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DIFFICULT BOSSES: Responding with Integrity

When dealing with unjust authority, responding with integrity can be a real struggle.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
Philippians 4:8, NASB

Difficult bosses—the truth is, we probably have all had one at some point. They can make daily life difficult, and at times, they can even challenge our integrity. So, what can we do?

We know that God calls us to act with integrity regardless of the behavior of our bosses.

However, it can be a real struggle.

Thankfully, we can find an encouraging example in Scripture...

In I Samuel 24, we learn that King Saul was pursuing David in an attempt to kill him because Saul was threatened by David’s power. Saul knew that the Lord’s favor was on David; plus, David was next in line to the throne. During a chance encounter in a cave, David had the opportunity to kill Saul but chose not to. Keep in mind, David knew that Saul was attempting to kill him. But instead of harming Saul, David cut off a corner of Saul’s garment to prove he had spared Saul’s life.

Despite his choice not to kill Saul, David was still guilt-stricken for cutting Saul’s garment (I Samuel 24:5). David realized how close he had come to compromising his integrity. Even though David desired to take Saul’s life, he remembered that God had put Saul in a position of authority over him. It would have been easy for David to kill Saul—after all, David would become the anointed king at the death of Saul. However, David chose to give Saul respect instead of what he deserved—death.

Now, we may not want to kill our bosses, and our bosses may not want to kill us...but, most of us can relate to David’s struggle with integrity when dealing with unjust authority.

Feelings of distaste, anger, distrust, and exasperation—no matter how big or small—allow bitterness to enter and possibly take root in our hearts, even to the point that our bosses, and our negative emotions, can travel home with us, occupying our thoughts every night, consuming our weekends, and even ruining our vacations. The conflict with our bosses can become a heavy burden that we carry with us everywhere we go.

But, we don’t have to carry this burden. Our bosses do not control our actions. We can control our responses! Even if our bosses are using us for their current target practice sessions, we can still respond with integrity. And who knows, our virtuous responses could point our bosses (and maybe even our co-workers) to our Savior, leading to transformation and restoration.

LaRae G. Munk is a licensed attorney specializing in education and employment law with more than 30 years experience.

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