Slaves must always obey their masters and do their best to please them.
They must not talk back or steal but must show themselves to be entirely trustworthy and good.
Then they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive in every way.
Titus 2:9, 10
Many Christians believe slavery has ended. I’m slow ignoring something the Bible teaches until it’s clear I should. I think the Bible, rightly understood, is timeless and applies to every culture. Here is how I understand the above passage.
Forcing someone to work for me or structuring a workplace that makes people feel trapped is evil.
No man or woman should ever feel they owe their soul to their job or their boss. Wholesome work is meant to be a fulfilling, satisfying, act of love and worship. Our workplaces should be sanctuaries, where people find meaning and grow strong in mind, body, and character as they solve problems and create useful ideas and products that help others live a better life.
Some people are in a hole because of poor choices, hard times, lack of education, or insufficient opportunities. These people must find some way to support themselves, whether they like it or not. They must find a job. In that sense, they enter the workforce as bond slaves.
They are not our slaves, but slaves to their circumstances in life. As fellow humans, we treat them with respect. As business leaders and Jesus followers, we help them find freedom. Help them discover their talents and coach them to develop their potential. Offer them opportunities to learn useful skills, develop good character, and find a satisfying career path, whether inside or outside our organization.
As they grow and develop, one day they will rise above needing a job and will be given opportunities to work at what they love.
Now they can choose to go or stay. We certainly hope they choose to stay. If they choose to stay, they become hired servants. They may choose to become hired servants for someone else. Or they may choose to start their own business.
Forcing someone into slavery is always wrong.
Helping others become successful feels risky. What if we help them and they choose to leave? Consider these points:
- When we help someone become successful and they leave, they’ll likely speak well of us, which will return as a win for us.
- Someone asked a manager, “Aren’t you afraid you’ll educate your employees and they leave?”
The manager replied, “I’m more afraid of them remaining uneducated and staying.”
As those leaders who follow Jesus, we must become like Jesus and set people free, even when they choose not to follow us or Jesus. Ultimately, we are making an eternal investment.
Our greatest reward is from him.