by Maj Steve Mansdoerfer, USAFR (Ret.)
Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).
“Airman, you have less than a five percent chance of being accepted into Officer’s Training School.” As I heard those words, I thought I’d have to give up my dream of becoming an officer.
I had worked hard to get my application package ready to go before the board. But I did it, leaving the outcome in the Lord’s hands.
And after twenty-one years of service, I retired as a major in the Air Force Reserve. I learned a mighty lesson about the power of Almighty God who moves beyond any obstacle. And because He is in control, I learned to leave the struggling, pushing, and prodding in His hands.
This wasn’t the first time I faced obstacles. Some were overcome, such as my promotion to major even though I had missed it on two previous boards. Some were not, such as missing the final opportunity for lieutenant colonel before I retired.
As I moved into my civilian career, I struggled not to strive for the next promotion. I was never satisfied with where I was. God slowly taught me to be satisfied where I am. I have finally reached the point where I don’t immediately look to the next step.
A Biblical Perspective
What is the biblical way to look at this? Is it wrong to desire promotion or career progression? How do we determine when we have allowed God to take complete control of our careers? When should we take appropriate steps to set ourselves up for that next promotion?
In Psalms, David speaks of the fact that God is in control of kings and their promotions and demotions. David himself, after learning of his promotion potential as a young man, spent years in the wilderness running for his life before he became king of Israel.
Joseph is a prime example of someone who struggled with the desire for promotion. Speaking to his brothers about his dreams from God caused problems resulting in family jealousy, being thrown in the pit and sold to slave owners.
Years later, after being an Egyptian slave and a prisoner in jail, Joseph was promoted to a place well beyond where he thought he would end up. Moses spent forty years hiding in the wilderness before he allowed God to promote him to the next level.
My Life is in His Hands
What does this say to us? God has every part of our lives in His hands. He knows exactly where we’re going and whether we’ll be promoted. Leaving this with Him is the most powerful step we can take.
A former boss told me, after I missed promotion to major twice, that as long as I had done everything I could do to prepare, the only thing I could do is leave the results to God.
There are no guarantees that any of us will be promoted. But we do have the assurance that we can rest in Him. We can’t allow striving to become the center of our lives. I am finally satisfied with where I am, not worrying about the next step in my career.
God knows where you are and when — or if — you will move on to the next step. He is in control.
Steve Mansdoerfer retired as a major in the Air Force Reserve in 2006. Currently, he is Finance Specialist, EDMC Greenhouse Team. He has been married to his wife, Luanne, for twenty years, and they have raised two sons, Dave and Dan.