Doing Justice to Employers

May 8, 2018

Work – Most employers would agree that good employees are difficult to find. They typically are referring to employees who work hard and effectively. Working hard, or the work ethic, has its genesis in the biblical ethic our forefathers brought to this country. Max Weber dubbed it the Protestant Ethic. The Apostle Paul espoused it when he wrote to the Colossians, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men” (Col. 3:23, emphasis added; also see Rom. 14:6-9; 1 Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:17). 

One of my earliest memories of work involves being encouraged by a fellow worker to follow him around so he could teach me how to look busy and generate the impression I was working hard while not really doing much. (I neither followed him nor practiced his deception.) But we do not have to go this far to cheat our employers out of our wages. Halfhearted work qualifies as theft; habitual tardiness and early departures are no better than stealing; taking advantage of sick-leave policies to go hunting or to just rest when one is not “up to par” are dishonest behaviors; and wasting time talking with others (two or more people are now taken from their work) is a violation of the Eighth Commandment regarding stealing. This point even applies to evangelizing on the job during business hours when both persons should be doing what they were employed to do. Doing justice means we will give a full day’s work for a full day’s pay. 

Stewarding resources – Employees have many opportunities to practice responsible stewardship over the assets entrusted to them – from the selection of hotel accommodations and food on a business trip to the careful preparation of a capital budget that will eventually compete with similar requests for a com­pany’s limited resources. Another everyday example is the perception that there is nothing wrong with taking business supplies home for personal use. However, it is absolutely unethical to use business materials at home without explicit permission. We must be faithful in small things before Christ will trust us with larger responsibilities (see Matt. 25:2 1). The possible illustrations are many, but if we are aware that we have such stewardship responsibilities, it is not too hard to figure out what is just and right with regard to the use of business property. 

Obeying policies – A general biblical principle regarding submission tells us we are to take seriously our obligation to do what those in authority over us ask of us, so long as the request does not contradict God’s expressed will (see Eph. 5:21; 6:5-9; Col. 3:22; 1 Tim. 6:1-2; 1 Pet. 2:13-17). An owner or a manager has the responsibility to determine which policies will help the business reach its goals most effectively. Persons placed in positions of responsibility may, there­fore, establish policies regarding everything from outlining dress codes (for reasons of safety or the projection of a business image) to prohibiting employees from accepting invitations to sporting events as guests of suppliers and cus­tomers. (Christ gave directions to us for combing our hair and washing our face to guard what may be communicated when we fast [see Matt. 6:16-18].) 

Loyalty – Biblically, loyalty and faithfulness are closely related. So long as we choose to work for people in an organization, we are obligated to respect and protect their good name and to avoid all conduct that might undermine their or the business’s reputation in the marketplace. Bad-mouthing an employer – whether off duty or on duty – is unrighteous conduct. Or accepting employment with an organization that has a quality training program, with the intention of leaving after garnering the benefits of the training, is deceitful and disloyal. Being careless with proprietary information in the marketplace or intentionally using it to secure employment with a competitor is also absolutely unethical. Doing justice to employers covers these and many more concerns. 

Written by Richard C. Chewning. Excerpted from Biblical Principles and Business: The Practice (NavPress, Colorado Springs)    Used by permission. Content distributed by > Used for non-profit teaching purposes only.