Today, I’m continuing a series I started on Monday about work (since I’m back at work, looking forward to what will be my most challenging school year yet.)
I probably just opened a can of worms, didn’t I.
Yeah, at best, we have a tenuous relationship with the boss. They can be great. But the way most people talk, the world is run by Bill Lumberghs and Michael Scotts.
If I asked you about your boss, chances are I could listen all night about how your boss treats you. How the boss isn’t as competent as you, makes worse decisions than you would, and is overcompensated for the privilege of hassling you.
Your boss asks you to do too much, pays you too little and recognizes your talent next to never. Is that about right?
What I probably would not hear is how you treat your boss.
And how you treat your boss may make all the difference.
Let Him Punch You Twice
You and I know that Jesus told his followers something like this:
When someone asks you to walk one mile, go two miles with them.
“Yep,” you say, “Got it.”
And Jesus told people that when someone steals something from them, like a shirt, to go ahead and give that person your coat.
“Yeah, I know that too. Check.”
And Jesus even said that when someone hits you in the face, to just go ahead and let them hit you in the face a second time.
“Okey dokey, Jesus,” you say.
But how many of us are treating our bosses the way Jesus described? Your thieving, incompetent, pig-headed, micromanaging, over-demanding bosses? The person who makes each day worse than the one prior? The person who is slowly draining your life force and turning you into a mind-numbed robot?
“No way,” you say, “My boss is a jackass.”
Jesus Doesn’t Need Your Shirt
When we read Jesus’ words, we can easily imagine that if Jesus asked us to go a mile, or he needed a shirt to wear, or even if he wanted to punch us, we’d let him, (and go the extra mile, give him our coat, and let him punch us twice.) After all, he’s Jesus.
The problem is, Jesus isn’t asking for those things from us. Jesus doesn’t need your shirt.
Your boss doesn’t need your shirt either. But that’s the point. The hypothetical person Jesus is talking about doesn’t need your shirt either.
Jesus is talking about being confronted by people who make unreasonable demands of us, people who don’t have our best interests in mind. People who we don’t even want to go one mile for.
Jesus might even be talking about the person you work for, or next to. That’s a lot more difficult.
It’s easy to complain about the boss. They are just easy targets. I’ve been in a lot of workplaces, both Christian and secular. When it comes to bosses, unfortunately, they are largely the same. Bosses come with targets on their backs.
It’s easy to be merely compliant with the boss.
It’s easy to be passive aggressive, or to spread water cooler complaining.
It’s easy to do your work half-heartedly, as some kind of defiant revenge on your boss.
But when you and I signed our contracts, we did so willingly. No one is forcing us to work where we are. We choose it. Maybe circumstances have prevailed to bring you to a workplace we don’t really want to be. Maybe you’re working at McDonald’s because you got fired from your six-figure paying job. I don’t care. McDonald’s is not forcing you to work, (and they aren’t forcing the rest of us to eat.)
And as long as we are working willingly, we don’t have the right to be passive-aggressive, or to do our work half-heartedly, or undermine the company and it’s mission.
When the boss makes unreasonable demands, Jesus says that the only right we have is to do twice what is asked of us.
Dream jobs never have in the description “complaining about the boss’ incompetence.” Dream jobs are made by being more competent, by giving twice as much as is required.
Tell me about your boss. Love them? Hate them? The catch is, you have also tell us how you’re treating your boss!