From the Pit to the Palace.
The Old Testament story of Joseph is a great example of what can be learned in the pits…about life, relationships, leadership and money.
In the eyes of some, Joseph had a pretty tough life. But from my seat, he was a very blessed person who, through higher vision, supreme preparation and unnatural strength, endured hard places and bad circumstances and consequently came out on top…big-time! Come with me to discover his most valuable lessons, as he went from pit to palace back to the pits and ultimately got a big hand up to the mountaintop.
A Series of Pits
It all began when Joseph boasted to his brothers and parents about the dreams God gave him. His reward was angry, jealous brothers who threw him in a literal pit, then pulled him out only to sell him into slavery. And, they covered it all up by lying to their father, telling Jacob that a wild animal had killed Joseph.
Things got worse! Joseph’s slave owner turned around and did a flip sale…resold him for a nice, quick profit. You know what I mean, right? Like good, savvy people who practice the destructive model of life and leadership…which says it is more blessed to profit and look out for #1 than it is to care for others. But, because of God’s favor on his life and the character and skill set that God gave Joseph, he rose from that pit to be put in charge of all the business and household affairs of the slave owner. God was with him, preparing him and prospering him greatly for greater purpose. I love how Joseph guarded his heart and remained unspoiled by enormous success.
HOWEVER, things took yet another turn for the worse. The slave owner’s wife had eyes for handsome Joseph. His strength of character assured he resisted temptations and refused her repeated advances. But, she knew what she wanted and did not give up. She eventually lured Joseph into her pit…read: bedroom. When he fled, she grabbed his coat and used it to support her fabricated story of rape. Her angry husband had Joseph thrown in prison…out of the palace into another pit!
But, God continued to prepare, be present with and prosper him. Joseph consciously chose to continue to be at peace and serve others well. He was faithful in very difficult places and strove for excellence to please God, not to gain the applause of people.
For example, when another prisoner needed someone to understand his feelings, needed to feel needed and needed to be encouraged that he was not worthless because of his past failures, Joe was “da man”! In his total dependence on God, Joseph was also able to interpret the dream of that prisoner who was soon released and restored to his position…but forgot about Joe. Joseph's reward? More pit time!
That is, until one day the king had a dream no one could interpret. His long released buddy told the king he knew just the man. Summoned before him, Joseph again showed his total dependence on and continual interactivity with God. When he prayed for insight, he was rewarded with the dream interpretation. When he shared it, the ruler (Pharaoh) was quite impressed.
The Bible says that the Spirit of God gave Joseph the following interpretation: Seven years of plenty would be followed by seven of famine. Besides that forecast, another important part of Joseph’s interpretation was that Pharaoh was to find a wise man, set him over the land and let him appoint officers to lead a pioneering initiative …take up a fifth (20%) of the harvest in the seven plenteous years…planning and preparing during those to be able to have seed corn for future planting and navigate the seven coming years of famine.
Guess what? Pharaoh picked Joseph and he went from the pit to the palace instantly!
Note: One of the often overlooked lessons in Joseph’s story is that God expects us to represent him well…to steward our leadership roles, money, talents, time and all resources he gives, by his blueprint and as his agent, for his benefit and according to his directions.
The Laws of Interactivity and Preparation
Exceptional leaders live and lead interactively co-operating with God…Great leaders are visionaries who see the future through God’s eyes and plan, prepare and navigate there in interactive partnership with him. From my new leadership book.
Joseph dreamed and lived out God’s bigger vision. He wasn’t satisfied with just playing it safe. Because He listened to and walked with God, Joseph was prepared by God to see what others didn’t, see farther down the path than they and see in time to plan, prepare and navigate what God showed him lay ahead. Joseph’s family and an entire nation would have perished, had he not listened, caught God’s vision and used God-imparted wisdom, revelation, discernment and discretion to creatively plan, prepare and navigate.
Because of God’s vision, preparation, peace, presence and favor and Joseph’s extraordinary faith in and submission to God’s leadership, Joseph’s earlier dream came true…Pharaoh put his signet ring on Joseph's hand and at age 30, took him from a series of pits and made him ruler over all the land of Egypt…second only to Pharaoh.
Joseph then followed God’s plan and fulfilled his ultimate God-purpose. Plenteousness ended, famine began, but in Egypt, there was bread. Joseph opened storehouses and sold to the Egyptians. And, people from every country came to buy food and seed corn. Among those were his estranged brothers. Rather than taking revenge, Joseph showed us how godly character returns good for evil…he made sure they, their families and his beloved father, Jacob, were well taken care and given the best of everything, including choice land.
Being responsible with and wisely managing God-given resources requires commitment to truly important purpose and careful planning. From my best-selling book: 7 Laws of True Prosperity (Click here to View the Book)
Bottom-line, Joseph followed God’s lead and his Servant model of life and leadership. He practiced The Laws of Interactivity and Preparation. He was prepared by God to be God-centered, God-guided, God-reliant and others-oriented. God, people and healthy relationships were his priorities. He was not fazed by personal lack or spoiled by personal prosperity. When days of humiliation turned to a life of position, power and material plenteousness, pride did not take the place of humility and self-will did not supplant God’s will. He did not think he existed to be served or that personal security and gain are God’s reasons for planning and preparing. He knew caring for others and accomplishing the greater good are why God prepares us with the character needed to fulfill his plan for our lives.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you, do you good, give you hope and a future. —The Old Testament Prophet Jeremiah
Any of us can be a Joseph-like individual and leader. He was really just an average guy, not a visionary or intellectual giant, not born into royalty or wealth but into a very dysfunctional family. Despite all the good and bad that happened to him, Joseph soared because he interactively co-operated with God, developed Christ-like character, received and applied God’s wisdom, revelation and love and emulated God’s goodness, kindness and compassion.
Another way of saying that is, Joseph was prosperous at heart. His internal being was wholly well. That internal state and its godly attitude showed up in every role of his life. His godly character (heart) and faith assured God's hand of favor on all he touched and accomplishment of his God-purpose. Prosperity of heart like his releases the prosperity of God in all life dimensions and allows the power of God to be displayed in our lives, relationships, leadership and resource management.
Joseph showed us that that state of heart and being ready, available and prepared by God to partner, pioneer and navigate life with God is essential to responsible and productive living and leading and critical to achieving all our possibilities. He demonstrated that being prepared by God and committing our efforts to the Lord precedes achievement of plans. From Joseph, we see clearly that it is in valleys that God prepares, equips and empowers leaders and followers with the character, motivation and skills necessary to be elevated from pits to mountaintops.
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About the Author
Cecil O. Kemp Jr. is the award-winning author of 27 books and a sought after leadership mentor, life coach and keynote inspirational speaker. Click here to learn more about him, and here to inquire about booking his services.