We’ve talked about how to be a good employee, which includes serving your employer well. But what if you are the employer? What if you are the boss, or supervisor, or manager, with workers under your authority? How do you handle your role the way God’s Word and wisdom would encourage you to?
For starters, all of the instructions about how to be a godly worker still apply to you. But, in addition to those verses, the Bible also has quite a bit to say about how you should lead your employees and run your business. More is asked of you because you have more power and responsibility—or, as Luke 12:48 puts it, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”
Here are five ways you can be a godly employer:
1. Treat Employees Fairly.
All people, including both employers and employees, are created by God in His image and given dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:26-27). We all have equal value in His eyes and are all worthy of respect (Colossians 3:11). Treat your employees the way you would want to be treated (Matthew 7:12), and do not show partiality (Ephesians 6:9).
- “If I have rejected the cause of my manservant or my maidservant, when they brought a complaint against me, what then shall I do when God rises up? When he makes inquiry, what shall I answer him? Did not he who made me in the womb make him? And did not one fashion us in the womb?” (Job 31:13-15)
- “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
- “Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.” (Colossians 4:1)
2. Pay Employees Fairly.
Respecting employees and treating them fairly also means paying them fairly. When someone works for you, they earn their wages; their salary is not a gift you give them, but rather a debt you owe them (Romans 4:4). Paying them fairly includes paying them on time (Leviticus 19:13). Oppressing someone by denying them a fair wage or not paying them on time is a sin (Deuteronomy 24:14-15).
- “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” (Proverbs 3:27)
- “Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice, who makes his neighbor serve him for nothing and does not give him his wages.” (Jeremiah 22:13)
- “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 3:5)
- “For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,’ and, ‘The laborer deserves his wages.’” (1 Timothy 5:18)
3. Treat Customers and Suppliers Fairly.
Besides being responsible for how you treat your employees, you are also responsible for how you (and the people you manage) treat those you do business with. The Bible has many warnings about using false measurements (Deuteronomy 25:13-16), which, when buying or selling commodities, is a way to defraud people by not fully delivering or paying what was promised. You should be honest and fair in all your dealings (Leviticus 19:11). Integrity is the best long-term business plan (Proverbs 10:9).
- “You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measures of length or weight or quantity. You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:35-36)
- “And if you make a sale to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor, you shall not wrong one another.” (Leviticus 25:14)
- “It is well with the man who deals generously and lends; who conducts his affairs with justice.” (Psalm 112:5)
- “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.” (Proverbs 10:9)
- “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight.” (Proverbs 11:1)
- “Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.” (Proverbs 16:8)
- “Unequal weights are an abomination to the Lord, and false scales are not good.” (Proverbs 20:23)
- “The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.” (Proverbs 21:6)
4. Do Not Seek to Get Rich at the Expense of Others.
So what drives some employers to underpay their workers, overcharge their customers, or use deceptive marketing to make a sale? The love of money is the root cause of all those things (1 Timothy 6:10). If you value money over people, you will use people to get money. And if your goal is to get rich, you eventually won’t like what you are going to get (James 5:1-5). Instead of filling up storehouses (or bank accounts) here on earth (Luke 12:16-21), trust that God will provide what you really need (Matthew 6:31-33) and lay up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-20).
- “Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.” (Proverbs 22:16)
- “Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.” (Proverbs 28:6)
- “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10)
- “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)
5. Be a Servant.
If you want to be a godly leader, you should focus on being a servant to all (Mark 10:42-45). That is the example that Jesus set for us and told us to emulate (John 13:12-17). Serve your employees, serve your customers, and humbly consider other’s interests ahead of your own (Philippians 2:3-8).
- “But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” (Matthew 20:25-28)
- “And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, ‘If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.’” (Mark 9:35)
- “And he said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.’” (Luke 22:25-26)
Put these principles into practice, and you’ll be the kind of boss that people want to work for and have an organization that people want to do business with. But don’t do it because you think it will help you be “successful” by the world’s standards. Do it to be faithful, to honor God, and to point others to Him (Matthew 5:16).