Working for His Purposes
At one point in my career, I had not been demoted, but it certainly felt that way. Our administrative help was let go, and I was asked to take on her work in addition to my own. The new arrangement was working, so there was no hope of it changing any time soon. But I grew restless and sometimes frustrated. It also began to change other peoples’ perceptions of my capabilities and my status in the organization. I considered looking for another job, but in the current economy, this was not the time.
I asked a question I often use to glean answers and direction from God: “Who in the Bible has felt this way, and what did he or she do about it?” Two Bible giants came to mind — Joseph and Moses.
Demotions, Promotions, Joseph and Moses
Joseph, Jacob’s favored son, made some mistakes that caused him to be sold into slavery in Egypt. He did well there in the beginning, but was eventually falsely accused and thrown into prison (Genesis 37). Moses, an Israelite, was raised in Pharaoh’s home, probably with lavish surroundings and a position of stature throughout Egypt. He also made some missteps that forced him to leave Egypt altogether and become a Sheppard in a foreign land, where no one knew him (Exodus 2).
Today we know Joseph as the one who saved the known world at that time from famine, and the heir of a double portion of his father’s inheritance. (The double portion is normally reserved for the first-born son). But Joseph toiled in Egypt for 13 years before he was called up from prison to interpret Pharaoh’s dream and become his second in command (Genesis 39-41). Likewise, Moses was a Sheppard in Midian for 40 years, before God called him to lead the Israelites out of their slavery in Egypt (Exodus 3).
I observed three themes in their stories:
- Both were “demoted” from a position of favor, outcast to an unknown land where no one knew who they had been.
- Both used the time diligently, using their skills and continuing to serve God.
- Both were miraculously “promoted” by God into His purposes when the time was right.
But What About Me?
My predicament paled completely in comparison. I hadn’t been cast out; I hadn’t spent years and years in exile; and I’m sure I won’t be called on to feed the world or lead a nation. But seeing how these two responded to their circumstances and how God was able to use them got me thinking.
They weren’t ready for God’s purposes when they were exiled. In fact, the positions they held before they were exiled served God’s end purposes at that time, but would not have led them to achieve the position He had for them. Could it be that during those years God was saving them for just the right time, developing them into men He could use for His purposes when the time was right? If I follow their examples, could He do the same for me?
This perspective helped to change my attitude about my job. It motivated me to continue working diligently, glorifying God with my abilities and trusting Him for my future, instead of making my own plan. After all, serving His purposes is my real goal. If this is the path He’s put me on, evidently this is part of my preparation and development into who He needs me to be to fulfill His greater purposes for my life.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24