Six Things You Can Do to Become a More Promotable Leader

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Listen Time ~24 Minutes

Have you ever felt passed up for promotion? 

Bible leaders are reliable – they are marked by an internal and external constancy that is both seen and felt.

In this episode, Pastor Mark and Brandon contrast David and Saul and give 6 practical suggestions for how get our hearts right as we wait for God to reveal His way for us.


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Six Things You Can Do to Be a More Promotable Leader [Transcribed]

Carter: Today I’m excited for the first true episode, we’re talking about reliability and how doors rarely open if we don’t have a reputation for being reliable. This comes from a post on called the “Leadership Mistake You May Not See Coming.”  I wrote this post because I have a real heart for young leaders who are trying to move forward in their leadership walk, but maybe have some undisciplined areas that they still have to look right in the eye. Before we do that, I want to thank you for listening and if you find today’s content helpful, it would mean so much if you would consider sharing this on social media. Now I know everyone’s new at the podcast at this point; but if you’d like to find out more, you can head on over to where there’s new content posted regularly. Let’s dive right into Six Things You Can Do to Become a More Promotable Leader. Let’s do it.

My name is Mark Carter. I’m the lead pastor of Torch of Faith Church and I’m with my very favorite worship pastor, Brandon Adkins.  We can’t wait to dive in today. What are we talking about?

Brandon: They were talking about the six things that a leader can do to improve their promotability. You know, so Mark, you talked about in your blog the leadership mistake you may not see coming. You talk about reliability being the thing that holds a lot of people back from promotion and leadership, so tell me, why is reliability a problem in the church?

Mark: Yeah, you know, first, let me just say that I can empathize with feelings overlooked or feeling like I’m being passed up, you know, wanting more influence, wanting a louder voice, maybe in the organization or in the church or something like that. And I certainly know what it’s like to experience people not do well with that. So, you know, we’ve seen folks who start to give excuses for why they’re slacking, why they’re not necessarily very reliable. And it’s everything from, hey, it’s a no call no show, so much as AWOL for the day they get fleshy, hey I just needed a day to myself, is sometimes called…

Brandon: Mental health day.

Carter: Yeah, right. And you know, maybe sometimes they’re just inflexible, so they are reliable, but it’s reliably inflexible; so they can’t really do what you need them to do. And I think the sad thing is, it just holds people back; like it closes doors. It causes higher level leaders who might take an interest in mentoring that person to not want to invest in them. And I think where the disconnect is, as people need to remember, everyone has an aspiring leader; hey man, we reap what we sow and an ounce of foolishness could destroy a pound of wisdom like Ecclesiastes 10:1 says. And I think another place it breaks down is we don’t understand the spiritual results of being unreliable, so there’s like practical unreliability; I’m not doing the thing. I’m not doing my job thing, or there’s also just as the Lord views me, I’m not doing what he wants me to in my heart as I’m just walking through life. And I think Saul, King Saul is a perfect example of this; so King Saul, you know, he’s supposed to be this great leader but we find in 1 Samuel 15 he’s building a monument to himself,

Brandon: Sounds smart.

Carter: Yea! Always do that.

Brandon: Very promotable.

Carter: And while he’s doing that, at the very same moment, we see the Lord telling Samuel, I’m so sad that I made this guy King; and that’s really for us, like we need to recognize, there’ll be times you think you are killing it, and you are making a monument to yourself. And what if the Lord is sad that he even put you in that position. Because from the heart perspective, yes, people might think it’s cool on social media, but your heart is so drifted from the Lord, that he’s now experiencing sadness. And so, I feel like we’re not monitoring both of those, instead, we’re only monitoring the outer one and that’s what we need to talk about today. 

Brandon:  You mentioned the heart and I’m thinking about David too and Saul and I was thinking about when Saul needs a personal musician to come and play for him, and David is selected. His official, Saul’s officials are listing off all these characteristics and they list off all the external characteristics first, and then the last one they list is the Lord is with him; they say, he’s courageous, he’s a warrior, he has a way with words. He’s handsome, which little bonus commentary…not a lot of people know this, but handsomeness, it helps with playing music, up to 80%. It’s not intuitive if you’re not a musician, but up to 80% of sounding good as a musician is looking cool.

Carter: That explains a lot.

Brandon: So that’s why we don’t wear the skinny jeans because they’re comfortable. And then the last thing they list is, and the Lord is with him. That’s the first time they mentioned something about his heart. And so, I think our takeaway, my takeaway from that, that passages is, you know, the people who have authority given to them to promote, you know, the leader, they’re going to see all the external characteristics first. I can’t see you may have a great heart for the Lord, but I don’t see that except for what you do, to show me your heart.

Carter: That’s totally it man.

Brandon: That’s why I think reliable reliability, is so huge, and I’m excited, I can’t wait to learn more about it.

Carter: Yea man and we’ve got to care about this. It says in Proverbs 17:3, God tests the heart, and he wants to see if we’re faithful. So, the question be that we’re talking about today is, are you a leader God can trust, how much might it be costing us if we’re spiritually unreliable. Jesus was reliable, David’s unreliable, or sorry, Jesus was reliable. David was reliable. Are we trusting that as we demonstrate heart reliability before the Lord, that he’s really going to take us the wisest way, we sometimes think we just need to polish the exterior, but God’s interested in really making leaders on the inside, that he wants people to follow, not just people who may be gifted at leadership. And so yeah, that’s what we’re gonna pull apart.

Brandon: Sounds huge, man. I can’t wait. So, Mark, what are the six things that a leader can do to become more promotable?

Carter: Yeah, so I’ve kind of split these up between internal and external. So, there’s the internal stuff. And really, I believe this is where we lose it, quit the quickest. In other words, there’s my heart stuff, it’s not even something I go do. It’s something I’m thinking about, and something I’m trying to shake through prayer in my life. So number one is humble myself, like just at a very basic level in my walking and brokenness before the Lord, 1 Peter 5:6, Peter says, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He might exalt you at the proper time.”  And I feel like I mean, you and I’ve seen, we’ve walked a long time together. And so, you know, we, we got the privilege of starting the church together back in the day, and we’ve just seen a lot of awesome leaders. But we’ve also seen a percentage of up and coming leaders in the organization that are knowledgeable but unbroken. So, they kind of know a lot of Bible maybe, but they haven’t let the Lord humble them yet. And so, because of that, he can’t promote them. And yet, they haven’t considered this thing that I think we should all consider, which is, is it possible, I’m less reliable than I think I am? I mean, is it possible that if the Lord really turned me loose, I would jack a bunch of stuff up? I mean,

Brandon: Do more damage than good?

Carter: Right? I mean, think about some of the ones that we’ve even seen fall over the past few years that were a little more dramatic. You know, is it possible that if there would have been a little bit more time to shape their hearts, some of that damage might have been avoided? I don’t know. But I think we should be concerned about that. So, I think some things we can do, is ask for honest feedback. So, I mean, whether it’s your spouse, whether it’s your team, whether it’s the people that serve under you, you just say, hey man, how convinced are you that my yes is yes? Yes. I mean, you know, am I reliable in your eyes? Or am I looking at myself through a little bit of rose-colored glasses and I think part of that is recognizing that. Hey man, you might think you’re reliable, but our reliability before the Lord shows up before other people. And so, I think we’ve got to keep that in mind.

Brandon: And that sounds like it takes a while. It takes some time.

Carter: It’s gonna be patience man. It’s not a microwave.

Brandon: All right, so humble yourself, number one. What’s number two?

Carter: Yep. So, decide God is worth my best and doesn’t owe me anything.

Brandon: Oooooooooo…

Carter:  Come on man. So, you think about David, I mean, here’s a guy people know, like, he’s supposed to be king, right? I mean, not only to Samuel, but then Abigail even later is like, hey man, you’re going to be king. So clearly, people are understanding this is supposed to happen, but never once does he say, “yeah, that’s right. Yeah, like, of course, I am.” Like, there’s no entitlement that we’re sensing in David, but we have an entitlement problem sometimes with God. And I think this is what really gets us man, I think when we get into self-pity, because maybe God’s not using us the way we wish, or not as much as so and so, we need to recognize that self-pity is often a demonic attack on us.

Brandon: Say that again.

Carter: Self-pity is often a demonic attack on us, like the enemy’s trying to rope us into self-pity. We can be just like Elijah, Elijah is declaring before the Lord, “I’m the only one that’s left,” you know, and the Lord’s like, dude, I got 700 other prophets that are just fine. They didn’t bother me. And yet we can get very entitled, like, because I did x now y should it be true And we just need to recognize, especially in the culture and time of comparison, where you’re watching everybody, you can see people across the world and who knows how long it took God to raise them up or do what they’re doing, but you’re like, I should have it now. I can get discouraged by this. There’s, there’s times I’ll go faster through the social media feed just because I’m like, I gotta wrestle with that comparison. So, I think if we just decided as leaders and as servants, hey, I’m going to have the attitude, look, God doesn’t owe me anything. I’m going to be reliable before him if no one ever sees it. So maybe I’ve got a ministry that’s completely obscure and hidden. I’m going to keep doing this before the Lord, because that’s what’s reliable toward the Lord. If no one else does it and if no one else sees it, I’m going to do it.

Brandon: That’s huge man. Self-pity is a demonic attack. I love it. So humble yourself again, decide God is worth my best and doesn’t owe me anything. What’s number three?

Carter: Number three is thank God for withholding blessing or promotion if this means it’s actually what’s best for my soul and my future, and if God is doing it, it is what’s best. I think sometimes, bro, that we’re not walking in the reality that Jesus said it was dangerous to seek exaltation. He’s like, dude, you’re gonna have a humbling coming if you do this in Matthew 23:12. And I feel like I mean, you know this, we’ve done this, we’ve all done this to a degree. We’ve worn ourselves out, trying to push something that God isn’t trying to push right at that moment. And there’s grace, cause you figure that out as you go. But I mean, I remember, you know, probably 2014, we went multi-site. And it really just wasn’t God’s timing, but we did it; but we barely did it. And then, as you know, as I look at that now, I’m like, oh it’s so much easier to see how my motives weren’t totally right when we did that. And today, I praise Him ultimately, to give us wisdom to un-multisite for that season, because we weren’t strong enough to do it. But I think this is what we under think about, like we’re into doing and getting done. But we under think, look man, God is all wise. And he loves me more than I can fathom. And what that means is He is not opposed to temporarily causing a sadness, if it leads to the highest joy. So, God’s got this blueprint in heaven, that is like so complete. He so knows what He’s doing in such beyond human wisdom, His ways are higher than our ways that if we could see that blueprint, we would like trip out, we’d be like yes! Yes! What an awesome destiny that is! We would choose the very one that He’s doing but we can’t see it, and so we don’t trust them. So, we just have to trust them ahead of time. Like, Lord, I trust that everything that’s happening to me is father-filtered, I trust your timetable, I trust your heart that you know what’s coming, and you know what to do when and if there’s something you’re keeping from me; it’s because of your good heart toward me, not because of your bad heart toward me.

Brandon: That’s good. So, sounds like those first three internal ones are really there’s a lordship thing going on. There’s a Christ lordship in my life in my heart, into my leadership, where He’s really forming the character. He’s humbling me, and I’m deciding God’s worth it and I’m submitting to his timetable. I’m submitting to His version His way of promotion and that’s so counterintuitive sometimes to our leadership.

Carter: That’s discipleship man.

Brandon: Gosh, that’s like, close the deal. You know, make the decision make it happen. Let’s build it starting tomorrow. And you got to pump the brakes it sounds like to go through these first three. What’s the next one, what’s number four?

Carter: Man, that’s so good. And let me, just let me just put a little asterisk by what you just said, because it’s so true and real. And I’ve seen you do this super well; we all stumble through it. But this is the tension my friends, like there’s always this, if I’m going to be a leader, it’s all about getting the thing done and seeing super clear. And if I’m going to be a disciple, there’s this whole thing where I let go, I have no idea what God’s doing. He’s rubbing my face over the gravel, the sandpaper, you know, all the hell off of me. And that always happens at the same time, we just need to remember that we’re, we want to embrace the hard work and not just get ahead and you know, in a temporal or the earth work. So yeah, number four. And again, this is where we’re getting into the external stuff.

So, number four is, don’t shrink back. So, this is where we might be tempted to feel sorry for ourselves. And in that we begin to reduce excellence, we begin to give it a little bit less and there’s even maybe a little baby whiny thing that’s happening where we’re like, well fine God, I’ll just get off focus than and busy myself if you don’t want to do this, I’m going to get into hobbies or I’m going to get into the world, or the someplace, we’re not getting what we want. So well forget it, then I’m just gonna kind of take myself out of the race and David didn’t do that, like you never read David’s like I’m just gonna go be in a cave and no one’s going to find me, like he could have done that he could have just disappeared. But he didn’t. And so, I think we just want to, if we’re going to pass the heart test and be reliable for the Lord that means I don’t need accolades to keep doing it. I’m going to do it, whether anyone sees me, I’m going to be a grateful leader, I’m going to be a generous leader, I’m going to be blessing others doing for them what I wish someone would do for me, I’m going to have a great attitude. And I’m going to recognize that there might be a sanctification issue in me that if I like if I can’t go very long without being really discontent about where I am in life. I’m not saying there’s not a time when the Lord wants you to take some steps of faith. But when, when he’s not leading you to do that. And when it’s like, no matter what you do, you can’t break ahead to that next level, there needs to be an understanding; oh, maybe my discontent is a sanctification issue that he’s trying to heal. Maybe he wants me to not have my joy and circumstances. Maybe I need more time in prayer or I just need to pray that in my serving opportunities or my leading opportunities that I’m just more about joy in Jesus and joy in others. Instead of trying to just be somewhere I’m not and always angry about it like dude, you gotta find a way to be happy in the Lord. Like whatever you gotta do man. And the last rock we look under, is there something wrong with my heart? But that’s where we probably need to start.

Brandon: I’ve seen that show up in and how it verbalizes is, I feel like I don’t belong here.

Carter: Oh my gosh, we see that a lot.

Brandon: Yeah, like, do I belong here in this in this organization, this team or whatever. And, you know, I think you said it earlier. But self-pity is a demonic attack. I think that’s what it is when the enemy, it’s only the enemy that will show up at a church where like, the grace of the Lord is, and you’re a part of the family, absolutely hundred percent belong and submit to the idea you don’t belong here. That’s Satan’s voice. I think what you were talking about in this fourth point not shrinking back is there’s an internal resolve kind of a strength and courage where your spirit will push back against that and say, absolutely, I do. I have a sword in my hand for a reason and I’m cutting the devil’s head off.

Carter: I think there’s got to be a discipleship orientation that like, things aren’t as random as they seem right? Like the Lord is trying to cook something here. And He’s even using the enemy to try to get us to respond the right way instead of just to have like a victim give up spirit. And I know it’s hard. But you don’t get choice, you do that, or you just lie on the road and let the devil run over your face.

Brandon: Yeah, so good man. So, what’s number five?

Carter: Number five: honor and serve those above and below and around you in the Lord. Sometimes now, I’ve seen this trick a lot. You’ve seen this trick, the enemy has a way when we’re not getting what we want, we’re not getting promoted, or go in the direction or as fast as we want or open doors or influence or whatever it is. This is really dangerous when he begins to accuse those who have any kind of say or have any kind of power or have any kind of leadership over us; he can begin to accuse them and say they’re holding you back. And so I would just want to remind everybody, hey man, you need to keep serving; not for the sake of man pleasing, but to demonstrate your love and reliability before the Lord that you’re going to act like David and not like Absalom, because the enemy is always going to be there to accuse your human authority or to say they’re keeping you from something and you’re going to be tempted to roll up like Absalom, I’m just going to take it. And man, that’s a great way to get dead like Absalom. I mean, I don’t mean literally dead, but I’m just saying, man, don’t oppose the Lord like that, like, honor those who are above you don’t blame them. Because the truth is, dude, if it were God, you’d be there. You know what I’m saying? If you were ready, you’d be out of the oven, so it’s not their fault. And probably they had their own test they had to pass. And so just keep on being gracious, keep on honoring, pass the test and just say, I’m going to be found to be a reliable servant. I’m gonna serve those who are over me in the Lord. Because really, I’m serving Christ in the context of men. And if the Lord doesn’t raise me up, it’s not going to happen.

Brandon: It’s giving them way too much credit to think that a human is the problem with your promotion. Demonic. Like the Lord is sovereign over that and governing that.

Carter: Praise God, that’s so true.

Brandon: I think where I’ve seen this go well is, and I’m not always doing it, right. But when I’m getting it, right, I’m thinking about it. Like I’m going to get my leader his win. I’m going to get you, Mark, you’re my leader, I’m going to try and get you your win and even everybody else around me even the people that I lead the people on my team, I’m going to try and get them their win so I’m preferring them and really trying to honor and serve with those above and around me and the Lord. That’s humongous.

Carter: Come on, man. That’s powerful that that is it. Welcome back, everybody. This is called basic Christianity 101, you serve people, like believe it or not, that’s how it continues as well.

Brandon: These are all so good, I can’t believe we’re almost done. What’s the final one?

Carter: Yeah, number six is seek to invest in others and let God worry about promoting you higher. So hey, and we all know that leadership is influence, that’s what John Maxwell taught us all. And Jesus is right, the greatest among you will be the servant. And there’s really no other shortcut. Like, the greatest among us is those who have demonstrated long term faithful serving. So I think one of the other things that we see commonly in the church, and it’s, you know, it’s, it’s not a high percentage, but it’s a percentage, it’s a consistent percentage of folks who really are thinking like positional leaders, rather than like relational leaders; and what I mean is, they want a title before they’ve learned to serve and build into people. They’re like, if you give me a title than I can boss people around, right? And like, dude, I’m sorry, you’re still thinking about it too worldly. If you go back to John Maxwell’s Five Levels of Leadership, remember, you’ve got the first one, which is positional. And all that means is, people have to do what you say because you have a title. They don’t necessarily want to do what you say, it’s not because you’re very good, it’s not because you’re very loving, you know what I’m saying?

Brandon: Yea it’s the I am the Assistant Manager, bossing people around like I’m the CEO.

Carter: Exactly. And nobody, you know, like everyone listening has had a leader like that, like, oh my word, you don’t follow that because you want to, and we need to be the kinds of leaders people would follow because they want to, and this is where we become relational leaders. And sometimes the Lord hasn’t promoted us because we haven’t learned to do this well. In other words, we need to be investing in the people, we need to be finding out about their lives, we need to be finding out how to love them making it about them. Because really, that’s how we’re going to gain leadership. That’s how we gain weight and credibility in their lives. Anyway, my friends, you and I, we want someone who’s going to follow us because they want to, but that takes a season of training. Like we need to learn how to do that and get our minds off ourselves. And I feel like sometimes, we’re just missing that entire conversation. People want to get raised up, but I’m like no man, go back to the Jesus way, the Jesus way is you take a towel, you begin to serve. You teach people that you love them. And by the way, who do you think’s going to follow you later? Well, ideally, the people you’ve invested in, because then you know they’re going to be, they’re going to stick with you through a whole lot more than just titles.

Brandon: And the authority over you can’t, that’s the thing. They can’t give you any way, they can put your name on an org chart and give you a title and give you an office, but they can’t give you relational influence. They can’t give you the loyalty the people you’re supposed to be leading.

Carter: C’mon man.

Brandon: And that’s the thing that you can be working on. So yeah, wherever you are, whatever position you have, whatever level, you know, on an org chart or off an org chart that you have, I think what you’re saying in number six is that you can be sowing into the relationships around you right now and be an influential person in the room. And then if the Lord decides to raise you up as a leader, then you’ve got people ready to follow you anywhere, just like David.

Carter: I like this guy, he’s smart. That’s why we call them Beardy.

Brandon: So good man. Well, this is awesome. Do you have any closing thoughts for us?

Carter: You know, I think I just want to encourage people sometimes if you know like me, maybe you haven’t been always reliable. And like you, you feel like you mess something up. And I want to encourage you man, there’s still hope; don’t let that throw you too long. Because of Jesus, and because of the favor that He can put on our lives. It can take a while to correct but it’s fixable, you know, just rebuild that reputation. And the way you do that is, is bro sister first, just humble yourself. Like you just remember stability, accelerate success. And as we teach, not only people, but we pass the test before the Lord, you’re going to find me faithful, you’re gonna find me reliable, I can’t do everything, but I’m gonna do everything that I can in order to do what God has called me to do. I feel like if we can do that, God will keep moving us forward. Maybe a little faster than we thought.

Brandon: So good, man. Yeah. The blog that you wrote, the Leadership Mistake You May Not See Coming, we’re talking about right now, one of my favorite quotes from that was because of the grace of God, it’s okay to occasionally blow it, miss the mark or stay home sick. He doesn’t promote only perfect people because He doesn’t have any. That’s humongous. And I’m so thankful for that. And I think the idea you’re presenting there is you’ve got them on one hand, you’ve got this infinitely gracious God who’s absolutely you know, our imperfections are completely forgiven. And that’s like the business He’s in. And then you’ve also got on the other hand, He’s looking for promoting hard work and growing character and all those things that take time to hold.

Carter: Whew! What a God what we serve!

Brandon: Hey, so what can we do? Where can people find more information?

Carter:  Yep. So pretty much is the website where everything is so if you go there, you can get everything.

Brandon: Everything?

Carter: Everything.

Brandon: Everything.

Carter: Everything related to anything we’re talking about right now. Okay. So, but if you know, like, I’m on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter a little bit. I don’t know why man, I cannot connect with Twitter people, sorry Twitter people. I don’t know what that is, but pastormarkcarter1 on Instagram. If you go to the website, man, that’s what the blog is. That’s where you’ll find videos and that’s what will feature this post that this podcast will be based on.

Brandon: It’s a party.

Carter: It’s a party all the time!

Brandon: Sounds like a panic!

Carter: Yea, party at the panic.

Brandon: In a good way. Well, excellent.

Carter: Alright guys. Well, thanks so much for tuning in. Thanks.


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Posted on January 30, 2019

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