When I worked as a teacher, I had a school principal whom I thoroughly despised. He spent most of his time locked in his office; a fortress far away from the rumble and tumble of the students who attended his school. I rarely saw him and had even fewer conversations with him. The only time he would speak to me was to offer criticism. He never said anything encouraging. He oversaw a school that was comprehensively failing both academically and with student behaviour. He took no responsibility for the culture he oversaw. His leadership offered no support to teachers trying their hardest to teach well. He was an agent of discouragement, an expert in excuses and a colossal failure as a leader. In case you hadn’t picked it up; I didn’t like him.
My boss quits!
So imagine my delight the day I heard he had resigned as principal! Out came the champagne and off went the party poppers but there was a downside to his resignation. On the principal’s last day, the last period of the day was devoted to a special all-school assembly so we could ‘thank’ and ‘farewell’ our great principal. An entire school of students, who he avoided during this tenure as principal, would now gather to thank a man who had been invisible to them. The staff too would have to listen to his final words of wisdom and clap politely irrespective of their true feelings. It was a telling sign of how much I loathed the man that during his farewell assembly I was mysteriously absent.
Have you ever had a bad boss? An agent of discouragement in your workplace? How should Christians respond to a bad boss?
We rest in God’s love, not our boss’ approval
It can be difficult when our boss doesn’t approve of the work we do or is impossible to please. Remember though that God loves you completely no matter what your boss thinks. If you get your sense of worth from people’s approval then your sense of worth will bounce up and down like a yo-yo. When we rest in God’s love and decide that his approval is what matters our sense of worth will remain steadfast and strong; your boss’ opinion will become nothing more than a minor matter.
We don’t fear our boss
Your boss could demote you, change your hours and responsibilities and perhaps even fire you. Christians recognise that God is our ultimate provider. Our provision doesn’t come from our work or from the government. God provides all we need to do his will in every season of our lives. Jesus said in Matthew chapter 6, verse 33, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” You don’t need to worry; your boss doesn’t determine your provision. God is your provider.
Our work is an act of worship
Paul writes in Colossians chapter 3, verse 23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Our work is part of our worship. Do you work by making things? That reflects the nature of our creative God who made the whole world. Is your work concerned with the provision for human needs such as the provision of food, clothing, housing and other needs? That’s a reflection of God who is our provider. Do you work by bringing comfort and healing, teaching and care to people, reflecting God’s compassionate nature? Do you work to ensure fairness and justice within society? Do you look after God’s creation? Do you work in research; studying God’s world and learning truth in order to benefit humanity? Do you work by serving and assisting other people reflecting our servant king? Almost every job can be an act of worship and a reflection of our great God. So do your God-given work with great enthusiasm, with great care, with great thought and great integrity reflecting our great God.
Jesus is our standard for behaviour
If your boss is always critical you might feel inclined to fight fire with fire and be critical in return. If your boss has a lazy work ethic you might feel entitled to knock off early as well. When you have a bad boss, it’s tempting to lower your standards to match theirs. It’s vital to remember that we don’t look to our boss for how we should behave at work; Jesus is our role model, he’s the example we strive after.
We show God’s love to our boss
Following Jesus’ example we too can love those who don’t love us. Our boss may be cranky but Christians are filled with God’s love and joy. Christians are witnesses to God’s love wherever they are including at work. Pray for your boss next time you travel to work and ask God how you can show God’s love to your boss.
You might not be able to change your boss or change your job but you can change your attitude as to how you respond to your boss. God with is you and he’s the best boss you’ll ever have.
Travis Barnes lives in central Victoria with his wife and two daughters. He is an associate minister with the Churches of Christ denomination. He can be contacted by emailing: email@example.com. You can find more of Travis’ articles at: