Authority in the Workplace

On Mar 8, 2015, pastor John preached from Eph 6:5-9, Authority in the Workplace. Paul continues his thought from 5:21 about submission out of reverence for Christ. He now shows how that works itself out in the workplace, and affirms the value of ordinary work: to be “missional” doesn’t mean quitting your “ordinary” job to do something “radical” for Jesus. The work you do whether as a waiter, teacher, etc., is a valuable calling from God, and you’re to submit to your boss and do your work as to the Lord. And bosses serve the same Lord, and should treat workers well.  The main idea of text is that out of reverence for Christ we must submit to and rightly use authority in the workplace. 2 points:


1. Workers must submit to bosses authority. How?

           a. V. 5 “…obey:” Similar to v. 1. Obeying boss means follow the rules of the workplace, provided they are lawful, and don’t cause you to sin against God. Dig deeper: An application of 5th commandment (honor parents); includes honoring anyone in authority.


           b. We obey…as to Christ. Key phrase repeated 3X. We’re working for Christ:

                       1) “fear and trembling…” (Phil 2:12-13): humility/honor/respect for authority.


                       2) “sincerity of heart…” Don’t be a phony, be a person of integrity.  


                       3)  “not by way of eye-service as people pleasers.” Integrity is about who you are when no one is looking. Dig Deeper: One commentator says: “The best way to light the path for non-Christians is by working honestly…People will see Jesus in you through the influence of the day-to-day grind of life because your workplace habits speak volumes…”


           c. Paul sums it up in vv. 6-7: Our work is worship––act of praise/dedication to the Lord as a bondservant of Christ. Dig deeper: Read Phil 2:5-13: Jesus became a slave, obedient to death of cross. We are slaves of Christ, bought by His blood. Jesus sends us into the world to live in submission to Him and reflect His character in our life through faith in Him (Gal 2:20).

                       1)  Calls attention to doctrine of vocation:  Prior to the 1500’s, the only people thought to have a calling that glorified God were those who worked in the church. But the Reformers viewed all of life as being lived before the face of God.


                       2) Your vocation/ “secular” job is a holy calling from God to bring Him glory. Dr. Michael Horton:  “Each Christian, whatever his or her calling, serves God…whether making shoes, practicing law…caring for children…is a ministry…on God’s behalf.”


                       3) God’s will is for us to do our work “from the heart”—not just because we have to, but because we want to out of love for Christ and to bring Him honor.


           d. Verse 8: “you will receive back from the Lord.” What you do everyday matters to God, and He will reward you: in this life (His peace and joy), and ultimate reward in heaven.


2. Bosses must rightly use their authority

           a. Verse 9 – “Do the same:” Be a boss as unto the Lord, as a bondservant of Christ. If you’re the boss, treat your workers well as you would want to be treated.


           b. “stop threatening” – Similar to 6:4. Here it’s abuse of authority relating to threats (original context: slaves easy to threaten). Our context similar: The employer nitpicks everything, and constantly threatens workers with termination.  Why they should stop this:


                       1) “knowing that he (God) who is both their master and yours is in heaven.” Worker and boss have the same Lord: both bought by Christ’s blood, both His sheep, both brothers in Christ. Dig deeper: 1) Changes how you relate to that person (totally undermines notion of slavery). 2) just as the worker, so too the boss will give an account to the Lord.


                       2) “no partiality with God.” The boss is no better than the worker in God’s eyes. Dig deeper: On judgment day, your position as boss will not matter.  And as the hymn says, “The ground is level at the foot of cross, anyone may come there, for there is no cost. Rich man or poor man, bonded or free, the ground was leveled that day at Calvary.”



           God has ordained the everyday life that we lead in our homes and in the workplace to be the primary places where we live out the Lordship of Christ. Ordinary doesn’t mean mediocre. It means that I do the radical thing of viewing my work as worship as a bondservant of Christ.  Whether we’re workers or bosses, may we repent of our not doing our work as to the Lord. And may we out of reverence for Christ—resting in His power through faith—serve Him well in the workplace so that He would be honored in all things.