When I was growing up I had to deal with, among other things, some rejection issues and this resulted in my becoming incredibly ambitious and driven. I left school at 16 and joined the high street retailer WH Smith. My plan was to become chairman as soon as possible!! After two promotions at work God called me to ministry and during those early years of ministry God dealt with my heart and also taught me a really important principle that would help me and give me an amazing sense of peace and security….
I was reading my quiet time notes one day (UCB notes) and the text said this ‘It is God who judges. He brings one down, He exalts another.’ (Psalm 75:7). The heading was simply this: ‘Let God Promote You.’ It continued to say this: ‘If you don’t find your significance and your self-worth in God, you’ll spend your life trying to promote yourself.’ Wow! As I read these words I realised that was exactly what I had been doing as a young pastor! Worse still when others were recognised, promoted ahead of me, or given larger churches I became frustrated and, if I’m honest resentful. Not good!
I had to come to the realisation, as the verse suggests, that in God’s Kingdom, you don’t achieve spiritual success – you receive it from God (and He’s normally pretty astute at giving it when you are good & ready!)
We can learn from David. While his brothers were striving to be king and ‘get the nod’ from Samuel, he remained faithfully doing what God had called him to do then – namely to tend the sheep. We must learn to let others compete (they will), compare and criticise….our job is simply this: to be faithful to what God has called us to do now and then when He thinks we’re ready, you can be sure He’ll come and get you!
The day I read that I was feeling really frustrated. I absolutely knew that God had a calling upon my life to lead the camp that I loved in Benllech but it wasn’t happening. That day I surrendered that dream to God and made a commitment that whilst I would give my all for the Kingdom…I would let God decide the path I would take and the heights (if any) I would go to. The postscript is this: several years later, when God felt I was ready, I became leader of the camp and actually went on to lead another great camp. I also have the joy of being trusted by God to pastor a great church in a great city! God is so good!
I would encourage each one of you today, whatever context you find yourself, whether in ministry or in secular work – make a decision today…to work hard, to do your best but not to strive. Let God promote you!