I get a warm glow in my stomach whenever I hear people say things like 'promotion comes from God' or 'do you see someone man skilled in his work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank' (Psalm 22, verse 29).
Those words are a great comfort to my ears because it sounds like God will hand me my promotion on a silver platter. That new role I am eyeing at work? Yip, all I have to do is pray about it and with minimal sweat, tears, and effort—on my part—God will present it to me in a neatly wrapped parcel.
The world tells us we might have to backstab our colleagues and try to score brownie points with our superiors if we want to be promoted. To be honest, that sounds like a frightful lot of work to me, so the idea of relying on God to promote me at the right time seems like a better option.
If I want to be a good writer or a journalist, all I have to do is read The New York Times on a regular basis, pray every day, and develop my writing skills on the side and my next big role will drop from heaven.
I held this belief until I applied for a role with a regional newspaper. Suddenly I was tested until breaking point (well, I felt like I was about to snap at any second). But unbeknown to me, those tests were God's way of moulding my character until I was ready to be 'promoted'.
I soon learned God's idea of a promotion did not come with a big pay cheque and a nicer, fancier title.
God's idea of promotion
When I was offered a reporting role at the satellite office of a daily regional newspaper, in a town of 11,000 residents, it hardly looked like a promotion. There were minor adjustments I had to get used to: shops closed on midday Saturday, all-day Sunday, and the nearest mall was an hour's drive away.
I also had to learn how to drive a manual car. I practised on paddocks, bunny-hopped my way around town, stalling at intersections, each time gripping the steering wheel like it was a lifeline. Working for a daily newspaper with its daily deadlines, scoping out hard news, was difficult.
I remember cold-calling someone for a comment after a tragic car accident, only to have the person breaking down in tears at the end of the phone the minute I introduced myself.
Yup, it did not look like a promotion at all because if it was from God, things would have gone swimmingly, right?
God works in difficult situations
Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and wrongly imprisoned for years before he was promoted to be second-in-charge after Pharaoh. Moses was a shepherd in the boondocks before he was called to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. The chances of me being put second-in-charge of any nation or called to lead a large group of people are second to none.
But I know God has His own plans for me, and He first needed to mould my character before handing me with more responsibilities.
Maybe at this moment you're in a situation you'd rather not be. Maybe life was going very well, and suddenly you feel like it's spiralling out of control. Whatever your situation, know that God is working.
CS Lewis says:
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.
Going through a difficult patch in life is no one's idea of fun. I certainly did not enjoy the rough ride I had to endure during my time at the regional newspaper. But in hindsight, I am so thankful it happened.
Throughout the process, I found good, solid friends who were there for me. I learnt I was brave enough to handle the uncomfortable things that came my way (driving a manual car, contacting a family after a tragic death). Above all, I know that trials and tribulations may come, but we are more than conquerors (Romans chapter 8, verse 28).
God's idea of a promotion is very different to the world's, but going through God's training programme far outweighs any personal development session a corporate workplace puts together.
Michele Ong is a former regional news journalist with a passion to be a voice for the marginalised and disenfranchised. Writing is as essential to her as breathing, and believes words contain life which is to be used to inspire, inform, and influence readers. Michele attends Auckland's City Impact Church with her family on the North Shore.
Michele Ong's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/michele-ong.html