We have all been there. Waiting for the next opportunity, wondering why we are being turned down for that promotion again. We have all seen those perfectly crafted Instagram accounts telling us to market, sell, and brand ourselves. Pushing us to hustle, grind and get ahead. But what if we are trying to get ahead before we are destined to? There is something to be said about a delayed destiny. If I’m being honest, my destiny had been delayed requiring several leadership trainings and two master degrees with no promotion in sight. It was delayed but necessary.
When I took a promotion a few years ago a good friend suggested I read the book titled Anonymous:Jesus’ Hidden Years…and Yours by Alicia Britt Chole. I had no idea what I was in store for, but man am I glad I did. In it, the Chole shares that “During these uncelebrated years, Jesus submitted to a seemingly delayed destiny. A God-sized mission pulsated in his heart, but he was too free to explain it, proclaim it, or actively pursue it.” That sums up my professional career. I had dreams, hopes and a plan for my future that required I wait.
For many years I grew my skill set privately. I also knew I wasn’t yet ready to lead a team. I first needed to learn how to be a leader right where I was planted. That took time. Actually...it took years. Did I enjoy being in this delayed space? NOPE! Alicia Britt Chole perfectly echoes this idea when she says, “we struggle if our dreams are delayed one year, let alone twenty!” For me, it was more like fifteen years!
When young women early in their career ask me for advice on how to get a promoted, my response is always the same, stay humble, show up, be diligent and be willing to grow. Most importantly are you willing to be hidden while others lead? Hidden while you develop your craft? Are you willing to delay your destiny until the right time presents itself?
Today’s culture doesn’t teach us that promotion comes from God. I get it. We spend an exorbitant amount of time figuring out the secret to someone else's success. When you know that God is the one that promotes you, you become good with waiting. While you wait you should be intentional in developing your craft and failing epically. Yes, failure. I am convinced that facing failure and obstacles is the only way to grow into your purpose.
In the Bible, when believers were called to grow or lead, they were busy working in some seriously low-key jobs. David was shepherding and only when his father asked him to bring food to his brothers who were at war did he step into his calling…his promotion. Elisha was driving oxen, and Moses was taking care of his father-in-law’s animals. They authentically worked through grime, danger, and embarrassment, oftentimes overlooked and underappreciated by those around them. God saw them just like he see’s you. He eventually promoted them, when the time was right.
My hidden years prepared me for this very moment. I vividly remember being in graduate school, taking the 12- month Adoption Competency Training, completing an additional leadership academy for 18 months all while working a full-time job and thinking to myself “How am I doing all of this?”
My boss and mentor at the time had an idea of the areas I needed to grow in, and she made space for me to make that happen. While in your season of waiting do you have a strong mentor or two? That season was hard and sacrificial. It required much of me with very little recognition. Now I know it was all preparation.
What those the hidden years taught me was to think through every decision. To seek advice from mentors, to pray and watch how others modeled leadership. The choices I make today reflect the choices I made during my delayed destiny.
I would like to think that my prolonged obscurity kept me from becoming my own promoter. My Hidden years “empowered me to patiently trust God with my press release.” Hidden years teach you it's ok to keep quiet and not need the approval from those following your Instagram account when God releases you into your calling. It's ok to be hidden in your purpose for a season. It's ok to wait for that promotion.
In January, God really moved me to put our adoption journey into a book. If I’m being honest, I didn’t feel ready. As I got close to the launch date I second-guessed myself every step of the way. “Who would want to read another story about adoption?” I would ask myself. Or when the time came to move my family across the country to take “that job” He knew it was time to move. More so now than ever before I never want to lose sight of this important truth: God is the one who promotes us.
I love this quote from Christine Cain which says, “Remember, if God has assigned you, he will find you. And he tends to work with those who are already working. When you align yourself with God in faithfulness and diligence, he will work on your behalf and open doors for you that no man can shut.” If you find yourself working hard but without any fame or acknowledgment, don’t be disheartened! You’re in a better place than you recognize. God is using your present to equip you for your future.