Dealing with Bosses

Small Group Study / Produced by TOW Project

This lesson was piloted in April 2017 by Southern California Teen Challenge, in a program for men rehabilitating from drug addiction and prison. To see all lessons, go to the Men's Prison Curriculum Table of Contents.

Discussion question: What kind of bosses did you have in the past? How did you feel about them? How did you relate to them?

Most everyone who works has a boss. But very few people know that dealing with bosses is a skill. Even fewer people know that you can get better at it by studying the Bible.

One difficult lesson from scripture is that you have to respect your boss and work for him diligently, whether or not he or she is a good boss.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women, knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free.
(Ephesians 6:5-8)

This verse encourages slaves to obey their masters and do good work, as if they were serving God and not people. The work of slaves was probably hard and uninteresting. But St. Paul tells them to do it with focus and enthusiasm.

Working diligently and happily for your boss, whether he or she is good or bad, helps you in the end. The verse from Ephesians says that if you work as if you’re serving God, you “will receive the same again from the Lord.” In other words, there are rewards for working well. Even if your boss doesn’t plan on rewarding you, there will be a reward from God for your good work.

What’s more, God has placed certain people in power for a reason, even if we don’t know the reason. You should not retaliate against a bad boss because “it is God who executes judgement, putting down one and lifting up another” (Psalm 75:7). David, for example, respected Saul as King over him, even when Saul acted dishonorably. Saul was out to get David, but David refused to take revenge, saying, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to raise my hand against him; for he is the Lord’s anointed” (1 Samuel 24:6).

If you have a boss that makes work difficult, you should still act in a way that brings balance to your workplace, not instability. That means respecting people in power, even if they’re bad bosses.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all goodness and dignity.
(1 Timothy 2:1-2)

Discussion Question: Why does this Bible passage say to give thanks for everybody in power? What is the result of praying for your boss?

Discussion Question: The result of getting along with a boss is a peaceful life, with goodness and dignity. What does a peaceful life look like?