foolish boss gets the same respect as a wise boss).
So, do your best to respect your employees and to demonstrate that to them.
Realize that God is in control and you are His servant – Your motivation for developing into a godly boss needs to be because God commanded it! Remember that obedience to God is more important than anything else. Which is why obedience to human authority is stressed so much in the bible.
Set reasonable expectations – You cannot lead effectively if you are not able to assess what your team is able to do. Without communicating your expectations to your team, you run the risk of being disappointed by their failure, even when the task was impossible for them to complete.
For example, if you call a play for LeBron James to dunk on Shaquille O’Neal, then you have a good chance of being successful. However, pull James out of the game and replace him with me (I’m 5’6″), then you better change the play! Don’t come down hard on me because your expectations were unrealistic and you now have to face failure.
Keep the lines of communication open – I’ve heard of bosses who would yell and scream if you walked into their office without first having an appointment! The employees were not able to have discussions with their bosses, nor were they allowed to voice their concerns! This is definitely not behavior that would please our Lord.
Having an “open door policy” with your employees will not only cause them to feel at ease and feel respected, but also foster creativity! It’s a great feeling to have your boss take your criticisms, concerns, and ideas seriously.
Be consistent – If you are to lead with integrity, then you must stand for something, and stand for it all the time! Don’t discipline one employee differently than another for the same things. Also, don’t ask something of them that you aren’t willing to do. Being inconsistent is the quickest and surest way to lose the respect of your employees.
Never ask your employees to do wrong – If you want to honor God in your work, then don’t ask someone else to dishonor Him! That should be simple to understand, but managers will ask employees to act without integrity all the time.You must never put your employees in a position where they will have to violate God’s word (cf. Acts 4:19-20).
So, we see that in order to be a godly manager, you must do acknowledge several things:
- First, you must make it possible for there to be mutual respect between you and your employees
- Second, your leadership must be governed by grace and love
- Lastly, there are a myriad of practical things that you can do to demonstrate godliness as a manager
- Do you think that it’s possible to receive respect and obedience while still being graceful?
- Are there areas in which you can improve as a manager?
- Have you ever been in a position where you were asked to be dishonest?