Dealing with Issues in the Workplace

Conflict arises in just about every imaginable social situation, but the workplace can be a particular challenge. On top of being our livelihood, our work represents a major part of our identity. Conflict with a colleague or a boss can have major consequences.

In Matthew 18:15-19, Jesus outlines how we should deal with those with whom we have conflict. We should first approach the person one-on-one. If we are unable to resolve the issue at that point, we may need some help. Many workplaces have a human resources department, with staff trained to help resolve interpersonal problems. If the problem persists, it may be necessary to appeal to higher leadership. Of course, many times we are in the wrong and just need to own it. It’s never a good witness when we assume a posture of self-righteous superiority.

The real difficulty comes when a work policy or practice clashes with our faith. Whether it is required work on the Sabbath or engaging in activities that feel unethical, we have a responsibility to speak up. Jesus asked, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?” (Luke 9:25). Our work is vital, but losing who we are and sacrificing our moral compass to earn a paycheck is never worth it. Sometimes we need to be willing to graciously walk away, and trust in God for another opportunity.

Throughout the Bible, we read of people whose faith is tested (see, for instance, Dan. 3). We should expect the same from time to time. However, extreme cases where it’s necessary to walk away are rare. Most people, if we calmly explain our perspective, are willing to work with us.

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