Do you qualify for promotion? The Bible says, “For promotion comes neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: He puts down one, and sets up another.” (Psalm 75:6-7).
A young associate pastor once asked me, “Wayne, how long should I remain under a senior leader’s guidance?” After I graduated from Bible College I was a youth pastor with Youth For Christ for about ten years. Then I went to Hilo where I remained for 11 years. I had about 25 years of ministry experience before I came here as senior pastor.
What happens when you are promoted too quickly?
If you are promoted too quickly to a leadership position, you are not going to be equipped for the long haul and your momentum will slip (red line on diagram) because the prep time was too short.
On the other hand, the benefits of serving under a senior leader for a longer period of time are priceless.
- You will develop a sense of submission to authority.
- You will understand what runs your ministry and how the church functions as a living entity.
- You will understand yourself a whole lot more. You’ll learn what motivates you and what challenges you.
- You will develop the daily disciplines of the Word of God.
- You will learn to be accountable to another person.
Then when the promotion comes you will be able to keep the momentum and sustain your ministry. (See blue line on diagram). If you can extend your prep time under a leader, please do it. This will help prepare you for the senior leader position if that’s where God is calling you to be.
If you are a senior leader and things are going south due to the lack of preparation there are options. One is to return to seminary for additional training if it doesn’t cause dysfunction in the longevity or continuity of the church.
Another option would be for you to initiate learning and seek out a mentor.
Mentoring is self-initiated. No one else can do this for you. It’s up to you to make sure that the opportunities are there and then go after them.
I have three types of mentors:
Contemporary Mentors are people whom I have contact with. They challenge my leadership and are great thinkers. Some of my mentors in this category are Jack Hayford, Bill Hybels, John Maxwell and Rick Warren.
Literary Mentors are contemporaries that mentor you through their written resources. I recently finished reading “The Radical Reformission” by Mark Driscoll and “Rumors of Another World” by Phil Yancey.
Historical mentors are people that are not alive but I sit at their feet and learn invaluable lessons. Mother Teresa and Abraham Lincoln are several of my mentors as well missionary biographies such as Hudson Taylor.
It’s best to stay under submission to a senior leader for as long a period as you can. Take the time to learn and grow in depth and wisdom. God’s timing is always perfect and when you are promoted, you will be prepared well for many years of service.