The Mailbag: Should I correct my boss’s errant theology?


I work in a Christian child care facility where the leadership is neck deep in false doctrine. Nearly a year ago, I stepped out of the classroom and into a management position so now I feel I’m more on the front lines. Most of the people believing all the false teaching (Bethel, Hillsong, Todd White, Sarah Young, etc.) are gone but the big boss is still in it. I’ve been bold to speak out against it to some of the young women who work there, but when it comes to my boss, I’m a lot less bold. So I guess my question is, am I wrong for not standing up to her and pointing out her error? I’m afraid I’ll get fired. What are your thoughts on this? Should I be bold and point out error? Should I even be working there?

Sounds like a sticky and uncomfortable spot to be in. Maybe we can sort things out a little.

Let’s start by remembering whose authority you’re under. First, you’re under God’s authority, so you need to make sure your highest priority is obeying Scripture regardless of the circumstances. If you’re married, your next authority is your husband. Make sure the two of you talk it through thoroughly and that you submit to any decisions he makes. You (and maybe your husband too) might want to bounce this situation off your pastor or elders and see what their counsel is. There’s wisdom in an abundance of counselors. Finally, at work, you are under your boss’s authority. She is not a friend or a co-worker, she is your boss. The two of you are not equals, you’re subordinate to her in the workplace. “Boldly” telling her she’s wrong about something (especially if it’s in regard to something that’s not work related) is not in keeping with God’s instruction to you to submit to her authority.

I’m not really clear on whether the false doctrine is a personal belief held by your boss that has no effect on the workplace, or whether the false doctrine is workplace policy. In other words, the false doctrine is part of the classroom curriculum you have to teach, or employees are required to take part in Word of Faith type devotions and contemplative prayer every morning, or in your role as administrator you have to do business with heretical “churches,” etc. So let’s take a look at it from both angles.

If the false doctrine is not affecting your work environment and is only a personal belief held by your boss, it is not necessary, and may not be wise, to proactively push the issue any more than you would be pushy about sharing the gospel with your boss if she were a garden variety lost person. It’s something that needs to be handled carefully and with wisdom about timing, how deep to go, etc. A good rule of thumb might be to address the issue only if she brings it up and asks for your opinion.

If it’s a situation where she’s constantly pushing the false doctrine on you and assuming you’re amenable to it, one way to handle it might be to say something like, “I’m kind of uncomfortable talking about this right now. Could I take you out to lunch and explain why?” At lunch, you’ll need to briefly, carefully, and biblically explain where you stand from the perspective of, “These are my personal beliefs,” helping her to grasp that when she pushes her personal beliefs (i.e. false doctrine) on you, you feel pressured and uncomfortable because you want to please her as your boss (the Bible teaches us that we’re to submit to those in authority over us and work hard for our employers), but you also don’t want to compromise your beliefs (“We must obey God rather than men.”) Hopefully she will get the message that she’s creating a hostile work environment and will tone it down. If she doesn’t, you’ll need to consider whether or not you want to keep working there.

If the false doctrine is part of workplace policy, you’ll need to figure out how pervasive it is and whether or not it’s something that can be worked around in accord with biblical principles and your conscience. If the false doctrine pretty much permeates your job (for example, if you were a teacher and it was interwoven into the curriculum you had to teach), it’s probably time to start looking for another job, and to make an appointment with you boss and politely explain why you’ll no longer be working there.

If it’s only a small part of your (otherwise doctrinally sound) job – for example, the aforementioned morning devotions – see if there’s a workaround. Employees are given all kinds of exemptions and accommodations these days, even for religious reasons. Perhaps you could be excused from the devotions or a co-worker could handle business with the heretical “churches” while you take on another task. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all,” Romans 12:18 says. Be as cooperative and flexible as you can.

If you decide to stay at your job, the best way you can have an impact on your boss is by being a godly example. Pray fervently that God would open her eyes to the false doctrine she’s believing. Ask God to give you opportunities to slip in a doctrinally sound “word fitly spoken” in conversation from time to time. Be an “above and beyond” employee with a great attitude. Show kindness to your boss and co-workers, asking how you can pray for them, inquiring after their families, health, etc. Give doctrinally sound books as office Christmas gifts. Invite your boss and co-workers to an occasional event at your church. Suggest a doctrinally sound podcast you love if the topic comes up. There are lots of ways you can have a biblical influence on you boss. It doesn’t necessarily have to be “confront or quit.”

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.