The word “subordinate” means “a person who is under the authority or control of another within an organization.” Though the word subordinate is not found in scripture, there are scriptures which address the subject of a subordinate and his superior. Let’s consider two passages that give God’s will to those who are in authority over others in a workplace environment.

Ephesians 6:9 reads, “And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him” (NKJV). In the preceding verses God gave instructions to the subordinates. Now He is instructing “masters” and it’s striking to learn that they are to “do the same things to them.” In other words, they were to take some of the instructions given to subordinates and apply them to themselves. Let’s read verses 5-8 to see what those instructions were.

Verse 5 says, “Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING, IN SINCERITY OF HEART, AS TO CHRIST.” I capitalized the words that should also apply to masters. Masters should have a “reverential fear of God,” which includes the “fear of offending Him” by mistreating his subordinate. We saw in verse 9 that they were to give “up threatening” which means they should NOT use harsh and abusive language. Their treatment of those under them should be “in sincerity of heart,” which means they should be “conscientious,” knowing that whatever they do is to be done “as to Christ.”

Verses 6-7 read, “Not with eye service, as MENPLEASERS, but as BONDSERVANTS OF CHRIST, AS TO THE LORD, AND NOT TO MEN.” Like their subordinates, masters must be focused on Christ and NOT on men. First and foremost they are serving the Lord, as we saw in verse 9 when we read, “Knowing that your own Master is also in heaven.” The Lord Jesus said in John 8:29, “I do always those things that please Him.” It was the Lord’s passion, form the manger to the cross, to please His heavenly Father, and it should be our passion as well, whether we be servants or masters.

Verse 8 states, “Knowing that WHATEVER GOOD ANYONE DOES, HE WILL RECEIVE THE SAME FROM THE LORD, whether he is a slave or free.” In verses 6-7 the master seeks to please His Lord NOW, but in verse 8 we have the added thought that he also seeks his Lord’s approval IN THAT COMING DAY when we stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ to have our works and service reviewed by the Lord Jesus. It matters not if we are a subordinate or a master, we should have the desire to hear those blessed words from the Lord, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:23).

The second passage is Colossians 4:1, “Masters, GIVE YOUR BONDSERVANTS WHAT IS JUST AND FAIR, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.” All subordinates should be treated according to their service for their masters. If one is doing a good job, he is entitled to be paid accordingly and may even deserve a bonus. Some employers take advantage of their employees by giving them the smallest wage possible, with little or no benefits, but this verse should challenge them to be “just and fair.” They are reminded that “you also have a Master in heaven.” We expect the Lord to be “just and fair” with us, and HE MOST SURELY WILL BE. When we stand before Him to have our lives reviewed, everything that was done for His honor and glory will receive its just recompense. 1st Corinthians 3:14 confirms this, “If anyone’s work which he has built endures, HE WILL RECEIVE A REWARD.” If you are a “master,” seek to emulate the Lord Jesus by giving “your bondservants what is just and fair.”  (206.3)  (DO)