Whether it’s next to a palace or a desert, God always promotes you.
We humans like to define promotion as a linear progression, where every step always goes to a new place of higher rewards mixed with a little bit more responsibility. In our minds, the line is always straight and upwards-slanting, each new point should never be below the one before it in reward, power, or prestige. But that isn’t the true definition of promotion God uses.
Did Daniel feel like he got promoted when he was thrown from the spot of “VP of Babylonian Empire” straight into the lion’s den? Did Joshua enjoy a posh corner-office view when He was “promoted” to the depths of an Egyptian prison for crimes he didn’t commit? Clearly God uses a different definition than we do, and we must change our perspective if we are to become effective “ladder climbers” in God’s Kingdom.
The first step is to realize that, though sometimes it may not feel like it or it appears hard to understand, the place God’s leading you into is always one of greater learning and responsibility than the one you were just in prior, and is always done with the intention to prepare you for greater long term destinies. Even if it seems like a step further from your dreams instead of closer.
In the real job world, we can stagnate without knowing it. We may always keep going “up” at each ladder step, but outside appearances can be deceiving. We can end up getting promoted to a nice manager spot that has all the appearances of being on the up-and-up, but unbeknownst to us the department may be a dead end on the corporate value chain. Our growth will stall without support and we’ll end up permanently disqualified from the VP positions above us as other candidates get promoted instead for the rest of our career. Or we may fall victim to the Peter Principal, where we get promoted beyond our effective capabilities and stall out, because we never learned the valuable lessons that could’ve been picked up from a “lower” position somewhere else.
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Luckily, God is a much wiser CEO. He knows exactly where to put us so we’ll always keep stretching and growing exactly where we need to, so that we’ll always remain in the running for the highest executive spots. We just can’t see that when we may suddenly go from senior leader to mail room gopher. God’s line to our destiny is never straight, it’s a zig-zag.
This principal is not intuitive to our minds, but it is found all throughout organic nature. Stars collapse smaller and smaller before going supernova. Stock markets go through correction to lower prices before every explosive move higher. Caterpillars encase themselves in a prison, cutting off all life, before emerging as butterflies.
Once you realize that what seems like demotion is always a promotion in disguise in God’s Kingdom, the next step is to stop complaining about it and start owning your new role. Just like in the real job world, it’s how we perform in our current role that determines if we get promoted to the next one.
The character of God is such that He loves to keep giving promotes to His people over and over.
We look at it wrongly when we end up next in what seems like a dead end or somewhere seemingly worse than the one we were in before and complain about it. We need to see it as a new form of glory. For God is simply ushering in new lessons, responsibilities, challenges to prepare us for the next great leap upwards.
The end lesson of every phase is simply the same: to draw you into deeper and deeper intimacy and reliance on your relationship with God. As the challenges and lessons of each new phase gets harder, it deepens and refines your walk with God in ways the role you held prior didn’t. And when God is more than pleased to give you those promotions to the “palace” positions with those plush rewards for a time, you’ll have the character to handle it with grace and holiness as well.
Realize every position you hold, whether high or low, is purposefully temporary. Unless you yourself make it permanent, which is never God’s plan.
God has an infinite ladder of promotion as He is infinite in being. Our progression from “glory to glory” is only hampered either by our loss of appetite for the next promotion He has in store or our unwillingness to humble and learn what He has on the wings for us now in our present role.
And just like the saying in the corporate world: “dress for the job you want, not the one you have,” so it is equally valid in the spiritual world. We must put on the spiritual mind of that role of higher calling, responsibility, and resource that we feel called to, even if we may not be walking in it currently or it seems God may be taking us lower and lower. While joyfully fulfilling your current role, take the future promise and act it out, speak it and claim it out loud as if it’s yours. And in His time the Lord will respond to your belief and make it so. It’s a Biblical promise.