We all go through stages of development which can prepare us for the next step. All too often, we find ourselves wanting to skip steps and jump right into a promotion which we are not yet ready for. John Eldredge wrote a great book called “Way of the Wild Heart” which details stages of development and how they inter-relate one to the other. For example, young men usually require satisfaction of what Eldredge calls a “cowboy” stage. This is a time where the young man seeks adventure to know inside of himself that he is capable. Once this question is answered, he doesn’t have to wonder if he has what it takes to fight and survive when faced with a battle to fight. He is able, through experience, to walk with confidence which eliminates the insecure over-reaction of those who are afraid because they just don’t know.
Problems arise when those questions go unanswered yet we progress in life to positions of greater responsibility. We often progress into what Eldredge calls the “king” stage where there are positions of leadership and responsibility. We’ve likely all seen the effects of a “leader” who is insecure and “leads” with fear. They are not prepared to walk in the position they have been promoted into because they did not naturally satisfy the internal questions to prepare them. We probably all also know those who go through what we often call a mid-life crisis, as well . . . another strong possibility of a life lived out-of-order.
I started practicing law as a second career and had to cycle back to the beginning; went from running a company generating significant revenues to sharing an office with two desks and two legal secretaries. So three of us with only two desks and I knew less than they did about how most everything worked. Nice big cup full of humility to drink from did me good and I can honestly say that I was postured to walk through it with contentment. I’m actually thankful for that time. That time was necessary as a foundation for what is and is to come. If I had tried to self-promote or refused to walk through what was before me, the foundation would not have been as solid.
Submission and learning are important in our training; they facilitate our growth in both wisdom and stature. How many times do we see young millionaire athletes or entertainers crash and burn? How many lottery winners find themselves with more trouble after the matching six numbers than they did before? Those instances are a result of premature promotion where the character isn’t developed for the responsibility of the position. The way to remedy it is to embrace the simple and excel in humble circumstances when given the chance to serve others. This is what paves the way towards promotion that is supported by both abilities as well as character.