Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than men…It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. –Col 3:23-24 (NASB)

For I desire mercy and not sacrifice –Hosea 6:6 (NKJV)

With a growing number of single parents within the work force every year, there is bound to be a time in most employer/employee relationships when the rubber meets the road in regards to adhering to company policies and accommodating a single parent’s schedule. I am not here to advocate for either side, but to help lay the groundwork as believers for us to honor the Lord in all that we do.

It is no secret that the schedule of a single parent is often anything other than “set” or "stable." Kids need to be taken to and from daycare centers, babysitters call in absent or sick, and the possibility of not getting any help from another adult at all. Doctor appointments and school functions are generally during most regular work hours, and all that is not even mentioning what happens if an emergency comes up where we have to leave work abruptly. Despite the additional challenges single parents face as a one-person team, we are called as followers of Christ to give our employers the very best that we can; and as employers to treat those who work for us with love and respect, keeping in mind that we all are ultimately working for the Lord (Col 3:24).

A friend of mine at work recently told me that some employers do not mind working around the everyday trials single parents may have. What does bother them is when an individual is not open and up front during the interview when explaining their entire situation. In other words, a single parent may say one thing at the interview to get hired, but then a whole new bag of excuses gets opened up once the position is secured. Proverbs 6:17 tells us that the Lord hates a lying tongue, and truly lying has no business in the life of a Christian. If we honor God with our lives and actions, then He will open the right doors to provide for us.

Give God your best at work and stay in an open communication relationship with your boss as circumstances come up. It may or may not work out in the long run, but God tests the heart and mind of the righteous (Jer 20:12), and it is our character that He is most concerned with.

From an employer standpoint, I completely understand the importance of steady work and being able to rely on your employees. Companies have quotas and demands they must meet to survive, and instability in a department may put added pressure on other staff to fill in the gaps. If you are in fact a Christian boss or business owner, then please, try to look at it from a single parent’s point of view. Single parenting is a result of brokenness in some part of life, and most will want to perform well at their job because they are well aware of their children’s (and their own) needs to survive. As the verse above states, God desires us to show compassion and mercy to others and not surface-level sacrifice. None of us deserves His grace; yet, it is given to us daily. If you do in fact find yourself with one or more single parents working for you, try to keep a soft heart and work with them if possible. A single parent is already overwhelmed in so many areas of life, and it would mean the world to them if someone could actually see beyond their struggles and show some love. Ask the Lord for guidance in finding balance between maintaining a healthy work environment and working with other’s needs. If you ask with a pure heart and motive, then He will show Himself strong on your behalf (Prov 11:25).

Let’s face it: work can be extremely stressful at times. How great is it when we grasp the reality of who our true boss is? No matter what position we hold, He gives us all of the tools we need to be a servant leader and thrive in life!

Matt Haviland is the founder of "A Father’s Walk” single dad ministry and the author of the book, A Father’s Walk: A Christian-Based Resources for Single Fathers. He currently lives in his hometown of Grand Rapids, MI, is the co-founder of the Grand Rapids Single Parenting Expo, and is a single dad to a beautiful little girl himself. For more information on the ministry, please visit www.afatherswalk.org.  

Publication date: July 18, 2013