The Little Work Book: Chapter 5

How to Work for Somebody

So far, I have talked about some of the benefits of working, some truths about getting work, God as our provider, and how to get a job if you do not have one. This next point is critical in moving forward successfully, and although it is a simple instruction, it can be the most difficult to consistently accomplish.

Colossians 3:22-24 (ERV)

22 Servants, obey your masters in everything. Obey all the time, even when they can’t see you. Don’t just pretend to work hard so that they will treat you well. No, you must serve your masters honestly because you respect the Lord. 23 In all the work you are given, do the best you can. Work as though you are working for the Lord, not any earthly master. 24 Remember that you will receive your reward from the Lord, who will give you what he promised his people. Yes, you are serving Christ. He is your real Master.

The two big ideas I want to emphasize from these verses is to obey your boss and to have a good attitude about it. Both can be challenging sometimes. Sometimes our boss is wrong. Sometimes we are smarter than our boss. Sometimes the boss is not kind, or patient, or good. My recommendation in such cases is to treat them with respect and obey them anyway (so long as they aren’t telling you to break the law). By doing so, over time, you will win your boss over, or some other positive opportunity will arise from someone else who sees your good work ethic, or you will become motivated to look for a better job.

When you begin a new job there will be a testing period. Your boss will be looking to see if you can do the work, if you can handle new challenges, if you can meet their expectations, if you can be a team player, and if you can follow instructions. Also, consider this: depending on where you find a job, there is a possibility your boss will not be the person who hired you. Someone else in another department or Human Resources might choose you and then dump you on your boss’s plate. You could be starting off on the wrong foot just by being there. Perhaps your new boss doesn’t like the person who hired you and doesn’t trust their judgment. Perhaps your new boss asked for a certain person they wanted, but you were hired instead. There are many unforeseen circumstances that could be going on behind the scenes that could put you in a tough spot with your boss in the beginning. However, no matter how difficult the situation starts, if you will commit to obeying your new boss with a good attitude and keeping your mouth shut, your good work ethic will speak for itself and more than likely you will gain favor with them and perhaps in time even gain a friend.

When I was in my early twenties, I got a job selling cars at a dealership. I was terrible. In fact, I was the worst salesman they’d ever had. I know this because the head of the dealership kept telling me so. The only thing standing between me and unemployment was my immediate supervisor. He would do almost anything to keep me around. One day I overheard him talking to his boss about firing me.

“Please don’t make me fire Gary. I know he’s a lousy salesman, but he is so dependable. He’s always on time, he does whatever I tell him to do, and he has a great attitude about it. He’s just young and inexperienced. Let me handle this.”

Think about this for a moment. You are hired to do a particular task. You can’t seem to learn how to do the task. Every time you attempt to accomplish the task you fail. This goes on for months. Everyone around you is wondering why you are still around. Your co-workers are wondering, the higher-ups of the company are wondering, people who have been at the company for years are wondering. There is pressure on every level for you to be fired, yet the one person standing between you and the street is your immediate boss, and he won’t budge. He is loyal to you. How does this happen?

You should know that my boss and I were not friends. He rarely said a kind word to me. Whenever he wanted me to do something, he would yell at me and make sure that everyone within yelling distance could hear him. But I never talked back or complained or even got angry. I just looked at it as: I need a job. This is my job. He is my boss. I need to obey. I need to be thankful and have a good attitude. Too bad for me he has an anger and volume problem.

Some of you might be wondering how to keep a good attitude when your boss is not treating you with respect. The answer is right there in Colossians. Work as if you are working for the Lord. (and not for some flawed human being). You can live in two worlds. One is what others around us see, the other is the world between each of us and the Lord. In the one other people see, we are to obey our bosses and have a good attitude about it. In the one between us and the Lord, we can process the situation with Him, even get our complaining out. “Lord, what can I learn through this?” “Lord, I need your help to handle this right.” “Lord, if you have something better for me, I sure would appreciate it.”

Another point to consider as you go into work each day is the perspective of your boss. What if you were in charge? Would you want you as a worker? Would you look forward to going to work to see you, your work ethic, and your attitude? Or would you dread you?

In the coming chapters we will discuss how to advance in your work, how to be a good boss when you become one, and how to run your own business. If you will continue to follow the simple lessons in this book, those outcomes are not only possible but likely. Success is difficult to stop when the right principles are applied.