Some pastors, especially young pastors, can be impatient for larger congregations and more public prominence. Sometimes that can be a holy impatience – a desire for greater usefulness, a passion to serve more needy sinners, a longing to develop gifts, etc. Sometimes it’s just naked vanity. However, whatever the motive, God usually keeps us waiting longer than we think necessary. Why? Perhaps He wants us marinated rather than microwaved.

In Obama, Palin met fame before they could grow, Noemie Emery traces the present frustrations and failures of President Obama and Sarah Palin to their over-rapid rise to public prominence.

Two years ago, two superstars lit up a dazzled political universe — young, stunning, lissome, and bursting with talent — and were propelled ahead of their time into prominence, after a minimal time on the national scene.

Two years later, it seems as if this has done them no favors: President Obama is widely seen as “overwhelmed” by his office, and Sarah Palin is meeting resistance establishing her credentials as a possible candidate against rivals with rather more seasoning.

Noemie argues that both would have been more useful and successful if, like Presidents John F Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, they had marinated longer in semi-obscurity before being thrust into the spotlight.

No one was scanning their words for inadvertent misstatements, or wholly involved in their glory or failure. Like wine, they matured in the dark, over time. Obama and Palin needed the six years or so of semi-obscurity they were about to embark on before ambition — and John McCain — intervened. Instead, their growth was checked at a critical moment, and, as it seems now, won’t be resumed quickly — not in the presidency as Obama is learning, or in a media frenzy, as Palin has found.

It turns out that eight or so years in this sort of semi-obscurity — working away in the state house or Senate, one of a number of solons and governors, growing into and grounding one’s natural talents — is what a good president needs.

They are famous for life; they will always have money; what they can never have back are the years washed out by destructive celebrity. “She’s been microwaved, she needs now to marinate,” somebody once said of Palin. But the time for slow-cooking is gone.

So, next time you long impatiently for a larger ministry, or look jealously at more prominent preachers, thank God that He’s marinating you in the slow-cooker, rather than letting you be frazzled in the microwave.

  • Steve Hall

    It seems that in this marination process that the under-shepherd begins to think less of himself and more of Christ. In the normal maturation process of a shepherd, he growingly becomes more suspect of himself, and more consciously reliant upon Christ.Maybe it is through this process that God guards more of us by not being lifted up before we learn that “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness” (Psalm 115:1). Could it be serving in obscurity may be more grace work than normally perceived by the natural eye?

  • Bernard Howard

    I feel this point is very true and very helpful. God is so patient in the raising-up of his workers. Judges 13:5 says ‘you will conceive and give birth to a son… he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.’ Such patience! He is willing to wait while we go through the marination process – are we?