Feeling Overlooked in Your Workplace?
Feeling Overlooked in Your Workplace?
Wait for Advancement or Move On?
I know that we are leaders everywhere and at all times—Jesus modeled that for us. But I have an issue that I’ve been struggling with. I’ve been overlooked for leadership positions in my company, although I believe I am qualified. How can I know whether I should continue doing my best where I am, hoping for advancement, or just move on?
Leslie sent in the above question asking for biblical wisdom on how to deal with the tension she feels between her desire for advancement and feeling overlooked as a leader in her workplace.
First of all, Leslie rightfully recognizes that all of us are leaders, meaning all of us have influence in our respective spheres, regardless of our position or title. Leslie’s question also expresses a common sentiment among employees. According to a recent study of 26,000 professionals by LinkedIn, 25% of skilled employees would like to move up within the organization via internal promotion. However, the same research shows that being overlooked for a promotion is the reason why 24% of excellent employees decide to move on.
It appears that many employers are not eager to promote from within, opting instead to outsource projects to external consultants or groups. This creates an unintended cycle where employees feel like commodities, which makes them less willing to show long-term loyalty, and then employers, fearing that skilled employees will leave when better opportunities roll around, opt to outsource important work to external resources instead of investing in their internal talent pool.
Leslie feels overlooked. She feels that her employer is not tapping into her full potential. She believes she has the necessary leadership qualities, yet for some reason these are not being recognized. Leslie wants to know whether her desire for leadership role is misplaced, or whether it’s time to move on and find opportunities elsewhere.
Desire for position and promotion
All of us at some point have felt overlooked, underutilized and underappreciated. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be valued, but when the desire for position, promotion and for being noticed begins to consume us, we must take a step back and realign our hearts and minds with God’s truth.
Proverbs 29:26 says:
“Many seek an audience with a ruler, but it is from the LORD that one gets justice.”
Proverbs 25:6-7 tells us:
“Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among his great men; it is better for him to say to you, ‘Come up here,’ than for him to humiliate you before his nobles.”
Proverbs 75:6-7 clearly states:
“For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.”
Finally, 1 Peter 5:6 says: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you…”
The Scripture reveals that in our lives there are two parts to play—God’s part and our part. Our part is to work as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23); it’s to be humble and to honor the Lord with whatever our hands find to do. God’s part is to lift us up, give us more influence and provide opportunities to use our gifts and talents.
So, promotion and position should not really be our aim or focus. Doing our best, unto the Lord, with whatever we have been entrusted daily is what He requires of us, and that’s what ultimately pleases Him the most!
When we begin to seek a title to assert our position in the organization, when we wage internal campaigns to see certain title below our email signature, it’s a clear sign that our priorities are misplaced and our heart has been captured by selfish ambition.
One thing God’s Word makes very clear is that we don’t need a title or human accolades and recognition in order to be effective. Our influence and leadership are not bound by our place of employment. God can and will use us anytime and anywhere if we are willing to walk humbly with Him.
- When the prophet Samuel was commissioned by God to anoint a king over Israel, Jesse presented each of his sons who appeared to have the right resume and the right looks. Yet God’s Spirit led Samuel to David, the youngest and seemingly least desirable of all Jesse’s sons. God saw something in David that none of the people saw.
- When Jesus was seeking out disciples, He did not look for learned Pharisees; instead He called young, inexperienced guys to follow Him. Jesus purposely chose disciples whose outward credentials confounded conventional wisdom!
- Moses was most influential not when he possessed the title of the Prince of Egypt (the most powerful nation at the time), but as a stuttering fugitive in a foreign land.
If we look at Jesus, the greatest leader role model, His whole life was spent in service to His Father and to others. He never pursued titles, position or promotion. On the contrary, when able to call upon His Father and legions of angels to rescue Him, motivated by His immense love for us, He chose to endure shame and death. Jesus, through His life, death and resurrection, taught us that when we walk in loving obedience to the Father, He will use us anytime, anywhere. After all, He looks not at our outward appearance but at our heart!
Is It OK to Move On?
Leslie also asks a question about how to know when it’s time to move on to other employment. First of all, there is nothing wrong with pursuing other opportunities in order to tap into our full potential. God is less concerned about what we do and more concerned about who we are becoming in the process.
There are no neon signs that light up when it’s time to embrace another opportunity. Sometimes the open doors are clearly marked. At other times we are asked to take a step of faith without having the open door clearly marked. What we always must rely on is the leading of God’s Spirit and the guidance of His Word.
- Pray and Seek. By immersing ourselves in His Word, by listening to His voice and by presenting our requests through prayer, His Spirit will guide us.
- Be specific. Approach God’s throne with confidence. Make your specific requests known to Him. When Gideon needed a specific response from the Lord, he put out a fleece (see Judges 6). God was not annoyed, upset or offended by Gideon’s bold request. His child needed a clear sign, and He was willing to give it.
- Be patient. In 1 Peter 5:6 we are told “that at the proper time he may exalt you…” The Lord watches, He sees our work and knows the motives of our hearts. It may sound like a cliché, but His timing is always perfect. Getting ahead of God, taking things in our own hands and manipulating circumstances to get our own way, will only end in disaster. Patiently waiting for the Lord is always the best solution!
- Examine yourself first. The Scripture tells us that our heart is a wellspring of life, but it also tells us that it’s deceitful above all things. Examining our heart’s motives daily and being honest with ourselves before God can help keep our hearts pure and unstained by selfishness and self-service.
So, let’s remember, we don’t need a title or human accolades and recognition in order to be effective. Our influence and leadership are not bound by our place of employment. God can and will use us, if we are willing to walk humbly with our God.