How Do You Handle Not Being Top Dog?

Have you ever left a meeting your boss led and thought, “I could have done better than that?” Or have...

Have you ever left a meeting your boss led and thought, “I could have done better than that?” Or have you ever thought if I would have led that project, it would have been much more profitable or successful?

If we are honest with ourselves these thoughts can quickly flood our minds as we are too often focused on our next promotion. Of course, part of this pursuit is healthy as it creates drive and ambition and keeps us pursuing excellence in our work and working towards higher performance and greater results.

Numerous times in my career I have been frustrated that I am not “the man” or “top dog”. I want people to see I am the best and most sought after for my insight and ideas. To be viewed as the change agent, the thought leader, etc, etc…

The reality is not all of us will become top dog within our company, but we all have the opportunity to become excellent in our current position, which can then promotes us to bigger leadership roles.


Top Dogs in the Bible

Looking at the life of David in 1 & 2 Samuel, we see how David journeyed from being a shepherd to the King of Israel. He learned early on how to live well in the present and eventually that elevated him to the top.


Here are a few lessons we can see from his life:

Prepare well

David took his current job seriously and gave his best effort – not just in hopes of the next promotion, but simply because he knew the current role required his best. He began as a lowly shepherd boy risking his life to protect the sheep from lions and bears, in the harsh summer and winter conditions. Personally, I would have been giving a subpar effort, frustrated with my current situation and responsibilities.

David was being prepared for a much bigger job and since he stayed diligent to his current role, he was ready for his next big assignment.

Patience and honor

With the defeat of Goliath, David’s stock increases. At this time, David is also King of Judah and he and his army are defeating enemies left and right. The crowds begin to notice and even have a song they chant, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands!”

Momentum is building for David to be promoted above his boss Saul, but David remains patient and honorable. Even when Saul tries numerous times to kill David, he continues to honor Saul. David even spares Saul’s life when he has an easy opportunity to kill Saul while they are in a cave (1 Samuel 24:3).

Pursue God

All throughout David’s journey he continues to pursue God for strategy and direction. So often, I get tripped up here. I start to experience breakthrough, things are going my way and I begin to rely on my own strength. I forget to stay connected to God. Finally when I do stumble I then turn to God, but only after striving on my own first.

What is noteworthy of David is he has ‘defeated his ten thousand’, but instead of relying on his own competency he continues to ask God for guidance in battles.

In 2 Samuel 5:19, David asked God both if and when he should defeat the Philistines and God tells him to ‘go up now’. Later in verse 23, God tells David to ‘go around’ the mountain. As David consistently pursued God, He continually received wisdom and clarity for the road and battle ahead.


Climbing the corporate ladder can be both fun and challenging with a roller of coaster of highs and lows. However, if we truly want to reach our greatest potential we need to enjoy the season we are in and prepare well for the next season in front of us.

So while in your current season – do your best to honor the leadership in place, remain patient, and most importantly pursue God in your everyday work. There’s more He has for you as long as you make the most of where you are today!