Leadership promotion comes either through human intervention or the supernatural aid of God. Biblical and recent history proves how often we get it wrong. For churches, parachurch, and non-profit organization, choosing leaders takes prayer, wisdom, and discernment.
At times, I have blamed hindrances to personal promotion on human restrictions, rather than seen them as acts of God’s grace. At other times, God boosted my area of influence or ministry capacity when I felt least prepared or qualified.
When God gives leadership promotion, the results are obvious! God sees with equal clarity the present and future, our inner reality and outer facade, one’s natural limitations and supernatural faith. He advances ministers and ministries in indisputable ways.
King Nebuchadnezzar enrolled Daniel, an exiled captive, into a rigid three-year training program. The candidates for this elite opportunity possessed specific qualities.
“… Israelites from the royal family and the nobility —
young men without any physical defect, handsome,
showing aptitude for every kind of learning,
well informed, quick to understand
and qualified to serve in the king’s palace.”
Daniel’s commitment to God, the true King, added to his resume of qualifications. He was “resolved not to defile himself” by eating and drinking things opposed to his religious standards. (1:8) “God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning”, as well as “visions and dreams of all kinds.” (1:17)
The king recognized gifting! God decided on anointing!
God multiplied Daniel’s natural gifts! At the end of the training period, the king personally interviewed each candidate.
“The king talked with them,
and he found non equal to Daniel,
Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah…
In every matter of wisdom and understanding
about which the king questioned them,
he found them ten times better than all…”
This was Daniel’s first leadership promotion, but not his last. He remained humble, submitted, and dedicated to God despite severe opposition. God unequivocally propelled Daniel to the forefront.
Judas suicide decreased “The Twelve” to “The Eleven”. Together they were “constantly in prayer,” (Acts 1:14)
“… Peter stood up among the believers
(a group numbering about a hundred and twenty)
… it is necessary to choose one
of the men who have been with us the whole time
the Lord Jesus was living among us,
beginning from John’s baptism to the time
when Jesus was taken up from us.
For one of these must become a witness
with us of his resurrection.”
Acts 1:15 & 21
Through prayer, Peter caught God’s plan of replacing Judas. Unfortunately, human reasoning took over! Surely 120 people, constantly in prayer, couldn’t get it wrong. So, they nominated two candidates for leadership promotion: Joseph and Matthias.
After much prayer, Matthias, whose name means “gift of Yahweh”, was added to The Eleven. Matthias, though a gift, wasn’t God’s chosen! God’s choice was absent from the list of elect candidates. God’s choice was on a personal rampage, killing and imprisoning new believers. Until God held a face-to-face confrontation along the Damascus Road!
“And last of all (Jesus) appeared to me also,
as to one abnormally born.
For I am the least of the apostles
and do not even deserve to be called an apostle,
but by the grace of God I am what I am,
and his grace to me was not without effect.”
1 Corinthians 15: 8-10
Matthias fell into obscurity! Paul received undeserved leadership promotion in an organization he hated — writing 14 letters included in the Holy Scriptures. Quite the difference between man’s choice and God’s chosen!
“Korah … Dathan and Abiram …
became insolent and rose up against Moses.
With them were 250 Israelite men,
well-known community leaders
who had been appointed members of the council.”
Picture it! Moses and Aaron on one side. Powerful and influential leaders, on the other — 250 delegated spokesmen! Over a million men, women and children witnessed the mutiny. Accusing Moses and Aaron of exerting too much authority, they forcefully expressed their opposition!
These were not rag-tag back-benchers! These men formed the spiritual and civic leadership of the nation. All were members of the ruling council!
Several times God pressed against the agitators to bring order out of chaos. Nothing was working! Finally, He gave Moses an indisputable plan,
“Speak to the Israelites and
get twelve staffs from them,
one from the leader of each of their ancestral tribes.
Write the name of each man on his staff.
On the staff of Levi write Aaron’s name,
for there must be one staff for the head
of each ancestral tribe.
Numbers 17: 1-2
Each tribal leader brought his staff — the symbol of his identity, authority, and ministry. A man’s staff was more than a piece of wood! It bore lasting generational significance.
“Place them in the tent of meeting
in front of the ark of the covenant law,
where I meet with you.”
Each man surrendered his ministry, calling and gifting — hope for future generations, laid first in Moses’ hands, then in God’s. With the names of each written on his staff, there would be no disputing the results. All that long night, their staffs lay hidden before God. He alone would decide leadership promotion.
Similarly, we too lay our hopes and expectations, visions and calling, gifts and abilities before God. In surrendering our rights, we allow God to determine the duration of hiddenness, trusting Him to bring forth His divine purpose.
“The next day Moses entered the tent
and saw that Aaron’s staff,
which represented the tribe of Levi,
had not only sprouted but had budded,
blossomed and produced almonds.
Then Moses brought out all the staffs
from the Lord’s presence to all the Israelites.
They looked at them,
and each of the leaders took his own staff.”
Can you imagine that moment? Take your staff Simeon — dry, bent and worn. Look at yours Reuben — rubbed smooth. Barren! Check yours Dan — fruitless as before! Each leader “took his own staff.”
The Presence of God brought supernatural fruitfulness to one man’s staff, while leaving the others still dead. Each man needed grace to accept God’s decision, whether chosen or left. God publicly revealed His irrefutable choice for leadership promotion.
Lay it Down
All leaders require grace to lay down and pick up the “staff” of either promotion or limitation. Not once, but continually! Setting everything before God’s Presence! Graciously and humbly “owning” our staff — living or dead.
Those who by ungodly promotion, via self or others, press beyond their God-given parameters become disqualified. God invariably exposes all interior motivations. Even publicly if necessary!
I relate to the eleven tribal leaders as I lay my “staff” before God. Will He return it without substantial change? I have vision for more! Prophetic words over my life declare more! Yet, the timing is God’s. The position and dimensions of my influence remains His.
I’ve been deceived to believe that the right people with the right gifts, accentuated by the right training program, makes great leaders. I’ve slipped into the faulty, half-right, totally-wrong, reasoning of Peter and others in making leadership decisions.
If only God would mark his “Daniel” ministries clearly, propelling them ten times better than all others. Perhaps if there were more Damascus Road conversions, we would recognize God’s choice. Or maybe if every “Aaron” ministry would stand out with miraculous growth and fruitfulness, discerning leadership promotion would be easy.
Or maybe not!
“This I know:
the favor that brings promotion and power
doesn’t come from anywhere on earth,
for no one exalts a person but God, the true judge of all.
He alone determines where favor rests.
He anoints one for greatness
and brings another down to his knees.”
Psalm 75:7-9 TPT
There is one thing for certain, God’s choice is often not man’s! One option remains! Continually place everything before His Presence, trusting Him with leadership promotion.