Mailbag

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.

6 thoughts on “The Mailbag: Should I correct my boss’s errant theology?”

  1. Wise advice, Michelle. I’ve been in a similar situation with some good family friends of ours. Over the past few years the father of this family has become passionately wrapped up in the teachings of Bill Johnson, Heidi Baker and the gang. He is also passing this along to his sons and others at the charismatic church where they attend. The reason we first became friends with them is that our sons who are the same age became best friends in 1st grade. They are now 16 and this family graciously invites us to their home to swim during the summer and for the fight-night events that the husband invites men from his church over for–which my husband is also invited to. This year they invited us to a Christmas party in their home as well. I very much appreciate their hospitality and kindness and respect his passion for sharing the gospel and their desire to follow the Lord. He will often initiate conversations about spiritual things with me when I’m there because he knows that I too am passionately interested in such things.

    I’ve come to know much more about the NAR over the past few years and am concerned that he has been reading and following these leaders. He did a forty day fast after reading Bill Johnson’s book on the subject.for example, and travels to the Philippines each summer to do a healing and gospel preaching mission work, which he now brings his sons along for too, so that they too can engage in healing.

    So, I’ve come to be in a similar place as your questioner. I’ve discussed it with my husband and he has insisted that I not say anything that will ruin our friendship with them. I get that, and I don’t want that to happen either, but on the other hand, I care about them and don’t want them to be continuously drawn into this cult teaching and practice. With these things in mind I have been praying for a year or so that if God wants me to say something that he would give me opportunity and wisdom.

    I never would have brought this up at the recent Christmas party but toward the end of the evening he pointedly asked me what books I’d read lately. It so happens that the book I’d been reading was, A New Apostolic Reformation, by Doug Geivette and Holly Pivec. I had ordered this book and the associated book written by them as well. The other book is a smaller layman’s version. I told our friend about the book and it’s warnings and information about the NAR. He immediately went on the the defensive–explaining that he admires what Bill Johnson is doing to train people up to go out there and take action and that he wants to do the same. He also told me of how he brings in gosling conversation with many people he meets–usually asking if they would like prayer for something and then praying about that thing. He said that this sometimes prompts the person to tell him how that thing is going next time they see him, and if God has positively answered that prayer the person is eager to tell him. All of that I have no problem with, in fact I think it’s a good thing to do. I asked what is the gospel as he preaches it to people. He does have a handle on the true gospel and definitely has a heart for seeing people come to Christ. That I can certainly identify with. So, we have many points of agreement, and that’s how the conversation went.

    I asked if he would be willing to read the book I have–one of the two versions. He said that he would, so I went him and got both versions and asked which he’d rather read. He chose the shorter version. I haven’t seen him since then but it will be interesting to discuss with him. I anticipate that his defenses will be us since he has been so passionately seeking the NAR leaders and their teaching–even going to an NAR meeting where the manifestations of “the Spirit” were being sought, and which he experienced. I continue to pray for them. Perhaps it’s just as well that there has been this interim silence between us so that he might grapple with it and the Spirit might do His work.

    My advice then for your inquirer would be to pray for such an opportunity, as you also have suggested, and to have these books on hand–especially the shorter (blue) version. At some point she might mention that she’s been reading and hearing some concerning things about the NAR and ask if she would be willing to read the book. Or maybe even have the book on her desk where her boss might happen to see it and inquire about it. The good thing about the book is that the tone is friendly and respectful of those who are involved in the movement, so as not to be an instant turn-off. In the preface the authors list their approach points, including not being anti-continuationint/charismatic, and not assuming that NAR leaders are not true Christians.

    Got to get my son to school now….!

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      1. I meant would they apply to ME not preaching to an employee unless it came up in conversation. They’re here to work, not to be a captive audience.

        Funny, it’s easier to witness to the nominally Jewish one than to the nominally Pentecostal one whose grandmother is supposedly a minister.

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      2. There’s a little more flexibility when you’re an employer, and also since your employee is a personal assistant. For example, you could say during the hiring process that you’re a Christian and tend to talk about the Lord a lot, and ask if the potential employee would be comfortable with that. If she is a rabid atheist who will be openly antagonistic to Christianity, maybe that’s someone you wouldn’t want to hire. But even if she’s a Christian, you’ll want to make sure you’re not being too aggressive with your views or making her feel uncomfortable (not that you, personally, do that, Deb). But certainly expressing care for her, asking occasionally how you can pray for her, offering your perspective if she asks, letting her know you’re always available to chat or answer questions, etc., would be perfectly appropriate.

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