Biblical themes in organisational management (2)


 …discourse and lessons

I know of an organisation which has commitment as part of its core values. The Bible speaks of commitment at work and this must be adhered to by Christians. The value of commitment to teamwork is essential. It also contributes to the realisation of expectations and goals of organisations. Colossians 3:22-23 states: “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God. And whatsoever ye do, do it heartly, as to the Lord and not unto men”. Ephesians 5:5-8 and        Titus 2:9-10 corroborate the issue of obedience, faithfulness, dedication and commitment at the workplace.

Again, Titus 3:8 highlights the need for believers to maintain good works. It is clear that without commitment one cannot maintain good works. Furthermore, Ecclesiastes 10: 9 entreats human beings: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might…”So the Bible has clearly propagated the commitment to duty.

Good communication

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” – (Ephesians 4:29). Also, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” – (1 Corinthians 15: 33). Thus, the Scriptures emphasise civility in communication. They teach against rudeness, slander, gossip, vulgarity, insults and any utterance which is indecent. Any worker who follows this biblical instruction will show respect and dignity to his co-workers. The Christian will avoid profanity in his conversation. He would not want to use bad words or inappropriate words to destroy his work colleague, rather he will use words of encouragement and offer good advice. The Bible further states in Colossians 4:6 –“Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man”.

Fair treatment with respect to payment of wages/salaries

Deuteronomy 25: 4 and 1 Corinthians 9: 9 agree that “Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn”. This implies that workers must be offered their due, with respect to wages, salaries or compensation. Employers must remember the Scripture in Colossians 4:1 – “Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven”. This is in consonance with Section 68 of the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651), which states: “Every worker shall receive equal pay for equal work…”

The Bible teaches against employers who cheat their employees and take undue advantage of them. Employers are not only obligated to pay workers with the fruit of their labour but duty bound to pay on time. Deuteronomy 24:15 – “At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the LORD, and it be sin unto thee”.

There is also a warning against employers or paymasters who cheat workers and delay payments of their wages or salaries. James 5:4 – “Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth”. Again, the Bible admonishes in Leviticus 19:13: “Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning”.

Protecting corporate reputation

Corporate reputation is a strategic asset of organisations whether a profitable organisation or non-profitable organisation. All employees are required not to do anything to tarnish the image of the entity. Employees must always remember that a little misconduct can negatively affect the reputation of the company. Ecclesiastes 9:18B: “But one sinner destroyeth much good”. Galatians 5:9 – “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump”. The code of conduct of corporate organisation expects workers to be of good behaviour so that they don’t bring shame and disgrace to their institutions. It is needful to state that the reputation which has taken decades to build can be destroyed within some minutes.

Seeking counsel/advice

These days we have special advisors at some workplaces. Also, there are legal counsels at various organisations. Their roles are very important. Counsellors are needed to give useful and critical advice. They are professionals who offer the course of direction based on their expertise for resolving problems or achieving successful operations. The need for counsellors have been identified in the Holy Writ. Proverbs 15:22 – “Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established”. Again Proverbs 11:14 – “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety”. “Every purpose is established by counsel” (Refer to Proverbs 20:18A. So it is a good thing for executives to have intelligent and competent advisors who will assist them in planning, directing, evaluation and recommending remedial actions. Managers must acknowledge that they don’t know everything. There may be a direct report of the lower echelon who has a specialist knowledge on an issue, and managers must humble themselves to seek or tap that expertise.

However, the Bible decries wrong counsel, and cautions men not to take their decisions based on ungodly counsel. (Refer to Psalm 1:1). Moreover, the Bible states in Proverbs 19:20 – “Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end”.

In his article on 12 Biblical Principles On Which To Build A Business, Ken Gosnell shared his perspective on seeking counsel: “The wisdom of others can be powerful. Every great leader in the Bible had, at least, one advisor. However, many business leaders try to do things all on their own. In fact, it is often said that it is lonely at the top. It is only lonely at the top if you lead alone. Steward leaders believe in the power of others.”

Threatening or forced labour

Managers and supervisors must not threaten their direct reports in the discharge of their duties. In Ephesians 6: 8-9, the Bible charges that: “Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him”.  In forbearing threatening, employers are required to be compliant with the prohibition of forced labour under Section 116 of Act 651 (Labour Act). The law states: 1. “A person shall not be required to perform forced labour. 2. It is an offence for an employer to exact or cause to be exacted, or permit to be exacted, for his or her benefit forced labour from any worker.” Full explanation on forced labour can be found in Sections 116 & 117 of Act 651.

Striving for excellence

Management of organisations will expect their employees to strive for excellence in the performance and be competitive in customer service delivery. This calls for continuous improvement, discipline, passion, reliability and determination. In 1 Corinthians 9:25A, the Bible postulates: “And every man that striveth for mastery is temperate in all things”. 2 Timothy 2:5 states that those who pursue excellence must do so in accordance with laid down rules and regulations. Striving for mastery implies striving for excellence or the ultimate. This requires self-discipline or strict discipline, patience, strict training and self-control in all things. To master an art, trade or job, you must also learn conscientiously, direct your efforts to the goal, and keep away from distractions.

Receiving gifts or bribery

Good management practices frown on bribery because employees are wrongly influenced to take decisions contrary to rules, regulations and policies of organisations. Bribery also influences people to give wrong judgement and take decisions which are not prudent. The Bible states: “The king by judgement establisheth the land: but he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it” (See Proverbs 29:4). Again, the Bible pointed out in 1 Samuel 8:3 – “And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgement. On a warning note, the Holy Writ said in Job 15:34 – “For the congregation of hypocrites shall be desolate, and fire shall consume the tabernacles of bribery”. It also detests gains through dishonesty as the exposition in Proverbs 28:8 elucidates: “He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor”.

An organisation which operates with little or no bribery obtains a better reputation than the one which is notorious of bribery.

In Luke 3:14B, the Bible advised: … Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages”.  If you are not happy with your salary, then get a second job to earn more or improve your qualifications, competence, skills and secure a promotion or a better job which will earn you more salary.

Ultra vires

This means beyond the powers or acting without authority. The story of King Uzziah in the Old Testament of the Bible illustrates this. His case can be found in 2 Chronicles 26. He was sixteen years when he became king of Judah. He became strong and prosperous. One day, he went to the temple and wanted to burn incense – which was the exclusive duty or prerogative of the Jewish priests. The priests withstood him and advised him not to do it. Uzziah became angry and while he held the censer in his hand to burn the incense, God struck him with leprosy. He carried this disease until he died.

In organisational management, it is not advisable to arrogate powers and duties to yourself, nor take decisions beyond your powers, nor assume responsibilities which are above you, nor say things which you have not been authorised to say. Don’t usurp authority. In addition, do not go and make promises to customers which you cannot fulfil. If these things come to the attention of management executives you may pay very dearly for ultra vires.


Employees receive promotion in their places of work for a number of reasons. One of them is very good or excellent performance noted after periodical performance assessment. As you increase your output very significantly, it is seen and appreciated or rewarded. The Bible encourages and instructs: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your father which is in heaven” –(See Matthew 5: 16). One expression over there in this verse which is important is ‘good works’. It is not only ‘one good work’ but ‘good works’. More is expected of the Christian in the discharge of his duties.

Never think that good deeds or bad deeds are not taken note of. Your work colleagues are watching. Customers are also watching. A customer can even recommend you for promotion, and his words may influence a manager for your professional elevation.

Matthew 25:23 states: “His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make you a ruler over many things…”. So whatever responsibilities have been entrusted in your care, carry them out with distinction. If it is a small job do it very well. My grandfather taught me that “in great or small things, be as thorough as you can”. Your great performance over few job assignments is what may bring you to the limelight and get you a promotion for higher responsibilities and greater salaries and allowances.

Concluding remarks

There are many nuggets in the Bible. There are many things we can learn from the Bible. Researchers, management consultants, administrators, arbitrators, leaders, employers, employees, retirees, students and other classes of people can read it to acquire wisdom, leadership skills, ethical perspectives, management principles, and professionalism.

I will end this piece with some striking remarks made by some writers concerning the Bible.

Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), who was poet, novelist and lawyer, described the Bible as The Book. He wrote:

“Within this ample volume lies

The mystery of mysteries.

Happiest they of human race

To whom their God has given grace

To read, to fear, to hope, to pray,

To lift the latch, to force the way;

But better had they ne’er been born

That read to doubt, or read to scorn.”

Again, another writer, George Gilfillan, in his article: The Bible – Independent of All Other Books (which can be found in the book, Masterpieces from World Literature), had this to say:

“Other books, after shining their little season, may perish in flames, fiercer than those which destroyed the Alexandrian Library; this must, in essence, remain pure as gold, but inconsumable as asbestos in the general conflagration. Other books may be forgotten in the universe where suns go down and disappear like bubbles in the stream; the memory of this book shall shine as the brightness of that eternal firmament and those higher stars which are for ever and ever.”

The writer is a chartered banker

E-MAIL: [email protected]

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