From “Growing in the character of a disciple”: Chapter 6 – A closer look at the various types of people with whom we must be faithful
Having practiced in employment law for many years, I find it remarkable how many employees resent, despise, or even hate their employer. It seems to be the norm. This is frequently true even amongst Christians. Perhaps this malaise is more widespread in Britain, than elsewhere? However, the reality is that your employer has done you a great favour, simply in giving you a job at all. Presumably, that job is good enough to accept and remain in, otherwise you wouldn’t still be there?
Why not start to view your job and your employer differently? Make a decision that from now on you will be appreciative and work diligently, even when nobody is looking. In fact, work hard especially when nobody is looking. The rarest thing for any employer to find in a member of staff is faithfulness. That has always been my experience. Even King Solomon thought so:
Many a man proclaims his own loyalty;Proverbs 20:6 (RSV)
but a faithful man who can find?
Like the cold of snow in the time of harvestProverbs 25:13 (RSV)
is a faithful messenger to those who send him,
he refreshes the spirit of his masters.
Trust in a faithless man in time of troubleProverbs 25:19 (RSV)
is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips.
Apostle Paul gives clear instructions on how a servant should relate to their master. They must be faithful, trustworthy and loyal. The same applies to us today in our dealings with employers:
9Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.Titus 2:9-10 (NASB)
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for any honest work,Titus 3:1 (RSV)
5 Slaves, be obedient to those who are your earthly masters, with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as to Christ; 6 not in the way of eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good any one does, he will receive the same again from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.Ephesians 6:5-8 (RSV)
Resolve to become the most faithful member of staff at your workplace. It won’t be very hard because few, if any, other staff will be competing with you for that title. If you do, your bosses will certainly notice. You’ll be promoted sooner or later, either there or somewhere else. If for some reason your current bosses refuse to reward you, God will probably move you to another boss who will. More importantly, Jesus will be so pleased that He will reward you for it Himself, even if your own boss doesn’t.
Whatever job you do, and whoever you work for, you are a “steward”. That is a person who has been entrusted with responsibilities to look after certain people, property, money or tasks. A steward has a “duty of care”. He will be held accountable by his employer for the way in which he discharged his responsibilities.
The same applies even if you do not currently have a job. You will have been entrusted by God with specific tasks or duties and He too will hold you accountable and gauge the extent of your trustworthiness, just like any other employer would do:
Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.1 Corinthians 4:2 (ESV)
Please also remember that your duty to be faithful to your employer is not conditional upon him also being faithful to you. It is great if you do happen to have a good and faithful boss, but whether he is or not has no bearing on your duty to be faithful to him. So, you are not merely to be faithful in response, or as your part of a two-way arrangement. Just be faithful to your boss all the time, regardless of how he treats you.
The reason you must be faithful is simply because God wants you to behave in that way, not necessarily because your boss deserves it. The same is true of every other relationship. You are required to be faithful no matter what other people do. They will answer to God for what they do and you will answer to God for what you do. Therefore don’t confuse matters by imagining that there has to be a mutual faithfulness as a pre-condition to you being under any obligation to be faithful yourself. That is not the case.
I emphasise that point because a lot of people wrongly imagine that wrongful behaviour on our own part is justified if the other person has previously treated us wrongly. It isn’t. So, if your boss was to fail to pay you fairly, or on time, or if he was rude or disrespectful, that would not justify you in doing the same back to him by being rude in return, or by short-changing him with your time or effort. Neither could you steal from him because he has stolen from you. Apostle Peter addresses this point in his first letter:
18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to the kind and gentle but also to the overbearing. 19 For one is approved if, mindful of God, he endures pain while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it, if when you do wrong and are beaten for it you take it patiently? But if when you do right and suffer for it you take it patiently, you have God’s approval. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted to him who judges justly.1 Peter 2:18-23 (RSV)
You could, of course, openly question your boss, or even confront him, about his behaviour towards you. But nothing that he does would ever justify you in behaving discourteously, improperly, dishonestly or disloyally towards him. In short, you must be faithful, even if you are the only person who ever operates that way in your workplace.