JOSEPH: Lessons for Life and Leadership
Author: Chris Pilt, Sunshine Regional Board
This term, as we’ve studied the final chapters of our Genesis study, I’m thinking upon the life lessons and leadership qualities of Joseph. He sets a good example! In Genesis 37-50, we read of Joseph’s development, from the beginning of his family-farming life in Canaan, to his authority as second in command in Egypt. No matter our age or stage of life, our background or ethnicity, or our even our roles within the CWCI ministry, these truths below are worthy of consideration.
- Remember Beauty and Beautiful Clothes don’t Define Us
Joseph’s father, Jacob, gave him a unique and varicoloured robe1. That special love-gift set Joseph apart from his eleven brothers. He was also handsome and good-looking2. But beauty and beautiful clothes shouldn’t characterize us. Joseph had a close relationship with God3, and much more strength and depth of leadership, beyond his outer appearance. He was obedient, faithful, patient, and acted with integrity.
We need to adorn ourselves with inward beauty.
- Make Peace with Hardship
Joseph was discarded as a teenager4; thrown into an empty cistern5. He was sold into slavery in a foreign land, for a handful of silver pieces6. Whether Joseph found himself in the pit, the palace, or the prison, he did not fight his circumstances. He faced jealousy, strife, betrayal, distress, trauma, isolation, relationship tension, misfortune, grief… and yet, Joseph discovered God’s peace and purpose for these difficult situations7.
We need to accept that when we come face-to-face with challenges, God utilizes hardship for good.
- Anticipate Temptation and Be Prepared
Joseph accepted a position of power, authority, and financial oversight in Potiphar’s house8. Any of these sources can inflame temptation to sinfulness. Joseph was ‘doggedly’ tempted by Potiphar’s wife. But when he was tested, Joseph made a commitment to honour and integrity9. This was because of respect for his master and his responsibility towards God.
We need to stand firm against temptation by pre-deciding on excellent work ethic and personal integrity.
- Take Opportunities to Lead
Joseph was mistreated and even sent to prison due to no fault of his own. But the Lord was with him and provided leadership opportunities, serving alongside the prison warden10. From Joseph we learn that God uses us where we are. God doesn’t always shield us from difficulties, but He walks beside us through the difficulties. “The Lord was with Joseph”11! Whether we are tertiary students, mums at home raising children, leading a workplace team, or volunteering for churches and charities, God values servant leadership in all circumstances.
We need to flourish where we are planted, using the abilities God entrusts us with.
- Appreciate Thankfulness, Yet Recognise God
Joseph acknowledged God throughout the ever-changing events of his life. When others wanted to give him recognition and compliments, Joseph deflected gratitude and glory to God. When interpreting dreams, Joseph made clear that God’s skills were on show12. The Egyptians credited success to Joseph for saving lives, because of his administration skills13. Pride did not puff Joseph up. Pharaoh set Joseph above the people and in charge of the palace because he recognised the ‘Spirit of God’ within him14.
We need to accept thanks, but also to express humility for our God-given gifts and talents.
- Place Our Trust in God’s Plans
We grow an appreciation of Joseph’s trust in God’s plans in Gen 41, where he anticipates seven years of abundance to be followed by seven years of famine. Joseph organizes the Egyptians for the upcoming difficulties. Joseph believed in God’s revealed plan, and as a result, he received insight into how to deal with the prosperity, and how to get ready for the leaner time to come15.
We need to prepare wisely for times of both prosperity and scarcity.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Show Emotion
In the closing chapters of Genesis, we read a comprehensive account of how Joseph interacted with his brothers and his father. It’s the material of musicals and movies! Despite facing family members who betrayed him, Joseph displayed kindness, forgiveness, and love. It is hard not to cry along with Joseph when he is so overwhelmed with such emotion16. Emotion under these circumstances displays loving care and sincere empathy.
We need to show vulnerability towards those we care about, trusting that forgiveness and honesty will shine through to reconcile relationships.
- See the Big Picture
Joseph affirmed his father’s faith by returning Jacob’s body to Canaan17. He chose to practically invest in the long-term promises of God – that the LORD would build a great nation in the land of Canaan18 – and bring blessings to the whole wide world19. Likewise, God in His sovereignty brings His perfect plans to fruition, despite the death of loved ones, and the devastating circumstances of our lifetimes.
We need to widen our focus and anticipate God’s masterful plans for ultimate blessing.
- Look Ahead
Have you considered attending or re-joining a Know Your Bible (KYB) group? In 2022 we’re digging into the Gospel of Mark. The theme for the 9-week KYB study is ‘Following Jesus”. As illustrated above, there is a lot to like about Joseph. However, the One we must truly emulate is Jesus; the perfect Son of God, servant-leader, and Messiah. Also hated and betrayed, Christ’s death and resurrection paid the penalty for our sins and accomplished victory over Satan, sin, and death. With this incredible announcement comes the call to all believers for faith and loving-kindness, for servanthood and cross-bearing discipleship. Surely, these are terrific truths for today…and for 2022 also!
- Gen 37:3,23,32; see also 41:42
- Gen 39:6
- Gen 37:5,9_dreams/visions; see also 41:16; 41:38-39
- Gen 37:2_17 years old
- Gen 37:24
- Gen 37:28_20 shekels
- Gen 45:5; 50:20
- Gen 39:4-6
- Gen 39:8-10
- Gen 39:22
- Gen 39:2,3,5,21,23
- Gen 41:16
- Gen 47:25_The Egyptians said to Joseph, “You have saved our lives”.
- Gen 41:37
- Gen 41:39-40
- Gen 42:24; 43:30; 45:2, 14-15; 50:17_weeping
- Gen 50:1-13
- Gen 46:3
- Gen 28:13-15