When You Hit Your Ceiling, Knock Out Some Walls.
It can be hard to climb the corporate ladder in the church world.
Some would argue that you shouldn’t. After all, we’ve seen the lure and the defects of celebrity Christian culture. “Climbing a ladder” has no place in a kingdom where Jesus took on the form of a servant.
Some would argue, “What’s the harm?” After all, God has lavished us with gifts that he intends to build others up. Why wouldn’t we maximize our gifts so that we can equip the most saints for the work of the ministry?
(By the way, Dave Harvey’s Rescuing Ambition does a great job of exploring these tensions.)
But beyond the “should we / shouldn’t we?” questions is a matter of practicality: how do you keep moving up a ladder once you’ve hit your ceiling?
Some second chair leaders have no business (or desire) to sit at the head of the table. Some church staffs have no vacancies that would allow for others to move up. And some team members are gifted and satisfied right where they are, and to move up would feel like a demotion.
So what do you do when you’ve hit a ceiling? You knock out walls.
Don’t strive to move up. Start to move out. Rather than seeing how high you can climb, see how widely you can serve. Instead of adding another level to your silo, poke your head over your cubicle wall and see how you can add value to another team member.
One of the most empowering bosses I’ve ever worked for is fond of saying, “Stick your nose in where no one has asked you to.” That’s not an instruction to overreach or overstep, but an invitation to be a servant wherever I can find a space to serve.
Maybe you feel frustrated in the place where you are. Maybe you’ve been told “not now” when you’ve asked to take on responsibility or to take on a new title. Maybe you’ve been passed over for a better opportunity yet again.
Don’t let that frustration paralyze or demoralize you. Instead, let it catalyze you to take on the posture of a servant. Better, let that posture define you for the rest of your life. That way, no matter how high you climb, you’ll still carry the mark of humility.
You’ve hit your ceiling…at least for now. Now it’s time to knock down some walls.