Follow Up to Getting to Work

Hi Friends,

It was great to be with you this past week and celebrate together the God who is worthy to be worshipped through how we work!  One of the points that Paul makes in Ephesians 6:5 is that those under authority need to be respectful to authority.  I received two  questions, both regarding this point.

Question #1  How should one balance one's justified disagreement and even disdain for an authority's leadership with the Bible's perspective to respect their authority?

First, I think it depends on what is meant by “justified disagreement”.  If the basis for your justification is that what your leadership is doing is breaking the laws of the land or breaking the laws of God, then the answer is black and white.  God’s word would urge you to resist that authority.  An example of this would be the Egyptian midwives who resisted Pharaoh’s command for them to kill the Israelite children when they were born.  (Exodus 1:17-20).  However, if by “justified” you mean that what your leaders are telling you is incorrect, but not morally wrong, then I think the answer becomes more nuanced.  I can’t really answer this broadly, because I think the specific variables of each situation would greatly change the advice given.  However, there are two universal principles from scripture that I believe apply.  First, you should not gossip.  Only the people who can actually do something about your disagreement should know about your disagreement.  Second, in keeping with the spirit of Matthew 18 I would encourage you to speak directly to your leader about your disagreement.

As far as disdain goes, again I would ask what is the source of your disdain?  If it is just their personality, get over it.  If it is because they are incompetent, how can you seek to make them a success?  But if your disdain is for their moral character, it is right to not look on sin with favor.  However, even then, you are still to be obedient to their authority.  When Paul (and Peter in 1 Peter 3) write about being obedient to authority, you have to remember that they are writing in the times of the evil Roman emperors.  If they can command that Christians be obedient to Nero, then I think few of us have bosses against whom we can “justifiably” rebel.

Now this should not be taken as advice to stay in a poor work environment.  By God’s good grace we live in a country where we have a wide variety of options for gainful employment.  If you are under leadership that you think is regularly mistaken and that you do not respect at all, you obviously have the option to pursue employment elsewhere.    

Question #2  Any advice/encouragement to someone tempted to have a bad attitude towards an incompetent/unqualified boss/management?

This question is slightly easier to answer, because it is more straightforward.  If your only concern with your boss is that they are incompetent, then the best thing that you can do is work as hard as you can to make them a success.  This comes from the principle that God gave to the Israelites when they were in exile.  They often found themselves under incompetent and unqualified leadership.  Yet, they are commanded to, “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare”. (Jer 29:7 ESV)  I think it is very easy to “sink to the lowest denominator”.  If your boss is incompetent that can easily be used as an excuse for you to be less competent.  However, we don’t work for our bosses, we work for God and the good of the world that He has made.  So work hard, work well and believe the promise “knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord” (Eph 6:8 ESV)

Grateful for you Christ Church!

Pastor Jeff

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