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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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Dominic Raab: bully or just demanding?

Given the year we’ve had in British politics, you could be forgiven for greeting the news of the Deputy Prime Minister’s resignation with nothing more than a partially raised eyebrow.

And yet, even when senior government figures are resigning at a similar rate to Premier League managers, Dominic Raab’s exit stands out.

Raab had recently been subject to an investigation into allegations of bullying, which arose from his time as minister in several departments. Dozens of civil servants complained that, whether intentionally or not, he upset or humiliated them, was unnecessarily critical of their work, and abrasive and nasty to work with.

And so he resigned, though not without questioning the report’s findings, and arguing that employees should be held accountable for poor quality work.

All of which raises an important question: whether in the civil service or in any other workplace, how do we strike the balance between expecting and giving excellence, and being humane in our dealings with colleagues? Whether Dominic Raab was a bully or simply a demanding boss, the question remains the same: how can we do the best job possible when we’re poorly treated?

Scripture documents plenty of challenging workplace environments, including civil servants dealing with particularly intimidating and unpredictable bosses. Daniel’s employer threatens to kill his whole workforce simply because they’re unable to interpret his dream (Daniel 2:12), and Joseph’s manager threw him into prison on false charges (Genesis 39:20). And yet, in both situations, through a combination of God’s empowerment and their own effort, both men rose up the ranks, demonstrating excellence in the work they produced. Making good work means doing our tasks – whatever they may be and whoever they may be for – in a way that’s timely, clear, helpful, and insightful.

However, even when in leadership, both men matched their competence with godly character, being utterly trustworthy, honourable, and beyond reproach, even when that meant challenging their employer (Daniel 6:4, 10). As Christians, we’re called to be the sort of leaders that motivate and encourage employees, the sort of kind colleagues that people want to work alongside, and the sort of employees that call out unjust practices. We’re to see the value of the people alongside us and the mission ahead of us, which perhaps helps us pursue excellence, but do so in a kind way.

Wherever you work, whatever you do, through good work and great character, do it to the glory of God.

Matt Jolley

Research and Implementation Manager, LICC



  1. Great piece Matt – really helpful, thank you 😊
    ‘We’re to see the value of the people alongside us and the mission ahead of us, which perhaps helps us pursue excellence, but do so in a kind way’ is a phrase I will be sticking in my work notebook as a daily reminder!

    By Jenny Brown  -  28 Apr 2023
  2. Great piece! A drive for excellence and making good work is vital but this can be done respectfully, boosting the worker while giving an ‘even better if…’.with the work. This is what we do for children at school. And we are all children inside, God’s children. 🙂

    By Deborah Jenkins  -  28 Apr 2023
  3. Thanks for this really interesting article!
    I have worked with Boards and Executive teams for several decades. The tone set from the top is really important. I have yet to come across a healthy, thriving organisation where that tone is one of intimidation, belittling of others and unkind. Being demanding is not the same as being toxic. You can be demanding in a way that nurtures and grows the capabilities of those around you. It’s all about how you show up.
    Whilst Joseph and Daniel are great examples of how to show up in adversity, I find the fruits of the Spirit set out in Galatians a more helpful guide. It’s a challenging list for sure, but a list that points us to the value of goodness, kindness and self-control in the way we live and in the way we lead.

    By Mark Withers  -  28 Apr 2023

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