The most common worldview of people is to seek promotion and you’ll find value in yourself. The target, therefore, becomes promotion to a position where countless others are fighting for the same. We compete for a prize that fades away because once achieved, we discover it isn’t enough to find value. So we look for the next promotion to a higher position. We reach it again and again, finding it unfulfilling.
With higher positions come higher salaries, greater wealth, a greater accumulation of material positions, but still, no value once we’ve arrived at our elusive utopia. Solomon, the wisest and wealthiest king who ever lived, understood this at the end of his life. Here’s a sentence from him in Ecclesiastes 5:10 where I replace “money” and “wealth” with “promotion” and “position” to drive home this point.
Whoever loves [promotion] never has [promotion] enough; whoever loves [position] is never satisfied with his [position].
This kingdom principle contradicts the secular worldview. Instead of seeking value in promotion, like the world, we seek value in God. Value will never be found in position, wealth, or fame. Instead, value is found in the process of daily living with God. With this understanding, we’re content with our position and satisfied by God in our relationship with him. If in that daily process of walking with God he shapes our skills, crafts, and wisdom on the “potter’s wheel,” the world will take notice and promote us accordingly. Not because we sought the promotion, but because we sought God. When we value a relationship with God over promotion, he’ll choose whether to promote us or not, because promotion comes not from our superiors, but from God who exalts anyone he pleases to a higher level (see Psalm 75:6-7).
Among his eleven brothers, Joseph was the favored son of Jacob. Joseph’s mother, Rachel, was Jacob’s favorite wife above his other wife, Leah. Jacob had experienced significant encounters with God over the years and, no doubt, passed this information on to his sons. Of all his brothers, Joseph was close to God and received prophetic dreams regarding his future and those of his family.
In their jealousy, older brothers bound him and sold him to a caravan of traders en route to Egypt, and deceived their father into believing he had been killed by a wild animal. An Egyptian official named Potiphar, purchased Joseph to serve in his house. Joseph’s value in his relationship to God brought his favor on everything Joseph did. He had become so skilled in management, Potiphar promoted Joseph to manage his entire house. Joseph didn’t seek this promotion, he sought God, and God used these circumstances to train Joseph in his skills. Potiphar took notice and promoted him.
Joseph’s training, however, wasn’t complete. Potiphar’s wife attempted to seduce Joseph. He resisted her advances and fled out of the house. She then went to her husband and falsely accused him of sexual assault. Joseph’s pro-motion turned to de-motion in the confines of a prison cell. But again, his value found in God brought favor in the eyes of the prison warden. Joseph received free reign of the prison to supervise and manage all its daily activities. God was with him and gave him success in whatever he did under every circumstance. Joseph drew his value from God, not from promotion. He was content with God alone, whether in much or little. God gave him skills that brought success, which brought promotion—everywhere.
One day, the cup-bearer and baker made Pharaoh angry and he threw them both in prison. Joseph’s prison. They each had a troubling dream and when Joseph noticed their sadness, they shared their dreams with him. Dreams belonged to God, Joseph had dreams himself, and so interpreted theirs. The interpretations came to pass. The cup-bearer was restored to his position, and the baker was hanged.
Two years later, Pharaoh received two troubling dreams with no one to interpret. The cup-bearer recalled his experience with Joseph and Pharaoh sent for him. Joseph, now a highly skilled manager, not only interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams, but gave him sound advice to navigate the outcome of those dreams. Pharaoh took note of Joseph’s confidence, his wisdom, and his gift to interpret the dreams and gave Egypt to him to govern through the famine. He did so successfully, and with great skill. Not to find value through power, position, or fame—but because his skills, came by way of a daily relationship with God who systematically trained and promoted Joseph through a series of hardships and trials. Through it all, Joseph sought value in the process—day after day—content in his surroundings and circumstances, never complaining, but always happy in his God, even amidst the foreign gods of Egypt.
The world sharpens their skills and insight through their own strength and succeed in their promotions. But the difference lies in whether one possesses value and contentment in such achievements. The kingdom man or woman becomes a leader who’s promoted by the world. Not because they strive for promotion, but because they seek daily satisfaction in God. Their value comes upon the world stage by way of God-imparted wisdom and skills developed through the process of a life with God—content in whatever state they’re in, as long as God is with them. Kingdom leaders understand this and don’t strive for promotion or position. They leave that up to God because he alone promotes and demotes, and if in the process there’s demotion, as in Joseph’s case, it will ultimately serve a higher purpose. Demotion becomes the time to sharpen your skills which will prepare you for the next promotion.
If your value is found in God, you’ll walk in peace and contentment, continually trusting him for your life and how it turns out. The world says, the goal is the end. Whereas, God teaches—the process itself is the end. Today’s time with him is where the true value lies and, in time, the accumulated skills he gives you along the way will be noticed by the world and make room for God’s gifts in you.
Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men. –Proverbs 22:29