In God’s wisdom, the way up is down.
Advancement up the career ladder is a universal and consuming drive. The reasons are usually more money, more prestige, and more power.
The Way Up Is Down
Although the Bible clearly endorses hard work and proper recognition, its strategy for achieving promotion is in stark contrast to the ambitious tactics employed by many. For in God’s wisdom, the way up is down. This is a divine paradox. But like all biblical principles, it works.
“Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6) is the golden rule for advancement. Rather than concentrating our energies on gaining the next highest rung through infighting, politics, and self-promotion, the Scriptures focus on faithfully serving others where we are and leaving the results to God.
Biblical Examples of Greatness
Moses was called the meekest man on earth, yet God chose Him as field marshal of two million Israelites. Solomon declared he was nothing more than a little child in the bureaucratic realm, but God granted him unexcelled wisdom and riches. Jeremiah said he was just a youth when it came to spiritual things, but God appointed him the mighty prophet to Judah. In each case, genuine humility was the prerequisite for greatness.
David is an intriguing scriptural example of God’s principle of promotion. Although he was early anointed to replace Saul as king, his first response was not to revolt against Saul’s authority. Rather, he returned to guarding the sheep he had left before his unexpected coronation.
Before long, Saul’s men recruited David to be the king’s court musician. David could have pressed his cause then, thinking this was certainly God’s way of fulfilling His plan. Instead, he simply ministered humbly and loyally in his vocation as a musician.
After David’s victory over Goliath, Saul promoted the young man to the position of commander-in-chief. If David had aspired to the crown, he could have interpreted this choice assignment as the signal for an uprising against Saul. However, he still continued faithfully in his servant role.
When he was ousted from the palace and driven into the hills, the pattern of humble submission continued. Twice David caught Saul unaware. In the twinkling of an eye he could have taken Saul’s life and assumed the throne. It seemed like a perfect setup, but David knew God would exalt him at the right time in His own way.
Even at Saul’s death, David hesitated to assume the throne.
Indeed, the men of Judah had to come to David and anoint him king of Judah. Then it was seven years before the remainder of the tribes requested David’s rule over them also.
David never advertised himself. He never “took the bull by the horns.” He never walked over another person. He allowed God to exalt him at the proper time. As the lips and hearts of others praised him (Proverbs 27:2), David was promoted.
Our promotions come in God’s time and way.
“Allow God to exalt you at the proper time”
As we work diligently and productively in our present position, God will also reward us. But it will be in His time and in His way. The pay and prestige that may come with the advancement will not result in pride but only gratitude and a keener desire to serve God by fruitfully serving others.
When promotion is granted, we can agree with this utterance of David: “Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far?” (2 Samuel 7:18). For further insights, read the following passages:
- Genesis 39
- Joshua 3:1-7
- 2 Samuel 7:18-29
- Proverbs 25:6-7
- Luke 14:7-11