Bosses, Good and Bad

Small Group Study / Produced by TOW Project

This lesson was piloted in April 2017 by Southern California Teen Challenge, in a program for women rehabilitating from drug addiction, prison, and prostitution. To see all lessons, go to the Women'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?

Hagar had a bad boss. Ruth had a good one. Most everyone who works has a boss. The Bible tells us how to deal with bosses, both good ones and bad ones.

One difficult lesson from scripture is that you have to respect your boss and work for him or her 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).

God told Hagar to go back to working for her bad boss, after she had run away. In return, God promised to reward her.

The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave-girl of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am running away from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her.” The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will so greatly multiply your offspring that they cannot be counted for multitude.”
(Genesis 16:7-10)

Hagar didn’t know everything that God was doing through her bad boss. Even though she disliked her work situation, she went back to work. She felt comforted to know that God saw her and had a plan for her (Genesis 16:13).

Discussion Question: Do you relate to Hagar in any way? What do you think of her story?

Ruth had a good boss, whose name was Boaz. He made sure Ruth got what she needed, and he protected her from sexual harassment. Ruth showed her gratitude by speaking to him humbly and by working extra hard.

“I have ordered the young men not to bother you. If you get thirsty, go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn.” Then she fell prostrate, with her face to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your sight, that you should take notice of me, when I am a foreigner?... May I continue to find favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, even though I am not one of your servants.”
(Ruth 2:9-10, 13)

Discussion Question: What does Ruth’s story tell you about working for a good boss? How are you similar to Ruth? How are you different from her?