Why Your Attitude At Work Matters

Cap TTJSIAs an employment law attorney, I counsel people every week who feel they have been treated unfairly by their employers.

Most of the time their complaints are justified, but the conduct about which they complain is not illegal.

That is when I take off my attorney hat, put on my counselor hat and give them advice that will help them work through the situation from a practical rather than a legal perspective.

Even then, I often get the feeling they want me to tell them they should retaliate against their boss or resign with righteous indignation, like the guy who staged his video with a marching band, then posted it on Youtube. While such acts make for good stories and stroke a retaliatory impulse, they are almost always off-limits for Christians because, for the Christian, there is something more important at stake than pride or teaching their boss a lesson.

Much of what the Bible says about how Christians should act in the workplace is directed to 1st century slaves and their masters. I think there are two reasons for this. First, slave labor was a significant part of the Roman economy. Slaves were even teachers, doctors and lawyers. Second, by addressing slaves rather than employees  the Bible makes it very difficult for Christians to exempt themselves from the advice.Your situation may be bad at work, but you probably don’t have it worse than a typical first century slave who was being mistreated by his master.

So, when the Apostle Paul wrote to Titus about how slaves in their church should respond to their masters, Christians today should take note not only as to what Paul told the slaves to do, but as to why he told them to do it:

Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.

Titus 2:9-10. I’m sure there many masters who didn’t deserved to be pleased, who demeaned their slaves and deserved to be back-talked, perhaps even stolen from, because of how they treated their slaves.

To read all this as an endorsement of slavery is to miss the point. Paul gives the reason for his instruction: “so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.” Paul was saying that protecting the brand was more important than workplace justice, that advancing the kingdom of God was more important than advancing the cause of fair treatment in the workplace.

This doesn’t mean that Christians shouldn’t sometimes complain about, report or even sue over workplace misconduct. It does, however, mean the advancement of the kingdom of God should take precedence over other motives in determining how Christians respond in the workplace. GS

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