I know that, according to Elder Uchtdorf, we should not seek to hide or to lead in the church. Instead, we should joyfully “lift where we stand.” Should we follow the same principle in the business world? For instance, I work at a call center and have been seeking to do really well as a sales rep so that I can move up to becoming a supervisor. My motivations are to have that on my resume, so that I can get into a good graduate degree program. Could it be that seeking to lead in the business world for resume purposes is actually fulfilling the commandment to “lift where [I] stand,” since job progression would be helping me to fulfill my current calling as husband, by seeking to better provide for my wife? Or should I leave out the efforts to become a supervisor (except of course when the time comes to apply for the position), and just do really well at my current position as sales rep, which will likely lead to becoming promoted as a supervisor anyways? Thanks,
Let’s talk about success. In the end, that’s what we all want. It’s what Heavenly Father wants for us. “For behold, this is my work and my glory [read success] to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life [read success] of man.”
It is our eternal nature to seek to improve our condition over time. A couple of questions are related to your comments. How is success measured in the eternities? and how is success measured in this life? Let’s look at why Christ has structured His church as he has. The overwhelming majority of leadership in this church is by lay, or unpaid, clergy. It isn’t even until you get to the top two levels of leadership that you reach full-time status in a calling. The living stipend for these two areas is a separate discussion for another day.
All positions of leadership are to be filled by revelation. In other words, Christ will select his own laborers, as he always has. Why is it that way? Because Christ sees people differently than you or I. He sees where they are spiritually successful, and that’s what he’s after in leadership. In many cases he selects people whom he knows will grow tremendously through the calling, though they may not seem ready for it at the start. All that Christ does in selecting his own laborers is not only for the magnification of those called, but for the magnification of those who are led. He is trying to get us all back, and he knows who will best work to accomplish that goal.
Because of this, a career track in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not useful. First of all, the church is full of very worthy priesthood holders. Many of them are quite likely on a spiritually equal level as the Apostles and Prophet. However it is possible Christ needs them where they are, rather than in Salt Lake. Also remember that it is not the callings you have held that determines your worthiness before God, but your obedience to the Gospel. That is a huge disincentive for me to seek high church office. If I can enter the Celestial Kingdom without so much as being a Sunday School Teacher, much less a Bishop or Stake President, why would I actively seek out the extra work? If I were called to those positions, of course I would want to fulfill them as best I can, but it’s not profitable to seek them out on a spiritual basis. My spiritual success does not depend upon what callings I hold, but how I fulfill the callings I receive.
Now, let’s look at the world, and how it defines success. The fascinating thing here is that you don’t have to accept the world’s definition, which is fortunate because it seems to be in the process of being re-defined anyway.
Your question is quite simple, does the Lord’s plan for individual success apply to the world? The answer is this. It can, but it’s not easy to maintain. Some people define success as being overly wealthy. Others define success as freedom from financial debt. In my experience, the Lord has allowed us the freedom to define personal success on our own. In your situation, it’s no different. Which scenario, in your mind, leads to true success? Is the promotion important enough to you to actively pursue it, or can you find peace letting it come on its own?
This is where your own personal beliefs (and those of your spouse) take the spotlight. As a couple, you have the welfare of yourselves and your children to consider, and that welfare is not necessarily improved with more income from your job. It can be, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Remember that it is the love of money that is the root of all evil. Money itself is merely a tool used to facilitate trade and commerce.
I suggest you prayerfully consider with your wife what the best course of action is for your family. Even then, the Lord may leave you to your own decision. As long as the decision is made together as a couple, your chances of real lasting success in the family and home will greatly increase, whatever your financial income is.