Why Pain Comes Before Promotion
- By Joseph Mattera
- Published 09/28/2009
Joseph Mattera has been in full-time ministry since 1980 and is currently the overseeing Bishop of Resurrection Church in New York.
Known as “a leader’s leader,” Joseph is also a virtuoso on the guitar. He has received formal education in Kingsborough Community College, Elohim Bible Institute, received ministerial training from The International Christian Center, and has received an honorary diploma from Zion Bible Institute. Joseph earned a Doctor of Divinity from the Christian Leadership Seminary, participated in BILD (Biblical Institute for Leadership Development), successfully completed a one-year certificate program with the Wilberforce Forum, and has earned a Doctor of Ministry from Bakke Graduate University, with a concentration in Biblical Worldview and Urban Ministry.Joseph and his wife Joyce founded Resurrection Church in 1984. A multi ethnic congregation of 40 nationalities, Resurrection Church has developed and sent out high-impact leadership and numerous non-profit corporations that have greatly impacted nations and the New York region, such as Children of the City (COC regularly ministers to more than 2,000 at-risk children with counseling, after school programs, tutoring, mentoring, and other holistic ministries) and The Ekklesia Leadership Institute (which held intensive monthly seminars and week-long summits with a focus of raising up the next generation of leadership with a Christian world and life view).Joseph also has hosted his own radio show “Light Your City” and a weekly cable television programs “The Ekklesia.” He is a regular contributor to Christian newspapers, and through the years has given numerous radio and television interviews and press conferences, including guest appearances on TBN. His first published book Ruling in the Gates was released in April 2003 and has already had international acclaim.
In recognition of his years of faithful service and significant influence, numerous local and national bishops and apostolic leaders consecrated Joseph to the Office of Bishop on April 29, 2006.
Joseph, his wife, Joyce and their five children live in Brooklyn, New York.
In my 31 years as a Christian I have often noticed most of my emotional and spiritual growth has come during times of intense pain and challenges to my leadership.
Most of us would love to grow merely from the accumulation of information. But the truth is that we need to experience our revelation in order for it to transform our inner being. That is why I tell people all the time we cannot grow only from attending Bible studies and saying prayers; we must live these studies and prayers out in our lives so we can grow!
There is even a growing trend in academia to combine practice with knowledge since practitioners have more knowledge of their subjects than folks who only view data all day on computers. “Practitioner research” produces the only kind of data we can trust. This is similar to how generals and armies can only become adroit and gain true battle skill by being engaged in actual combat, and how medical doctors will never learn only by taking classes but must practice on real people in order to be proficient! I would never want to be the first patient a medical doctor ever operates upon to gain their skill! This is why doctors will never tell their patients what kind of real experience they have until they have a good track record of actual patient practice!
In regards to pain, there is something about the human brain, specifically the feeling of pain and pleasure that connects these experiences to cause us to choose certain behavior patterns. When I was a child and touched a burning stove I learned from that painful experience never to do that again! No matter how many times my parents told me not to do that I had to teach myself the hard way!
As a Christ-follower I have learned when I put first the Kingdom of God, all the things I need are supernaturally given to me. But when I put my fleshly desires first all hell breaks loose and I pay the consequences. These negative experiences are for the purpose of aiding me in my spiritual growth. Sometimes, God allows painful experiences to take place in our lives even if we did not do anything wrong since He knows it is part of the preparation to get us to the next level. The reason for this is because the human heart is deceitfully wicked and desperately sick (Jeremiah 17:9) because of our sinful nature. Unfortunately, the only way we sinful humans will walk in brokenness and humility is through learning by suffering in our flesh (read Daniel 11:35).
I have rarely met a young minister who didn’t think he was ready to be a great leader with a great title. But I have met quite a few older, wiser ministers who have learned to die to the goal of achieving great ministry celebrity status because they have learned through pain how truly fleeting are all those things the world regards as successful!
Biblical case in point: David was anointed King of Israel in 1 Samuel 16, but he wasn’t actually given the title and function for more than a decade later, after King Saul died. (In 2 Samuel 2 David was anointed King of Judah, and in chapter 5 he was anointed King over all Israel.) David had the gifts, abilities, and anointing to be king when he was 17 years old, but it wasn’t until he suffered pain for 13 years due to the persecution of a flesh-driven, egocentric king that he was emotionally ready to ascend the throne!
Oftentimes young people are frustrated in life because they think they have the ability to stand in a certain position that someone else has above them. But these young people do not understand that, because of our sinful nature, God has to use the school of pain to prepare us for promotion!
I don’t believe God has ever promoted me when I thought I was ready! Thank God He has waited until He knew I was ready for more responsibility! God loved David so much that He didn’t want him to be a king until he had every semblance of fleshly authority beaten out of him! It has been my experience that, before God promotes me to the next level that I am already walking in that higher level anointing and authority, but without the position and the title. I have the anointing first, but then come a series of challenging tests meant to beat the flesh out of me so I don’t explode with pride when I get to the next level! The transition has to take place internally before it ever manifests externally.
When a woman gives birth to a baby she has a beautiful baby living inside of her for nine months before the baby ever appears on the public scene! Not only that, but right before the baby is born the greatest trauma to the mother takes place while she is pushing that baby out! Many a minister has quit while on the delivery table, giving up because of the pain before the baby has a chance to be fully formed and pushed through!
May God help us to fully push through the pain until His promotion comes!