[This is the Fifth Message in a series of 'Work and work-issues' Devotionals begun on Oct.6]
Matthew 20:25-26a- “But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you…” (NKJV)
In a two episode arc of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, Edward Gellico temporarily replaced Jean-Luc Picard as Captain of the Starship Enterprise. Gellico’s style of leadership was blunt and dictatorial. His commands were accompanied by remarks such as: “I don’t want to hear about it. Just get it done.” First Officer William Riker had to deal with an avalanche of complaints from the crew about Gellico’s tyrannical tendencies. Riker eventually locked horns with Gellico---and was relieved of command. Shortly after that, however, Gellico needed Riker to fly a dangerous shuttle craft mission. He visited Riker’s quarters to make the request. Such is the backdrop for one of the classic dialogues of the small screen:
Gellico- “Let’s drop ranks for a moment. I don’t like you. I think you’re insubordinate, arrogant, willful; and I don’t think you’re a particularly good First Officer. But, you are the best shuttlecraft pilot on this ship."
Riker- “As long as the ranks are dropped…I don’t like you, either. You are arrogant. And closed-minded! You need to control everything and everyone. You don’t provide an atmosphere of trust, and you don’t inspire these men to go out of their way for you. You’ve got everyone wound up so tight, there’s no joy in anything. I don’t think you’re a particularly good Captain.”
Riker went on to fly a successful mission, Picard resumed Command of the Enterprise, but not before Riker had voiced his conviction that Edward Gellico was a particularly bad boss.
Perhaps, you’ve known a few particularly bad bosses. They refuse to listen to what their subordinates try to tell them. They are control-freaks who lord it over their employees. They dogmatically and very often communicate: “It’s my way or the highway. If you don’t like this job, I’ll find someone who does.”
Jesus told His disciples: “It shall not be so among you.”
Granted, Jesus was talking to His disciples about doing ministry. Yet, ministry entails work, and the principles of a Christian work ethic also apply to a secular work environment. If Christian workers are to be dependable and productive laborers, then Christian bosses are to be Christ-honoring in their leadership.
How is this fleshed out in a work environment?
For one thing, Christian bosses are to refrain from evaluating their subordinates as commodities to be exploited or easily replaced. People are human beings, not assets or raw material.
True: Jesus challenged His disciples, and occasionally He rebuked them. But He never once referred to His followers as 'human resources'.
Additionally, Jesus cited the Second Greatest Commandment "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt.22:39). At the Corporate level, Christian Managers are aware that their subordinates are also their neighbors rather than faceless nonentities or just numbers in a database.
A particularly Christian boss may be forced to reprimand or even fire some employees—but won’t do this with an attitude of sadistic joy or from a disposition that grinds people down.
Particularly Christian bosses resist the temptation to abuse or devalue their employees. They loathe the sleazy intimidation tactics, strident yelling and public ridicule which are so prevalent in this broken world. Their leadership style is characterized by fairness and compassion because they realize that ‘a Christian bully’ is a contradiction in terms.
Furthermore, particularly Christian bosses recognize their own need for Divine grace: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom.3:23). They therefore pray for God’s guidance and grace upon them in their decision-making and leadership.
And: They take to heart Scriptural references such as these:
Prov.18:13- "He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him."
Eph.6:9- “Masters…give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.”
Matt.7:12- "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets." (NAS)