Handling a Difficult Employee - Forgive or Fight?

(Hamilton) #1

I need help to distinguish when to fight vs forgive your enemy. While the NT is very clear that one ought to forgive infinite times and also teaches us to accept insults, I also see that David as a little boy stood up against his enemy under the will of God. We see several men of God switching on a fight mode with the approval of God in the old testament.

How do I apply these both in my day to day life? should I fight back like David or just forgive?

(Kathleen) #2

Great question, @gjhamilton78 . I asked myself a very similar question yesterday as our pastor was preaching on Psalm 2! (Though it was more of a tangential question about the nature of ‘enemies’ and what it means that there is such a thing as an ‘enemy’ and who or what can be considered our ‘enemy’?)

I was just reflecting on a couple of things we are told by Scripture…

  1. God has enemies. They do exist.
  2. Jesus says to love our enemies.
  3. We have an Enemy.
  4. Our Enemy is not flesh and blood (Eph 6.)
  5. We are to ‘stand our ground’ against the schemes of our Enemy.

So I suppose I am wondering what you mean when you say ‘fight back’? Under what circumstances will you be doing the fighting and with what weapons will you be fighting?

Each situation is different and I imagine God calls us to a different fights at different times (with forgiveness being a key element in our Christian fight). Just wondering the context of your present situation that draws out this question? :slight_smile:

(SeanO) #3

I would say:

  • set firm boundaries and expectations (for example, they should communicate with you)
  • have clear consequences
  • do all in love

I thought this article on linked in about being a Christian manager had a good quote about establishing respect vs being ‘fearsome’ or ‘feared’. In order to gain respect, you need firm boundaries and clear consequences and you need to follow through. But you still want to do all in love.


“However, you don’t want to be a fearsome leader, making it difficult for employees to want to come and talk to you, but you do want to establish respect. It is because of God’s love, mercy, and even His wrath against evil that we revere Him. Likewise, following through on our gospel and disciplinary promises will establish respect. Not reverence, but respect. In the true sense of the word, reverence just means a deep respect for somebody, which would be great to have, but in its common use today it has a negative connotation that implies a little bit of fear that comes with the respect, hence our reverence (or fear) of God. Again, you don’t want to be a fearsome leader, but you do want to be respectable. Nobody will respect you if you never fulfill your promises.”

(Hamilton) #4

Thanks for asking Kathleen - my question stems from my work. Few of my team members never seem to keep me in the loop at times and has only disregard for me. So, i was not sure if I had to put my foot down or continue showing care. I have been demonstrating care for quite some time and last week I happen to read a book on how David fought his battles. It spoke about the need to be bold and not to cave in.

Also in NT, we see that Paul calls to confront without fearing consequences…

(Kathleen) #5

Ah, I see. That is such a tough spot to be in, so my heart goes out to you!

I would agree with where @SeanO begins. So much of leadership is communication, consistency, and humility. And, as much as I don’t like the thought of it, as leaders, we have to be willing to confront someone when there’s a problem. This doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. I mean, confrontation is risky in the sense that the person you are looking to address may react badly, but in my experience, to let certain things slide can be even more damaging, esp. if you’re leading a team of people. One person’s negative influence can poison the morale of an entire team. But, I find - as I have been both giver and receiver of confronting conversations - that as I approach the person (or am approached) prayerfully, with humility, with a genuine heart that wants to understand the experience of the other, that more positive things come out of the conversation than negative. In other words, it is oftentimes worth it.

So, yes, I would encourage you not to flee/‘forgive’, but, in bold humility, to stand up and confront…meet him head on, not throwing punches, but asking the hard questions. Be willing to have a difficult conversation in the hope to resolving the issue at hand.

I hope this doesn’t sound condescending! I mean for it to be encouraging, to spur you on in the good work! :slight_smile: I will be praying for a constructive resolution of this. Thanks for your letting us in on this little slice of your life.

(Geoffrey) #6

Hello, I hope you don’t mind another input on the subject matter you posted. As a former manager of a large engineering firm I can tell you from experience that when you have a subordinate who does not respect you or your position you will not resolve the situation unless and until you deal with it. As believers in this world we are to function to a high standard of integrity. Our Lord has designed human institutions with great freedom but never without a clear and established line and structure of authority.
In a leadership role you are responsible to ensure that the structure and processes of the company are upheld. This also ensure a clear and stable work environment for other staff members who may be negatively affected by a disrespectful employee. Authority structure does a lot more than people think. When used fairly and correctly it ensures stability and even security to a degree. it also allows for personal responsibility and ingenuity. If you are to do all things for Christ so to speak, then you are to uphold His principles of authority and respect. This means not only to the individual but also to the institution you work for. This at times will be hard to do and that is part of leadership, having to make hard decisions that are needed for the larger need of the entity you serve and those immediately around you may not see that need or understand that. That why you have a leaders role. I am sure you answer to someone above you and so on.
I do not believe that God carries out His work by undermining the very things he has set up for us. We are all to function under a system of authority. This does not mean it is to be used incorrectly like a dictator or anything like that but never be afraid to uphold and stand for those things which are necessary to proper function. You don’t need the strain it places on you dealing with someone who is not correctly oriented. By all means approach them and sort out your concerns but you are responsible to ensure that behaviours that are counter productive to proper work place and human relationships are kept in check. Your not their and he or she is not there to be friends and love each other. Your there to serve your entity/company who employs you but ultimately you are to serve as unto the Lord Himself. If he was leaving you to serve His company what would need to be done to ensure it runs to His principles of integrity and respect?
You have other employees and staff to consider and any actions by any member of the team that pulls down that structure and working environment must be dealt with. that can be done in many ways and perhaps this person does need some form of help or whatever. Regardless of that aspect, you must uphold proper respect and structure. As hard as we try to get on with people, we simply cannot please everyone. There will be those we simply don’t get on with. We apply the Lords provision of grace, patience and forgiveness but that does not mean that a person being difficult or disrespectful should not be held in check when they are wrong. God Himself never hesitates to take us to the wood shed if necessary. Whom He Loves He chastens. Deal with the bad behaviour. Hate the sin not the sinner but don’t let it grow bigger otherwise it will get too large to reign in and then it will blow up and affect not only you and the individual but those around you as well. Hope this throws another perspective for you to consider. We must always be gracious and patient but that does not mean we allow poisonous behaviour to thrive.

(Kathleen) #7

Thanks for the input, @gnslaser! It’s good to hear some of the wisdom you’ve picked up over the years. I’m curious if you found that there were ever times you had to ‘pick your battles’ so to speak? And, if so, how did you prioritise the battles to fight/issues to confront?

I imagine there’s no across-the-board answer to that question, but it’s always interesting to hear how people handle tricky group dynamics and why they stand up to certain things over others.

(Geoffrey) #8

Hi Kathleen,

Thank you for your email. As I replied to Hamilton I did not intend to write so much but I felt it may help him as he considers his future actions with staff. Your posting and others all offer some very good things for him to consider and surely must be helpful.
In considering your query on “choosing my battles” I think the answer can be quite lengthy if I take into consideration the areas of application that may apply to.
If I was to give basic answer I think that I choose my battles based on:

  • the consequences the issue has. i.e. how does it impact me?

  • how it affects others. This would depend on the situation. For example is it a husband wife matter, work matter, sibling to sibling matter and so on.

  • The importance of it. Depending on the matter at hand, is it a minor issue or does it have larger implications.

  • Timing, some things are best dealt with later when circumstances demand or is it necessary to deal with it immediately. I suppose it depends on the nature of the issue.

As you have commented previously, there are so many variables with this but I think I look to what I understand of the person and or circumstance, then consider what the Scriptures has to say on the subject. On top of this is my own condition. Am I being too sensitive or fussy or precious about a thing or am I truly sure it needs dealing with.
There are so many varied circumstances to this that it is hard to qualify everything about that subject.
As you move through life you do learn things about people and yourself. Having the Scriptures and Christ as the guide and filter for my actions is the only way, in my mind we can be effective in life. We will make mistakes and poor decisions but we must cary on and keep growing in the Lord and in the wisdom learnt through life. Sadly, we do not always learn and do repeat our mistakes but that is part of being human in a fallen world. I hope this offers some answers to your previous query. Thank you for your interest and thoughtfulness. Geoff.

(Patrick Teo) #9

i used to be a Fire & Structural Engineering Company director. i percieve my able staffs were my golden gooses. Therefore, i value them. As long as my staff has ability, i will walk extra miles with love and long sufferings so that i can gain their loyality. None of my staffs able wanted to leave.
The only way to keep a good staff is to make him/her feel that there is no where else he/she rather be ! slight_smile:
We should run our business with Christ Centre. Prayfully for every move and decision we are making. Regarding Christ as our boss and we are merely Him workers. if a Christ bases business entrepreneurship is being considered, we can bring the heavenly wisdom to adopt it on earth, nothing would be impossible.
The problem is this day & age, a company tend to adopt a system, whereby a staff is removed, it can be replaced with another one. In this case, we tend to fire the staff without a second thought! Bear in mind, it takes a lot of time and effort to train a good man