If I were to ask who your boss is, what would you say? You might say, “I report to the CEO (or the owner of the company).” Another might say, “I am the CEO, I don’t have a boss.” Still others might say, “I report to my board of directors,” or “My customers are my bosses.”
From a functional or practical viewpoint, those answers seem valid. However, I would submit if you are a Christian business executive or manager, your REAL boss is Jesus Christ. The Bible says He owns your business and has appointed you to be a leader in the business where you serve.
In the Bible we read, “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14-16). This establishes what our priority should be.
Understanding who your true boss is can be critical to the decisions you make at work. Sometimes your human boss might ask you to do something that is in obvious conflict with your heavenly Boss. When that happens, who are you going to obey? You are appointed by God, but working under the temporal (earthly) authority of your human boss.
So what will you tell your boss at work if he asks you to do something you know is unethical, immoral, illegal or in conflict with the stated values of your company? The world is full of companies where even Christian business executives submit and do as they are told. When this happens, they are proving they fear man more than they fear God.
What about situations where you believe your company should make a specific decision? For example, in hiring a particular person? Have you stopped to pray about it, and then recommended the hiring decision to your temporal boss? If he or she says, “No, we don’t want to do that,” what do you do or say then?
I would recommend you go back to God, pray about the situation again, seek clear confirmation on what you think God is asking you to do, and then go back to your boss and say, “Joe (or Joanne), I know we have had this discussion previously, but I have thought this through thoroughly and also feel like God does want us to take this course of action.” What should you do if your boss or board of directors still insists, “No, we don’t want to do that”?
If the decision is not a “life or death” situation, you may choose to abide by your boss’s decision (submit to their authority as your temporal boss), even though you think it is wrong. In critical decisions, however, you may decide you can no longer work in a company that makes decisions based on wrong motives.
Many business issues do not have obvious answers, but the central question remains: Who is your REAL boss, and are you prepared to give up a big sale, a prestigious and well paying job if you cannot abide by your bosses’ final decision? Sometimes following God will require a large earthly sacrifice. So we must be certain: Are we more concerned about hearing the applause of man or the applause of God?
Lane A. Kramer is founder and president, The CEO Institute, a marketplace ministry based in Dallas,Texas, U.S.A. www.ceoinst.com.
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1. Have you experienced a recent situation where a decision your boss made clashed with what you knew was the right thing, or the God-honoring thing to do? Explain your answer.
2. Why do you think we often fail to challenge a human authority in the workplace when we know what they are demanding or insisting upon is the wrong thing to do?
3. Have you ever had a time when you believed God honored you for making the right decision, even when there was a short-term cost or consequence to you? If so, tell about the circumstances and how you responded.
4. What do you think it means, in an everyday, practical sense, to declare, “As for me and my household (or business, or company), we will serve the Lord”?
If you would like to look at or discuss other portions of the Bible that relate to this topic, consider the following brief sampling of passages:
1 Chronicles 29:11; Psalm 50:10; Luke 16:10-13; Colossians 3:17,23-24