Submission In The Workplace: The Key To Peace And Prosperity At Work

Submission of Christian workers to their bosses, and of Christian masters to Christ, is key to peace and prosperity in the workplace. With subordination to our various heads and recognition of the authority of those placed above us, even menial work becomes joyful service. On their own part, Christian bosses have a biblical responsibility to treat their subordinates humanely and kindly, and to make the work of those under them easier and more pleasant. It is easy to accept the authority of good bosses and to submit to them. What of wicked and evil masters? How are we to relate to them? We shall examine Scripture to answer this question, as well as explore the prescribed relationship between Christian employers/bosses and their employees/subordinates in the workplace.

Colossians 3:22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye-service, as men pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God;

Colossians 3:23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not to men;

Colossians 3:24 Knowing that of the Lord you shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for you serve the Lord Christ.

Colossians 3:25 But he that does wrong shall receive for the wrong which he has done: and there is no respect of persons (AKJV).

Servants are enjoined to obey their masters in all things, and to do their work as unto the Lord. Every Christian is to do his or her job as though they’re working for God directly. Whether you’re working as a cleaner, a janitor, a messenger, a clerk, or a nanny, see yourself as working directly for God! How would you do your job as a cleaner if you were directly employed by God? How would you do your job as a janitor if you were maintaining God’s apartment? I’m sure you’d do it with more commitment, more zeal and more dedication. Now, that’s exactly how God expects you to work for your boss! See yourself as working for God in that job, however tedious and menial the work is. See your work as a form of service or worship to God! Yes, worshipping God is not only when you pray or sing praises to God. Worshipping God is not only done in the church or in prayer houses. You also worship God at your place of work! You also serve God at your duty post in whatever work you do! Whenever you perform a lawful duty heartily, you are serving God!

It’s easy to appreciate a good boss and work happily for those who treat us kindly and appreciate our efforts. How about wicked and evil superiors? How about those who make our lives a living hell in the workplace? How are we to relate to them? How are we to work for them? The natural human instinct is to be mean to superiors that treat us badly, to try to sabotage them whenever we have the opportunity. The default mindset towards difficult bosses is to wish them evil, and pray for their downfall or removal. That’s only being human! We love the ones who love us and hate the ones who hate us! But, what does the Bible say? How does God expect us to relate with superiors that treat us badly in the workplace?

1 Peter 2:18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.

1 Peter 2:19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.

1 Peter 2:20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God (ESV).

Servants are to be subject not only to good and gentle masters, but also to the unjust. We are to be submissive to bosses who don’t treat us justly and are mean and unfair to us. It is a gracious thing when we endure unjust treatment for the sake of God. We are ambassadors of Christ even at our places of work. Even in our menial jobs, we’re to display the qualities of Christ for all to see. We’re to repay evil with good. We’re to bless those that curse us and pray for the good of those who use us despitefully and persecute us. We’re to overcome evil with good. That’s the example Christ set for us, and that’s what the Bible admonishes us to do.

1 Peter 2:21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

1 Peter 2:22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.

1 Peter 2:23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly (ESV).

Luke 6:27 But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,

Luke 6:28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you (ESV).

Romans 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Romans 12:19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.

Romans 12:20 To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.

Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (ESV).

As a worker, do not expect praise from your boss. The reward for your work is your wage/salary here, and God’s reward later, not praise from men. A boss or a superior has a right to talk you anyhow he wishes. Don’t let that get to you. Win such unappreciative masters with your godly behaviour, Christ-like dedication to duty and uncommon subordination and respect. Even the Lord warned servants not to expect praise for the work they’re being paid to do!

Luke 17:7 Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, Come at once and recline at table?

Luke 17:8 Will he not rather say to him, Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink?

Luke 17:9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded?

Luke 17:10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty (ESV).

Don’t use your employer’s time for personal work. Give your employer your total and unalloyed attention while at work. Your time at work is for your employer. You’re paid to work for your boss, not to do any other thing outside your job description. Do not use your time at work for praying, Bible study, evangelism or such other things. Give to your employer the full service he has paid you to offer. Work as conscientiously when your boss is not there as when he is there. Working hard when your employer is present, and idling away when he’s not there, is being hypocritical and displaying eye-service. God watches you at all times and is not pleased with hypocritical eye-service!

Ephesians 6:5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ,

Ephesians 6:6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,

Ephesians 6:7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man,

Ephesians 6:8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free (ESV).

Luke 20:25 He said to them, Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s (ESV).

You should obey and honour those above you at your place of work because it’s not only the right thing to do as required by the word of God and by your conscience as a Christian, it’s also to prevent the punishment that comes with disobedience and disregard for superior authority! There are laws governing superior-surbodinate relationship in the workplace. Violating those laws usually incur punishment. To avoid being humiliated and disgraced, be on the right side of the law. By allowing yourself to violate the law and be punished, you not only disgrace yourself, you also bring Christ’s name to disrepute, because you’re an ambassador of Christ! Your behaviour and actions at the work place have implications for your ambassadorial role as a Christian!

Romans 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

Romans 13:2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

Romans 13:3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,

Romans 13:4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

Romans 13:5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.

Romans 13:6 For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.

Romans 13:7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law (ESV).

1 Peter 2:16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

1 Peter 2:17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

1 Peter 2:18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.

1 Peter 2:19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.

1 Peter 2:20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.

1 Peter 2:21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

1 Peter 2:22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.

1 Peter 2:23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly (ESV).

Christians should always pray for the good and prosperity of their places of work. Your prosperity depends on the prosperity of the organisation you work for. If the organisation does well, your wages and allowances are likely to increase; if they don’t do well, you too are likely to suffer. If your workplace folds up, you will suffer unemployment for sometime, till you find another job. So, take care of your workplace as though it’s your own. When you manage other people’s business well, God will give you your own in due time.

Jeremiah 29:7 Work for the good of the city where I’ve taken you as captives, and pray to the LORD for that city. When it prospers, you will also prosper (GodsWord).

1 Corinthians 9:7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk? (ESV).

Luke 16:12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? (ESV).

On the other hand, Christian employers of labour and Christian bosses have a biblical responsibility to treat their workers well. They are not to maltreat those that work under them. Masters, treat your subordinates with dignity and fairness, and avoid threatening them. You too have a head, Christ, who will judge you according to the way you treat those under you!

Luke 12:42 And the Lord said, Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time?

Luke 12:43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.

Luke 12:44 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.

Luke 12:45 But if that servant says to himself, My master is delayed in coming, and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk,

Luke 12:46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful.

Luke 12:47 And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating.

Luke 12:48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more (ESV).

Ephesians 6:9 Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him (ESV).

Colossians 4:1 Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven (ESV).

When you treat your workers unkindly and cruelly, when you don’t care for their welfare and well-being, you’re sabotaging yourself and your work! A dissatisfied worker or subordinate can undermine your work and your organisation and sell you out to your competitors! A disgruntled servant can leak out vital secrets of your organisation that can lead to your downfall! Look at this example from Scripture and be properly guided in the way you treat your subordinates!

1 Samuel 30:11 They found an Egyptian in the open country and brought him to David. And they gave him bread and he ate. They gave him water to drink,

1 Samuel 30:12 and they gave him a piece of a cake of figs and two clusters of raisins. And when he had eaten, his spirit revived, for he had not eaten bread or drunk water for three days and three nights.

1 Samuel 30:13 And David said to him, To whom do you belong? And where are you from? He said, I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite, and my master left me behind because I fell sick three days ago.

1 Samuel 30:14 We had made a raid against the Negeb of the Cherethites and against that which belongs to Judah and against the Negeb of Caleb, and we burned Ziklag with fire.

1 Samuel 30:15 And David said to him, Will you take me down to this band? And he said, Swear to me by God that you will not kill me or deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will take you down to this band.

1 Samuel 30:16 And when he had taken him down, behold, they were spread abroad over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing, because of all the great spoil they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah.

1 Samuel 30:17 And David struck them down from twilight until the evening of the next day, and not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men, who mounted camels and fled.

1 Samuel 30:18 David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken, and David rescued his two wives.

1 Samuel 30:19 Nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken. David brought back all.

1 Samuel 30:20 David also captured all the flocks and herds, and the people drove the livestock before him, and said, This is David’s spoil (ESV).

If you treat your servants and subordinates well, you win their loyalty and make them subservient to you for the rest of their lives. If you take good care of your servants’ welfare, they too will take good care of your own interests. A servant who is loved and treated well by his master will go to any length to protect his master’s interests. His master’s wish will be his command, even if the venture entails great risk to his own life.

2 Samuel 23:14 David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then at Bethlehem.

2 Samuel 23:15 And David said longingly, Oh, that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!

2 Samuel 23:16 Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and carried and brought it to David. But he would not drink of it. He poured it out to the LORD

2 Samuel 23:17 and said, Far be it from me, O LORD, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went at the risk of their lives? Therefore he would not drink it. These things the three mighty men did (ESV).

Christian employers of labour should endeavour to pay their workers just and fair wages in a prompt and timely manner. God hates the defrauding of workers and the withholding of the wages of employees. Remember that your position of authority today is a privilege derived from God. Be a boss with a human heart. If you deliberately hold back the wages of those who have worked for you, when they cry out to God against you, God will hear and answer, and it won’t be for your good! If you unjustly use the wages of workers to build yourself up, you’re placing yourself under a curse! Your prosperity will not last, for God will visit you in his wrath, in due time!

Leviticus 19:13 You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning (ESV).

Jeremiah 22:13 Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice, who makes his neighbor serve him for nothing and does not give him his wages,

Jeremiah 22:14 who says, I will build myself a great house with spacious upper rooms, who cuts out windows for it, paneling it with cedar and painting it with vermilion (ESV).

Malachi 3:5 Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts (ESV).

James 5:4 Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts (ESV).

In conclusion, the relationship between employers and employees is based on subordination and responsible leadership: the employee respects and honours his boss and does his job with commitment and honesty, while the boss treats him fairly and justly and pays him his due wages promptly. When respectful subordination is coupled with humane leadership, there will be peace and prosperity in the workplace and God will be glorified.

Published by Dr. Ndubuisi E. Ojo

Dr. Ndubuisi E. Ojo is a teacher and an expositor of the word of God with an intense passion for doctrinal purity and the restoration of the Church to the original Apostolic faith.

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