What places in your life are the easiest to lose your testimony? I imagine you might immediately think of your workplace. That’s where we interact with unbelievers, find ourselves surrounded by unbiblical virtues and where our efforts at integrity and humility are least appreciated. Add a high level of stress as well as high expectations, and you can often find yourself in the perfect storm.
Frankly, it can be difficult navigating through the workday with wisdom. Thankfully, God inspired the wisest person in human history to teach us some important lessons about how we bring wisdom to work with us each day. In addition to company regulations and office memos, let’s open the wisdom manual from Solomon and take a closer look.
Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 8:2, “Keep the king’s command, because of God’s oath to him.”
This verse may remind you of Romans 13, where Paul commands believers to submit to “governing authorities.” However, Solomon uses a word here— translated “king”—to refer to more people than just politicians. This word refers to anyone with earthly authority over someone else. You could translate it “supervisor,” or “boss.”
Solomon reminds us that when we obey authority, we’re ultimately obeying God, who placed that person in their position of authority. When you obey your manager, you’re directly obeying your Lord.
BE PATIENT IN THE PROCESS.
Solomon adds to this verse: “Be not hasty to go from his presence” (Ecclesiastes 8:3).
Solomon isn’t telling you how quickly to drive home from the office, but rather to have an attitude of patience in your relationship with the people who manage you at work.
In other words, wisdom doesn’t make rash decisions, or respond emotionally. A wise response may take time to develop, and it is delivered with care and consideration.
SHOW LOYALTY TO THE OFFICE.
This practical piece of advice does not mean you blindly support your company, no matter what they do. In fact, I would encourage you to be aware of positions your company takes and the donations they make to organizations and political candidates.
Solomon is referring here to gracious behavior. He’s encouraging us not to return evil for evil, and to refuse to seek revenge when we are personally maligned. This truth applies to every relationship on the job, but it’s especially important as you relate to your manager. When tensions rise and tempers flare, a supervisor or coworker might habitually lash out against others. In this case, be careful how you respond. Don’t engage in the back and forth insults we see hurled on social media, in the workplace, or even on presidential debate stages. Any unkind word will end up staining your personal witness for Christ.
More than 200 years ago, during a presidential election, James Blaine, the opponent of Grover Cleveland, found out that Cleveland had fathered a child out of wedlock. He quickly nicknamed Cleveland “The Beast of Buffalo”—since Grover was from Buffalo, New York.
The Cleveland campaign responded with their own slur. They composed a little poem which they began using whenever they referred to James Blaine. It went: “Blaine, Blaine, continental liar from the state of Maine.”
With each attack, the other campaign would respond in turn.
This is the way of the world. Strike back, yell louder, and throw more mud. But followers of Jesus obey our Master and turn the other cheek.
NEVER SIN AGAINST GOD.
I need to clarify the principle of obeying authority and encourage you to set the same boundary for yourself that Peter and the apostles did in Acts 5:29: "We must obey God rather than men.”
You are to obey the “commands” of your earthly authorities unless they ask you to violate God’s Word. I personally know believers who have lost their jobs because they refused to violate Scripture. They may have lost relationships, careers, and promotions, but they gained the approval of God when they refused to compromise their standards.
Obeying the Lord is worth so much more than titles, promotions, and earthly applause.
NEVER SPEAK OUT OF TURN.
A person of wisdom will remain silent, not because they’re afraid or without an opinion, but because they are looking for the right time to speak. Solomon urges, “The wise heart will know the proper time and the just way. For there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him” (Ecclesiastes 8:5-6).
If you feel you need to speak, don’t speak with anger or untimely rudeness. Take a deep breath and count to 10! Take the afternoon, or the next day to rehearse the tone and content of your words. Then communicate what is on your heart with an attitude of grace and love.
James, the half-brother of Christ, reminds us that our mouths are the most dangerous part of our entire body. He writes: “How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! . . . It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:5, 8).
Taming the tongue is a lifelong process that can save marriages, friendships, and jobs.
James continues in chapter 3 to encourage us with a reminder that echoes Solomon’s earlier words: “Who is wise among you? . . . By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom” (James 3:13).
Do you want to be wise? Bring wisdom with you to work.