Stress Caused By a Bad Boss: What Advice Does the Bible Give?

By Sam Voorhies and Roland Heersink

We want to give the best example we can as Christians in business – even when we’re faced with poor management or a difficult boss.

How are we, as leaders ourselves, to handle this? Let’s start with how the Bible says we should respond in such situations. Here’s a paraphrase of 1 Peter 2:18, tweaked with business language:

Respect your boss and follow through to do what they ask – not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are tough and cruel.

But what about those orders that might harm the organization in ways that management is clueless about, or just doesn’t care? Are we just to be blindly obedient and not say anything? Of course not.

Daniel in the Old Testament dealt with similar situations. First, here’s an example of Daniel dealing with an unworkable request from management on details of an assigned diet. Here’s a paraphrase of Daniel 1:11-13, 15.

Daniel came back to management with a request, “How about a 10-day test to see if our own diet is adequate? Then you can compare results with the others and then decide.” This was agreed and after ten days the test returned a favorable result.

Out of what seemed like a bad request, Daniel negotiated a win-win solution.

On another occasion, Daniel found himself on the firing line with all of the other consultants in the organization. Read Daniel 2:14-16 to see how he handles it.

Yes, respect and obedience are mandated even in the face of bad management decisions, but – like Daniel – we should not hesitate to ask for time or to propose an alternate plan if the situation warrants that.

One more passage from the Bible reminds us of how to work and who we really work for – paraphrased here especially for us today:

Respectfully obey requests from management, with an eye to honoring your real master, Jesus Christ. Don’t just do the minimum, but do your best, as Christ’s followers doing what God wants you to do. And keep a positive attitude, knowing that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God. (Ephesians 6:5-8)

Here’s some questions for reflection / application:

• Recall the last time you had a bad boss or faced a poor management decision. How did you respond? Did your action glorify God?

• Reflect on how you will respond the next time a bad edict comes down at your work. How can you use it to glorify God?

• How does being faithful to God reduce your stress when it comes to poor leadership?

And here’s some scripture to mediate on: 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3;17,23

Dr. Sam Voorhies, the Center’s Director, has been president and CEO of Voorhies International Consulting since 2010. He taught numerous courses at seminaries and universities around the world from 1990 to 2017.

Roland Heersink is the founder and chairman of God & Work, an organization dedicated to training Christians from all walks of life what it is to live out their faith in the secular workplace.



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