Work

I was passed over for promotion six years in a row

Esther Lim // August 21, 2018, 4:34 pm

At work

It’s been six good years since I started working as a social service professional.

The work is tough but I’m always grateful to have good bosses and colleagues. It may sound crazy, but I look forward to work everyday and I believe that my work is my ministry and calling.

I remember when I first entered the industry, I told myself I wouldn’t covet titles or promotions. I just wanted to serve and work well to glorify God. I began my career with pure motives and a heart that wasn’t self-serving.

To be honest, it wasn’t that difficult until my third year. But as the years went by, people who joined the organisation after me were promoted one by one.

From now on, I’ll do the bare minimum. Since no one is going to recognise my work anyway, why bother to give my best?

Something within me was shaken.

I began to wonder when my turn to get promoted would come. I started to wonder if there was something wrong with my performance … but what was confusing was that my appraisal grades were generally above average. So I didn’t understand why I didn’t make it to the list.

I felt divided. I began to ask God if it was wrong to desire a promotion and have my hard work recognised, but God was silent on the matter.

In the meantime, I’d be triggered throughout the annual promotion period. I felt a deep sense of injustice – unappreciated for all the hard work I put in. And what would people think of my work performance if I didn’t even have a single promotion in six years?

So whenever promotion period came around, I would find myself looking for other jobs and sending out resumes, but God seemed to close all the doors. It seemed like there was something God wanted me to deal with first before making any changes in my situation.

That got me even more frustrated with God.



Promotion season ended several months ago and I didn’t make it to the list again.

I had a lot of bitter words for myself: From now on, I’ll do the bare minimum. Since no one is going to recognise my work anyway, why bother to give my best?

I wrestled hard with God because I couldn’t come to terms with it. But then He spoke to me through the Word.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.” (Colossians 3:23-25)

God reminded me that I was not to covet other people’s portions. I had to learn to be secure in my own calling, not jealous of my colleagues who were promoted year after year. Because though I was happy for them, I had a toxic and envious heart that wasn’t honouring God.

And God convicted me that I should continue to give my best at work, even if it seems like no one appreciated or recognised my hard work. After all, my work is indeed His calling for me – that reason alone is sufficient to justify always giving my best. I am serving the Lord, not men.

God told me that He sees all my work.

It is not true that my efforts had gone unrecognised. God will reward me – whether it’s in this life or paradise. He reminded me that the world is temporary.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt 6:19-20)

… my work is indeed His calling for me – that reason alone is sufficient to justify always giving my best. I am serving the Lord, not men.

Finally God reminded me that He does not play favourites.

One of the things that was eating me up on the inside was wrongly believing in the lie that God has favourites … and I wasn’t one of them. But the truth is we are all equally loved by Him and made in His image. I had let the Devil deceive me that my promotion wasn’t happening because God preferred others to me.

When I finally grasped the truth that God doesn’t play favourites, I felt a great sense of freedom and was released from the bitterness. What I’ve learnt is that God is not just interested in our work, He is more interested in refining our heart and character.

As we continue to walk with God, let the Spirit reveal areas that are offensive to Him (Psalm 139:24) and transform us to be more like Jesus each day.