From fast food restaurants to factories and offices, I have worked in various workplaces over the past 25 years. I know that no matter where you work, you will experience both advantages and disadvantages, both good and bad situations, and interact with both kind and unkind people.
The Bible covers topics from all areas of daily life, including the work environment. During Bible days, slavery was common, and many of the scriptures address slaves and masters. However, the principles of these scriptures can be addressed equally today to employees and managers. God has a plan for everything, and if we follow His plan, life will be easier and more pleasant for us. Therefore, if we follow God’s plan for the workplace, we can enjoy our jobs more. Following God’s wisdom and commandments can also show us how to deal with difficult situations and difficult people in the workplace.
1. What does the Bible say about working?
- Being able to work is a gift from God. Listen to what the wise Solomon says:
“Here is what I have seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage. As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor-this is the gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 5:18-19)
- We are commanded to work to provide for our families and to help the poor.
“For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10)
“Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.” (Ephesians 4:28)
2. Bible verses for employees
- Obey those in charge, whether it be your team leader, supervisor, or manager.
“Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.” (Colossians 3:22-25)
The above verse shows that we are to obey those in charge because by doing so, we are obeying God. We may work for our emoployer to receive a paycheck, but we work for God to receive a far better and lasting reward. We are not to work only when the boss is looking (“eyeservice”). Nor are we to work hard to impress others (“menpleasers”). We are to always be good workers because it is our duty and it pleases God.
Sometimes, we may not want to obey the boss. Sometimes, we may not agree with what he or she is telling us to do. Sometimes, we may feel that the boss is unfair, but the Bible says we should obey them anyway because God is the one who is ultimately in charge. By obeying our boss, we obey God. And, if our boss is being wrong and unfair, we can pray and trust God to take care of the matter, because He is charge of our boss.
- Respect those in charge
“Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.” (1 Peter 2:18)
“Let as many bondservants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed.” (I Timothy 6:1)
By showing respect to those in charge, we honor God. Others around us can see that we are Christians in deed and not just word only. In so doing, we bring honor to God.
- Good Biblical examples
A couple examples of good employees, or servants, in the Bible are Jacob and Joseph. Jacob worked for his Uncle Laban. While Jacob did not always agree with his Uncle Laban’s decisions, he still obeyed him nevertheless. As a result, God blessed Jacob that all his flocks prospered better than Laban’s flocks. (Genesis, chapters 29-30)
Joseph was a humble and obedient slave to his master. Even when Joseph was lied against and wrongfully imprisoned, Joseph still remained humble and respectful. As a result, God saw to it that he was released and promoted to second-in-command of all Egypt. (Genesis, chapters 39-41)
3. Bible verses for managers
- Treat your employees with the same respect with which they are commanded to treat you.
“And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.” (Ephesians 6:9)
There is no partiality with God. He does not love managers more than workers, nor workers than managers. They both are equal to God, and God commands that both parties respect one another. Just because a manager may have authority over a worker gives him no right to speak rudely or threateningly to a worker. Employers and managers must always remember that they have God to answer to, and that God is their ultimate boss. It is God that blessed you with your position, and He can also take it away if you do not use it properly.
“Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.” (Colossians 4:1)
- Don’t exploit your workers
“You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether one of your brethren or one of the aliens who is in your land within your gates. Each day you shall give him his wages, and not let the sun go down on it, for he is poor and has set his heart on it; lest he cry out against you to the Lord, and it be sin to you.” (Deuteronomy 24:14-15)
“Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness and his chambers by injustice, who uses his neighbor’s service without wages and gives him nothing for his work.” (Jeremiah 22:13)
“Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.” (James 5:4)
- Follow the golden rule
The best single Bible verse for managers to follow is Matthew 7:12
“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
If managers endeavor to treat their employees the same way they want to be treated, it would go a long way toward developing good work relationships as well as a peaceful and productive work environment.
While the Bible teaches that employees should respect an unkind manager, how much easier it would be to work with a kind and fair manager? Managers and employers who follow after God’s commandments will be not only respected and honored by their employees but by God as well.
- Example of a good master in the Bible:
The compassionate centurion
“And a centurion’s servant, who was dear to him, was sick and ready to die. So when he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to Him, pleading with Him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they begged Him earnestly, saying that the one for whom He should do this was deserving.” (Luke 7:2-4)
4. Bible verses to make the workplace more pleasant and productive
Mind your own business. “For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.” (II Thessalonians 3:11-12)
Treat people fairly and be content with your wages. “Likewise the soldiers asked him (that is, John the Baptist), saying, ‘And what shall we do?’ So, he said to them, ‘Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.'” (Luke 3:14)
Set a good example by not complaining and arguing. “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and preverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” (Philippians 2:14-15)
Don’t gossip. “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.” (Titus 3:1-2)
Watch your language. “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29)
Go the extra mile. “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.” (Matthew 5:41)
When you go the extra mile for someone, they may or may not show appreciation for it, but God will see it and bless you for it.
Consider others with empathy. “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3) I have seen in my own work experience where people behaved badly because they were going through personal, heartbreaking circumstances. While it is true that they should not allow themselves to behave badly, we can help them and the workplace both by showing consideration and empathy for them, and offering to help in any way we can. What’s more, we should examine ourselves and remember that we have faults too, and we are not without sin.