How to Deal with a Difficult Leader

by | Jan 27, 2015

We all work with a difficult leader at some point in our career. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, give it time – your turn will come. This kind of relationship cuts deep and can often be pressure-filled, tenuous, sleep depriving, and even have effects on your health.

God’s Word is full of examples of difficult kings, rulers, and managers – King Saul, Pharaoh, and the Pharisees to name a few. So, what wisdom can we gain on how we glorify God under difficult leadership? I will forewarn you; these aren’t easy. However, when done well, these tips can really help you build a stronger relationship with your leaders.

Pray for your leaders
It’s easy to sometimes forget that leaders need wisdom, discernment, compassion, and courage. Find ways throughout the day to pray that the Lord can move in their lives in order to make them a better person.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.   1 Timothy 2:1-4

Speak to them and about them in love.
No matter how difficult it may seem, it is imperative that we find ways to support our leaders. As tempting as it is to vent to your co-workers about a frustrating situation, pray about it and challenge yourself to find a better way to speak truth to them in an agreeable and productive manner.

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.   Ephesians 4:15
Submit to their authority
Oftentimes we talk about what it means to be a great leader; but what does it mean to be a great follower? Submitting to authority is by no means easy; however, God’s Word is clear we must submit to their leadership. More importantly, we must learn to let go of our need to control difficult situations at work and put them into God’s hands knowing he will make it right.

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme,  or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.  1 Peter 2:13-15

Continue to do your job with excellence
Remember, you glorify and honor God in your work, not people and certainly not yourself. By slacking off and blaming it on your leader, you are dishonoring God and hurting your reputation and witness. People are watching and looking for Christ in you. Introduce them to Christ by giving your very best.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.  Colossians 3:23-24

What do you think? Do you see areas for improvement? Perhaps you’re a leader who struggles with being difficult. If so, here are a few things you can try.

The most important thing to do is analyze your motives for why you do what you do. Do you do it to serve yourself? Or, are you seeking to serve others first and glorify God?