When I was in college, a new boss was hired to run the office where I worked. I did not get along with this new manager. I didn’t appreciate how he talked to me, and the way he wanted things done did not make sense to me. I would get very upset and have to leave the office to regain my composure. He was a horrible boss!
Upon self-reflection, I was a horrible employee. My pride prevented me from seeing his perspective. I was stuck in the “old way” of doing things. I let my emotions, particularly anger, control my actions.
Oh, did I mention the new boss was my brother?
From that experience, I learned about handling and creating difficult working environments.
Fast-forward several years. I was now in my career and was promoted to a position in a new area. It was very exciting. The work was demanding, and my position was one that was highly thought of in my organization. I was in my “dream job”!
One problem: I was working in a toxic environment. From the beginning, I could tell there was something different about this culture than my previous jobs. Individual conversations were quieter as people did not know whom they could trust. Other employees seemed to always want someone they could blame in the event of a problem. Some employees were known for unethical behavior but were given a pass because their performance met the company’s expectations.
Even my boss’s word was not trustworthy. He would tell me that I was doing a great job and then send a colleague in later to tell me how poorly I had performed on specific tasks. He would not recommend employees for promotions outside of his team and would threaten career destruction if individuals attempted to leave the department.
I was always looking over my shoulder, wondering what challenge was coming next. The office pulsed with constant tension and stress. Knowing whom to trust was very difficult. This leader had created a culture that was filled with fear, mistrust, and dishonesty. Unlike my experience in college with my brother, this time my boss truly was horrible.
During this difficult time, the story of Joseph encouraged me. He, too, had a run in with his brothers. He, too, had difficult bosses.
Genesis 39 tells of Joseph working for an Egyptian leader named Potiphar who so trusted Joseph that he put Joseph in charge of everything. However, Potiphar’s wife had an ill-conceived desire to sleep with Joseph. When she approached him, Joseph told her that he could not do such an evil thing, betraying his master and his God.
The righteous response was not acceptable to Potiphar’s wife. She then accused Joseph of trying to sleep with her. In response, Potiphar threw Joseph into prison based on the false claim.
What does the Bible say about how Joseph reacted to false accusations?
While in prison, Joseph earned the favor of the warden. The warden trusted anything under Joseph’s care because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did. (Gen 39:23)
Wait! What about revenge? What about justice? What about Joseph?
The story shows that Joseph responded to injustice by focusing his primary concerns on his relationship with God and his faithfulness to serve those who had authority over him.
The more I read about Joseph, the more I understood that my behavior should reflect God’s presence and not my circumstances. Reflecting on my own situation, I was not perfect in my pursuit of the presence of God; however, I would often pray, “God, I do not trust my boss, but I will submit to You. I am stressed. I am discouraged. I know You are in control. I want judgment on those I consider evil, yet I want You to be patient with me. Give me strength. Help me to love my boss despite my anger. I do ask that you will show me your favor and protect me from the arrows. Help me to love because I cannot love him on my own.”
"The more I read about Joseph, the more I understood that my behavior should reflect God’s presence and not my circumstances."
Time has passed, and my situation has changed. I learned through this difficult time that I needed to rely on God’s watchful eye and empowerment, even if I am being treated unfairly. I cannot compromise my moral or work ethic in order to fit into a particular work culture.
Whether I live in the palace or in the prison, I am learning to hear God’s voice above the circumstances of my life.