Have you ever run into problems at your place of employment because of your faith? In today’s growing antichrist culture where everyone is expected to generally be ungodly, and to specifically be pro-homosexuality, pro-abortion, and pro-whatever-the-flesh-wants, it’s easy to run into problems.
But this email isn’t about persecution generated by genuine faith and godly behavior. It’s about persecution that comes our way because of something we’re doing wrong.
I’ve hired and fired a number of people. Surprisingly, two of the worst employees I’ve ever had, and had to fire, were Christians. Their problem was they used the autonomy of their positions to spend a bunch of time “working for the Lord.”
Working for the Lord…Or Stealing From Your Employer?
“Working for the Lord” included doing work for the church when they were supposed to be working for the employer who deposited money into their accounts twice a month. It also included using employer assets and equipment to do “God’s work.”
Some would call this stealing.
Sharing the Gospel At Work
“Working for the Lord” additionally included using strong, overt methods to evangelize. I received complaints from customers that they were being evangelized when they had shown up to receive information about our employer.
One customer told me how she entered the office and there was the employee praying over a customer who was on his knees.
(By the way, the guy on his knees later complained that he felt pressured to do this.)
You say, “Eric, what’s wrong with evangelizing?”
There’s nothing wrong with evangelizing. But there should be no conflict in “Go into all the world and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19) and “that no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter” (1 Thessalonians 4:6).
Worshipping God vs Cleaning the House
Think of this way.
You pay the cleaning lady to clean your home. When you return home, however, the cleaning woman is on her knees before the television watching worship videos on YouTube. Her hands are lifted and tears stream down her face.
There’s a problem, though. The house hasn’t been cleaned. Now, do you have a problem with this? I know you do. Why? It’s because you’re not paying her to worship the Lord.
Are We Suffering for Our Faith Or Because We’ve Violated Our Faith?
These examples may seem extreme, but it’s really easy to do a version of this when dealing with employers and others. We give our word that we’re going to do something and then don’t because we now “feel led by the Spirit” to do something else.
If we get into trouble for breaking our word, this isn’t persecution for our faith. It’s reaping the just reward for bad behavior.
If we get passed over for promotion or not considered for a good assignment because we come to work late and make up for it by leaving early, this is not persecution for our faith. It’s a penalty for violating it.
If people shun or bad-mouth us because we have an earned reputation of constantly telling people how bad they are, this isn’t persecution for our faith. It’s just people getting sick of having your finger in their face.
Should We Compromise To Keep A False Peace?
Am I saying we don’t speak truth? That we compromise to keep the peace?
Come on now. You know me better than that. Look at my YouTube videos, my articles, my books. I have no problem speaking truth. Let’s clarify what I’m saying by taking a quick look at my favorite prophet, Daniel.
We know of Daniel as a prophet. But did you know he was a government worker? That’s right. Daniel worked for the federal government—for around 70 years or so!
King Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah and hauled off a bunch of people and brought them back to Babylon. Daniel was one of those people.
How Do You Deal With An Evil Boss?
During Daniel’s long captivity, he worked in very high government positions for a series of kings. Nebuchadnezzar was the first. This is the one I want to talk to you about.
Nebuchadnezzar was an arrogant, prideful, and murderous tyrant. This man did not play. He’d kill you just as soon as look at you. This is the dude who made a big statue of himself and ordered everyone to bow to it or be burned alive in a furnace (Daniel 3).
The man was evil.
Daniel was so gifted by God in intelligence and character that he came to the attention of Nebuchadnezzar and was promoted to a position only a couple or few notches below himself.
Working for an evil dude when you’re separated by 20 layers of little bosses is one thing. But when the dictator is right down the hall from you, it’s a different level of danger.
Imagine being in direct contact with Hitler. You don’t know what that man is going to do next. He wakes up with a crook in his neck, you may lose yours if you make a simple mistake or say a careless word.
Daniel: The Art of Serving A Bad Boss
Here’s how a look at Daniel fits our topic of persecution at work.
Prior to Daniel’s first promotion, when He’d just arrived in Babylon as a captive, Nebuchadnezzar gave a command that Daniel and his friends (the three guys who would be thrown into the furnace) must eat food that violated the law of Moses.
The Bible says this of Daniel, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank..” (Daniel 1:8).
We could stop there and conclude that, “Okay, it’s on! Daniel’s going to do that prophet thing and put this heathen king on blast. ‘I’m not eating your funky food and drinking your rotgut wine!’”
Daniel could have done that. It would not have been morally wrong. He would have been morally right. He also would have died that day. Or received a great miracle of deliverance that day. We’ll never know.
My point is not that we should compromise to deflect persecution. Rather, it’s that sometimes we are too rash to start swinging.
Look at how Daniel, a man whom the Bible says, “purposed in his heart that he would not” obey the king, handled this life or death situation without compromising.
“…so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself” (Daniel 1:8).
Instead of immediately going into full combat mode, Daniel asked permission to be exempted from the king’s command. Daniel and the commander worked out a plan whereby they’d be exempted for ten days as a trial to see if it would have an adverse affect on their appearance.
If Daniel and his friends looked bad after ten days, then Daniel told the guy to do whatever he needed to do. Daniel didn’t come right out and say, “Then I’ll do what I have to do.” But we know from reading the book of Daniel, that’s exactly how it would’ve played out.
Ask God How To Deal With A Bad Boss
Now, did God see Daniel’s action as compromise? Let’s see:
“Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials” (Daniel 1:9).
God was not offended in the least. Matter of fact, He was all in this plan!
Here’s what I want you to see.
There are times when the situation is flat out black and white, righteous vs unrighteous. There’s no time or space to do anything except to take an immediate and resolute stand for obedience to the Lord. We do this even if we must suffer for our faith.
It’s not easy, but you have to take that stand, child of God.
Then there are times when ungodliness makes a claim on you. Yet, the situation allows you time to seek the Lord for the best course of action. It’s a given that you’re not going to compromise.
What you’re looking for is whether an immediate direct challenge is the best thing to do in this situation.
Some saints are so easily provoked and naturally combative that every little thing prompts a major battle from them. They suffer from a martyr’s complex. Everyone’s out to get them.
What they don’t know is their general unlikable nature and other character flaws act as a self-fulfilling prophecy that makes people not like them. This has little to do with their faith.
They don’t understand they are being thrown into the burning furnace or the lion’s den more for bad attitude, bad decisions, and bad behavior than for their godliness.
Don’t be that person.
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