Should I Obey My Boss Even if He Wants Me to do Something Wrong?

 

 employee

 QUESTION: “Should I obey my boss even if he wants me to do something wrong?”

“What if my boss wants me to do something wrong on the job?  Should I refuse or should I go along with his request —because it is part of my job?”

ANSWER

There are two parts to this matter.  First, the Christian is to be a responsible and trustworthy worker in his place of employment.  Scripture says that he is to work honestly, with a focus on Jesus, and he is to serve the manager or boss with sincerity of heart.  When he serves in this way, He is actually serving Jesus and obeying God (Eph. 6:5-8; Col. 3:22-25).  Generally the Christian worker should be the model employee even when other workers are shirking their responsibilities or are dishonest in their activities.  The believer should give a full day’s work for a day’s wages.  Further, he is to obey or submit to the employer, even when the boss is “unreasonable” or “perverse” (1 Peter 2:18-20).

The second matter that needs to be said is that there is a qualification to these Biblical commands.  First, the Christian knows that his first and primary loyalty is to Jesus Christ and not to his boss.  God has the priority at all times.  Second, wherever he happens to be—including his time on the job—he is a servant of God and must never be disloyal to Jesus Christ.  Third, if there is ever a conflict between what the supervisor, owner, manager, or boss wants and what the Lord Jesus requires, the Christian must always choose to obey the Lord.  Remember the decisive words of Peter: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29; cf. 4:19-20).  This means that when the job requires one course of action and the Christian way of life requires another, we must always choose the way that pleases God.  On the job, we must always “do what is right” and be willing to suffer for any consequence.

Not everyone sees this as we have explained it.  Some professing Christians would say that we must obey the human manager whatever they require and that God is glorified even when the Christian sins in obedience to the manager.  This is definitely false.  We must never, never, never sin!  A child must not sin to obey a sinful father.  A wife must not sin in submission to a sinful husband.  A citizen must not sin to obey a sinful government official.  Likewise, an employee must not sin in order to obey a sinful supervisor.

The applications are legion.  If a manager requires a worker to lie, the Christian must refuse (John 8:44; 1 Tim. 1:10) for all liars will be sent to the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8).  If a position requires one to join a labor union, the Christian must refuse (Matt. 5:38ff; 20:13-15).  If a company policy states that the worker must wear immodest, or improper, or worldly clothes, the Christian must refuse (1 Tim. 2:9-10).  If a boss wants the workers to work when the Christian seeks to meet with the saints, the believer should refuse (Heb. 10:24-25).

In all things, the Christian is first of all subject to God and His will—and only secondarily subject to any human authority.

Richard Hollerman

 

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