Most employees are among the most narcissistic people on the face of the earth. I can count with my fingers the number of employees I’ve met that are joyful and grateful for their employers and the companies and organizations they work for. When I listen to employers, business leaders, and small business owners, the constant gripe they have is with employees who are unresponsive and unproductive.
Initially, when an employee joins a company, she might radiate gracefulness and joy, but as time goes by, she gets captured by the company’s culture, her joy dissipates and she becomes angry and bitter. Not long after, her performance starts to dip and red flags are raised. She blames everyone but herself – it’s the tools, economy, spouse, kids, government, politicians, traffic, lack of exercise and the blame game goes on and on. She takes on the management team. Her friends think she is political. Her “frankness” makes her bosses overlook her for promotion and bonuses. Truth be told, she is not good at her job and eventually, she is fired or resigns. She looks for another employer hoping this time around things will be different. In her new job, the cycle continues. Different place, same old faces.
I always listen with anguish when I hear employees who identify as Christian bash their employers. A few years back, the employee was jobless, others in her situation would do anything to get some work, any work, but here she is.
So, if this person is a Christian, I always try to point them to the gospel of grace.
Here’s how I do it.
Abraham has an employee. Eliezer is his name. He worked for Abraham for many years. He is an old man. He knew Abraham and Sarah very well. He was there when Ishmael and Isaac were born. He was there when Hagar was given the boot by Sarah. He was there when Abram went to fight and rescue Lot, Abram’s problematic cousin. He has seen Abraham get successful – whether Abraham got successful though scamming Pharaoh and Abimelech or through God’s blessings. He was circumcised together with Abraham. He travelled with Abraham and his family everywhere. He has seen it all.
At this stage, Abraham is very old and successful. God has blessed him in all things.
Abraham gives him one last assignment. The assignment is simple, go to my father’s family and get my boy Isaac, a wife. He obliges. Abraham binds him to an oath. If he breaks the oath, he dies. The only way he is released from the oath Is if the woman comes back with him or if the woman refuses. He takes all sorts of choice gifts from Abraham and goes to Mesopotamia, to the city of Nahor. He arrives in the evening. His camels are tired and thirsty. He goes to a nearby well in the city and prays.
Listen to his prayer
Genesis 24:12-14 (NIV)
Then he prayed, “Lord, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’ —let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this, I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.”
The Hebrew word for successful is Qara, which means to stumble upon, to happen to meet. The word gives us a picture of success not as a byproduct of intricate methods and strategies but success as stumbling upon something. The Hebrew word for kindness is Chesed, which means God’s unconditional and unmerited grace.
This employee prayed that God would cause him to stumble by chance and happen to meet the girl and also asked for God’s unconditional and unmerited grace. He asked God to favour his plans on behalf of his master. He wanted God to make him successful so that he can be a blessing to his employer.
In Genesis 24, this employee repeats this prayer four times. And what did God do? God answered his prayers. God brought the lady to him. Eliezer didn’t need to go looking for her from house to house. She was there at the right place, at the right time. God made him stumble upon by accident on this lady. It wasn’t the slick marketing campaign that brought in the clients. Something just took off. We really don’t know how.
My goodness, an employee prayed that God would make him successful so that he could make his employer successful.
How many times have you heard Christian employees pray for their employers? In most prayer meetings I have attended, prayers are offered by the employee for their own success. Lord bless me, is the prayer offered by most employees. I am yet to meet employees who pray earnestly that they become successful for their company’s sake.
This is such an important gospel truth.
I have had good and bad employers in my life. While working for each one of them, God blessed me. Some years back, I worked for a church. Most mornings we would have some time of prayer. Whenever I was chosen to lead in prayer, I prayed for my employers and my fellow employees. I always made the same prayer much to the chagrin of some. I prayed that God would make us successful because in making us successful the ministry would be successful. I always prayed that God would bless the work of our hands. And for sure, time and time again God would answer those prayers. Somehow we would become efficient in what we did and the organization grew. I have witnessed this is in Jenny’s life. She has been blessed regardless of who her boss is. In our prayer times, I usually insist that we pray for her boss, her peers and employees. And God has answered our prayers.
Oh Schulter, you don’t know my employer. He is vicious, malicious and the most incompetent person I’ve met. He takes credit for everything. He is a slave driver. I am not praying for him. He owes me a salary at the end of the month and that’s it.
What if you have a bad employer?
The Bible has a solution.
Remember Jacob and Laban?
Laban, Jacob’s father in law, was a mean employer. He was so mean he changed Jacob’s salary ten times. Laban’s employees, following after their boss used to harass Jacob and his employees. Jacob didn’t retaliate and didn’t get cynical. Instead, Jacob devised an ingenious plan. He took some fresh branches from poplar, almond, and plane trees and peeled off strips of bark, making white streaks on them. Then he placed these peeled branches in the watering troughs where the flocks came to drink, for that was where they mated. And when they mated in front of the white-streaked branches, they gave birth to young that were streaked, speckled, and spotted. Jacob separated those lambs from Laban’s flock. And at mating time he turned the flock to face Laban’s animals that were streaked or black. This is how he built his own flock instead of increasing Laban’s. Whenever the stronger females were ready to mate, Jacob would place the peeled branches in the watering troughs in front of them. Then they would mate in front of the branches. But he didn’t do this with the weaker ones, so the weaker lambs belonged to Laban, and the stronger ones were Jacob’s. As a result, Jacob became very wealthy, with large flocks of sheep and goats, female and male servants, and many camels and donkeys. Genesis 30:37-43 NLT)
What Jacob did was he put the gospel of grace in front of his flock and they become fruitful. The gospel of grace? Yes. The gospel of grace. In the Bible, the colour white is for righteousness by faith. (Daniel 7:9, Matthew 17:2, Mark 9:3, Luke 9:29, Revelation 1:12 – 14, 6:11, 19:8, 20:11) The idea is here is this, as a Christian, if you want to be fruitful, you have to look at Jesus’ righteousness. Paul the apostle wrote to us and said this, so all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. (2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT) The Christian employee’s focus should not be on his own righteousness, performance whether good or bad but on Jesus’ righteousness, his perfect performance on his behalf. And as you behold Jesus and his righteousness, you are changed into his glory. And this glory involves you being fruitful at your work.
Laban said this to Jacob,
Genesis 30:27 (NLT)
“Please listen to me,” Laban replied. “I have become wealthy, for the Lord has blessed me because of you.
Remember Joseph? Read what happened to Potiphar because of Joseph
Genesis 39:5 (NLT)
From the day Joseph was put in charge of his master’s household and property, the Lord began to bless Potiphar’s household for Joseph’s sake. All his household affairs ran smoothly, and his crops and livestock flourished.
So yes, it is possible to succeed under any employer. Eliezer and Jacob show us how we can ask for God’s grace to help us succeed and in turn become a blessing to our employers. And in Jacob’s case, God blesses you with your own stuff. Here I sounded like the charismatic TV preacher you love to hate. (lol)
The simple reason why you should pray for your employer is that your success is your employer’s success.
Christian employee, you really owe your company your success. Yes, you do. Your family depends on your success at work. If you succeed, the company succeeds, your paycheck grows, and your family succeeds. A domino effect of sorts.
Pray that you become a success at work. Pray that God’s Chesed – God’s unconditional grace, works for you.
I thought you should know.
That’s what grace looks like.