“I thought you were a senior. You have been working here for so long already!”, my colleague blurted out during a casual chat when we were discussing a work-related case.
His words made me feel a little bit ashamed, even though I knew he had no intention of embarrassing me. He felt that if someone has been in the job long enough, a promotion should naturally come along. But sadly, this is my eighth year in my current role, and I have yet to be promoted.
It was not how I had hoped things would be. When I graduated university with a finance-related degree, I had envisioned myself rising up the corporate ladder, and had even set a timeline for my career progression. I wanted to be a senior claims assessor by 30 and a manager by 35. But here I am, past 35, and with the same job title when I first started at 28.
Over the years, I have witnessed the career growth of those around me. A colleague fresh from university was promoted twice within a short span of two years. Another colleague in the same role as me was recently promoted to be a senior claims assessor and started assisting our supervisor in allocating our daily work.
For me, the only reasons I’ve stayed on in my current role were the support of my superiors and colleagues and my familiarity with the job scope. But my colleague’s words got me thinking: “Am I in the wrong job? Am I even good enough to be promoted?”
I recalled the years when I was struggling to gain more confidence and familiarity in the job while other people were getting promoted, and I realized that I wanted a promotion because I wanted to know my worth. I was disillusioned when I felt I had missed out on a promotion, and questioned if I was in the wrong place or should have picked a career that’s more suited for my personality, like a counsellor, psychologist, or worker in the mission field. I wondered if God had made a mistake in placing me in a job where I struggle to see how it could impact or truly fill the void in people’s hearts.
But I had forgotten that my worth comes from God and who He says I am. If I had idolized career success more than Him, I would have failed to see my true worth as a child of God—and the love that God has for me.
Since then, I’ve learned that God values a quiet and gentle spirit that trusts in Him (1 Peter 3:4) and a heart that longs after Him—one that trusts that I am well loved and accepted by Him, and His plans for me is still the best even when my name isn’t found on the promotions list.
Things on earth—including our careers and our successes—will fade away, but even when I return to dust one day, I hope to be found faithful in Christ.
And I’m learning that faithfulness looks like:
- Stewarding my work as if I am working for Him (Colossians 3:23-24)
- Keeping in step with the Spirit and resting in God’s strength when I am weary
- Dying to my self-centred desires and sincerely rejoicing in the successes of those who have gotten promoted before me
- Fully surrendering myself to God’s plan for my career
Although family circumstances have made it difficult for me to move out of my current job, I’ve also seen that God had not forgotten about the desires of my heart. He has been opening up doors for me to serve in various ways in ministry. I was asked to help out in worship in my church small group, to write for a mom’s website that’s aimed at reaching out to pre-believing moms, and I’ve also had the opportunity to join an online e-mentoring team for a Christian organization.
I am grateful for how God has provided me with income from my main job, which enables me to serve in these areas He has opened up for me without worry. Had I risen up the corporate ladder, I might have been given more responsibilities to handle at work and will have a tougher time struggling to serve in these other areas.
The disillusionment I’ve faced at work also prepared me to serve more effectively in these roles. Having experienced God’s love for me in the midst of my struggles, I’ve learned the importance of being connected to God to overcome life challenges. I am now more eager to share the gospel and the hope that we have in Christ to those I have the opportunity to interact with in my areas of influence.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t continue to give my best at work or strive to grow in my job, but I’m learning to see how God has also brought growth in other areas of my personal and spiritual life, and to celebrate that. After all, God has an important race marked out for me (1 Corinthians 9:24, 2 Timothy 4:7), and my job is to run that race well and to keep my eyes on the prize that He has for me.