After an uncomfortable conversation with my boss, there I sat, trying to decide if I wanted to scream or cry. It wasn’t right or fair. For the first time in my working career, I faced injustice.
Ever been there? The emotional turmoil of calling out injustice or letting it go. How should I handle this as a Christian in the workplace? What is the right way to do this, and still stand for what is fair?
We see injustice everywhere in the world, and honestly, what I was going through at work was nowhere near what others experience daily in their lives. I discounted it at first, thinking it wasn’t that important. If you are thinking this as well…please hear me…if it hinders your work ethic, cripples your motivation, and steals your joy…it needs to be addressed. Don’t compare your injustice to others, and let it simmer in your heart. This can lead to apathy, bitterness, and burnout.
* Caveat: If you have experienced sexual harassment or illegal activity at work, please follow the proper channels to report this through your company’s ethics hotline, human resources department, or law enforcement. This type of injustice is a whole other level and needs to be dealt with immediately, swiftly, and appropriately. *
When workplace injustice happened to me, my first inclinations were to give in to anger, hurt, frustration, bitterness, and pride. Not my finest qualities, but thank goodness for grace and the gentle nudging of the Lord who showed me 3 keys to handle injustice well:
1) Look Upward
Before you do anything or vent to a co-worker, talk to the Lord. Give Him your feelings. Ask Him for help and guidance; He will show you what to do. Sometimes, it’s hard to hear God’s voice amid all our emotions. For me, there is usually an underlying peace that accompanies the action I’m supposed to take. According to Philippians 4:6-7, when we let our “requests be made known to God, the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Prayer not only brings direction and peace, but it guards us against harboring negativity that will kill our productiveness at work and dim our light to the world.
2) Look Inward
Inventory yourself. This can be hard, and requires us to lay down pride, examine ourselves, and learn from our mistakes. Could the injustice you experienced been avoided if you had simply done your job better? Did the promotion that was given to your colleague instead of you well deserved, as he/she is more qualified, has tenure, or works better with others? Did the discrepancy on your paycheck happen because you didn’t get your salary offer in writing? Even if you find no wrong on your part and it truly is an injustice against you, there is always SOMETHING we can learn. Ask the Lord to show you. Let our prayer be Psalm 51:10: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Staying teachable and humble will help advance you when it’s time.
3) Look Outward
After prayer and self-examination, you now know what to do about the injustice. If the Lord is asking you to let it go, trust Him to handle it. He knows what’s best for you, and He sees the big picture. However, if the Lord is asking you to take action, first find your peace, then present your case, and make sure to watch your tone. Addressing a work issue to a boss or colleague with heightened emotions is not a good idea; maintain professionalism. Leave your pride at the door, but be confident. Be calm and firm, but open to constructive suggestions. Listen fairly and speak kindly. Psalm 16:9 says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Plan and rehearse what you want to say and how you want to say it, but remain yielded to the voice of the Lord. After you have addressed the injustice and spoken with the people you needed to, let it go. Don’t let it invade your thoughts and disrupt your sleep any longer. Leave it to God. Follow what Exodus 14:14 says: “He will fight for you; you need only be still.”
Whether the results are favorable or not, you can move forward knowing you handled injustice with professionalism and a pure heart, while still being a light for the Lord in your workplace.