Today we are going to look at the issue of promotion in the kingdom of God. The drive to excel, the need to achieve and the desire to compete with people around us are just some of the issues we face at some point in our lives.
The world has many concepts that shape our understanding of promotion and often we can bring those concepts into the kingdom of God misunderstanding that God has a purpose and a plan for promotion in our lives that’s different to the culture of the world around us.
- Promotion is a biblical concept
Contrary to popular opinion the bible has a lot to say about promotion. The bible defines promotion to include the following: to advance; to exalt and elevate; to raise up; to prefer in rank or honour; to be prospered and lifted up.
- Wrong concepts of promotion
Wrong concepts of promotion abound and this is mostly due to a lack of people renewing their minds with the truth of God’s Word. If your mind isn’t renewed then you will think according to the dominant ideology of the culture around you. It’s difficult to think contrary to the culture around you when you are constantly surrounded by people who have bought into the philosophy of this world but the bible calls us to be in the world but not of it. Here are some examples of wrong concepts of promotion:
- Promotion comes because of what I do, not who I am – 1 Sam 16:7 says that God sees not as man sees. Man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart. God saw David’s heart, not just his skill and anointed him as King of Israel. What we do ultimately comes out of who we are anyway. That’s why Proverbs 4:23 says that out of the heart flow the springs of life.
- Promotion comes from my boss who is responsible for me – Psa 75:6-7 says for not from the east or west and not from the wilderness comes promotion but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another. God is our promoter, not man!
- Promotion comes through taking responsibilities as stepping stones to the top – To take responsibilities purely as a stepping stone to the top is to have impure motivation for why you are doing what you are doing. When I was a youth pastor I didn’t see it as a stepping stone to becoming a senior pastor, I saw it as God’s specific calling for me at that season in my life and I rested in that and God blessed me as a result of it.
- Promotion comes because of academic accomplishment – After a full night of prayer and fasting Jesus chose a few fisherman, a tax collector, a thief, two ambitious sons of thunder and a loud mouth called Peter to enter into Jesus’ Leadership Institute and be the foundation upon which the church was built. Education is great and needed but I know many people who have a doctorate of ministry and have missed out on many hoped for positions because being educated alone doesn’t enhance your promotion quotient in the eyes of God.
- Promotion comes because of seniority – “I’m the next in line” – Just because you’ve got the most experience doesn’t mean you get the promotion. David’s eldest brother Eliab thought he would have been chosen as King because he was the oldest of Jesse’s sons but God overlooked him because he was looking for something other than experience, he was looking for the right heart.
- Promotion comes because of my strong ambition – The devil had a strong ambition to be like God and seated on the throne however, God threw him down because God exalts the humble but he opposes the proud.
- What Kingdom promotion looks like
- God initiates promotion – Read Psalm 75:6-7 again. It is clear that we are not to initiate promotion for ourselves but God is the one who takes responsibility to initiate it in our lives.
- Promotion comes when you bloom in the place God has planted you in – Psalm 23:1-2 says The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. If you will lie down and rest in the place God has planted you in God will green up the pasture underneath you and you will flourish in the work you put your hand to.
- Promotion comes when we handle the dealings of God appropriately – When someone else gets the job you think you were better qualified for how do you respond? When someone seems to belittle your calling and abilities by ignoring or overlooking you how do you respond? Remember everything is a test. If you respond God-ward instead of acting man-ward you will pass the test.
- Promotion comes when you rejoice in another person’s advancement and serve them – Matt 20 is clear – the greatest person among us is the one who serves. We are to rejoice with those who rejoice. One of the uncommon traits in our Australian culture is to be genuinely excited for other people’s success. We need to break the power of our flesh that stops us from celebrating the promotion of other’s around us and serve people with a heart of humility and rejoicing.
- Promotion comes when your character has been developed and proven to be stable – Proverbs says that a man’s gift will make room for him. Your gift will always make more room for you than your character can handle. Never let your gift take you where your character cannot keep you. God allows delays in our lives to make sure we have the capacity in our emotions, mind and spirit to handle the responsibilities of increase.
- The purpose of delayed promotion in our lives
One of the biblical measurement’s of a leaders spiritual maturity is the length of time the person can wait between the promise of a ministry and the fulfilment of the ministry and being recognized for it.
Abraham had to wait 25 years from time of the promise of being a father of many nations and actually seeing the fruit of the promise in the birth of Isaac. David served King Saul and was on the run from him for 13 years before he became king over all Israel according to the prophetic word of the Lord. The Apostle Paul spent 14 years with the disciples growing in his faith and character from his Damascus road conversion to the beginning of his full time ministry to the Gentiles.
God has a purpose for delaying promotion in our lives – here are some of the reasons:
- God is testing your heart and purifying our motives – This is a heavenly examination in which God exposes to the leader what inner and outer forces influence their decision making processes. You may not know why you do something so God arranges the circumstances to arise to reveal our true inner thoughts, intentions, values and priorities. Your true character is revealed under pressure.
- God is killing a self-inspired vision to reveal a God-inspired vision – Only God-given revelation (vision) can accomplish God-ordained results. Self-inspired vision can only accomplish self-driven results.
- God is developing his message inside of us – Each of us have a life message to pass onto others and God uses our life experiences to shape that message inside of us to impart into people’s lives.
- God is teaching us to submit our will to his will – When a person realizes God is asking him to do something that counters his own plans or desires, the self-will test has begun. God has to break the self-will of every person he uses, so that he can trust them to do whatever he wants.
- God is using delay to demonstrate that God’s method of promotion doesn’t come through man’s ways – When Joseph’s brothers stood before him 13 years after they sold him into slavery they could not deny that God’s hand had promoted him into the role of Prime Minister of Egypt.
I pray this has been a sobering and motivating teaching on promotion in God’s kingdom. God wants to increase your influence but he wants to do it his way. Don’t fall into the trap of seeking promotion the world’s way but honour God with what he has entrusted to you. God Bless!