We’ve all got a boss

by Aug 2, 2022Christian living, Proverbs, Wisdom, Work0 comments

“Do not slander a servant to his master, lest he curse you, and you be held guilty.” – Prov 30:10

This is one of those places where it feels like the Bible gets unnecessarily specific. Why not say: “Do not slander,” and leave it at that? Spreading false, harmful reports about anyone at any time would constitute as a bad move. But here, this proverb zeroes in on slandering a servant to his master. Why?

At stake here is the fragile relationship between employee and employer. In its broader scope, the concern is over the dynamics of authority structures between a subordinate and her boss. The lesson is: Stay clear. Or at least, have a very good reason and very detailed facts before you bring a bad report about someone else to their boss.

When we understand the principle in terms of dynamics of authority, it should be easy to sympathize. We are all under authority. Everyone has someone he or she is answerable to. That relationship is important. Org charts and hierarchical structures matter, and the interplay of those relationships are fragile, precious, and borderline sacred, even if we would prefer that they weren’t there, or we try to pretend we’ve transcended power dynamics.

God is the ultimate authority in this world, and there is even a hierarchy of subordination within the Trinity. That means that God has baked in the architecture of authority into all his creation. There is no such thing as a lawless land or flat equality. A power vacuum will always be filled. We need to begin by acknowledging that reality as a gift of God’s grace intended to build order and stability, which are prerequisites for flourishing.

The applications of this proverb are most readily apparent horizontally; from there we can reason out its spiritual force. For starters, we can all do a better job of respecting existing authority structures. This is one of the reasons why people with military experience tend to make great employees. They learn early on that you take complaints up the ladder, and you don’t try to skip rungs, or jump to another ladder. As I begin recognizing existing chains of authority, it may slowly dawn on me that other people have an authority they are accountable to, and usually that isn’t me. We need to respect chains of command, and operate with the humility of servant leadership when dealing with those under us.

The spiritual implications of this proverb peel back hypocritical pride. We may not slander someone to God, but our moral comparisons can amount to the same thing. We are all under one boss, God, and He doesn’t ask us for our input on anyone else’s report card. “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Rom 14:4) Just like Peter after Jesus’ resurrection, or Shasta meeting Aslan at the end of The Horse and His Boy, Jesus tells us: You don’t need to see or hear anyone else’s evaluation but your own.

It’s human nature, and exceedingly easy to weigh another person’s moral performance compared to ourselves. God wants us cry out to him about hurts and injustices we see and experience, but this proverb tells us to be careful within our own hearts about how we do this. We don’t get to eavesdrop on the one-on-one conference someone else has with God. We don’t get the whole story, and God, as the authority, is the one responsible. Our focus needs to be on our own faithful service.

Read More 

Wisdom Will Laugh at Your Expense

Wisdom Will Laugh at Your Expense

“I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you.” – [Personified Wisdom] Proverbs 1:26 Good guys aren’t supposed to be vindictive, right? When the hero has his enemy in his grasp, when personal vengeance is at his fingertips, what does he do?...

Powerful People Shouldn’t Drink

Powerful People Shouldn’t Drink

“It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.” – Proverbs 31:4-5 Does drinking or staying dry say anything about your...

You Know Less Than You Think

You Know Less Than You Think

“Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know!” – Proverbs 30:4 What is rain?...

Speak softly and carry a big stick

Speak softly and carry a big stick

“By mere words a servant is not disciplined, for though he understands, he will not respond.” – Proverbs 29:19 Teddy Roosevelt maneuvered the US military through more than a few tight squeezes during his presidency (1901-1909). He espoused this West African proverb as...

Leave a comment.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

DON'T MISS ANYTHING!

DON'T MISS ANYTHING!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest content.

You have successfully subscribed!