Joseph attended God's School of Leadership Training from age seventeen until age thirty. God's educational program lasted thirteen years and consisted of three courses resulting in three separate grades. He couldn't precede to the next course until he passed the previous course. How'd he do?
The first course: The Passage of Time
God spoke to him in a dream when he was just seventeen years old and then confirmed it in a second dream. Thirteen years pass as he waits. And he waits some more. He trusts in the Lord the entire time. Everyone around him recognizes the peace of God upon his life. This first course was to teach this future leader how to wait upon God. With seven years of devastating worldwide drought ahead of him he would need this life skill. Waiting teaches future leaders that faith and scheming don't mix (See Isaiah 64:4). Grade: A+
The second course: The Problem of Suffering
Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and sold, first to a band of traders, and then again, to a wealthy Egyptian. Tough stuff for a favored child! If that's not enough he is falsely accused of sexual harassment by the boss' wife and wronging thrown into prison. While there he is forgotten by a fellow prisoner who forgets the prophetic word Joseph gives him about his restored position in Pharaoh's house. Joseph remains in prison for two more years. Time flies when you are having fun but drags on and on during suffering; although Joseph wasn't having fun he remains faithful. Suffering teaches future leaders perseverance and godly character (Romans 5:3-4). Joseph would need plenty of both for the years ahead of him. Grade: A+
Third course: The Place of Forgiveness
Think of the people that Joseph had to forgive: his brothers, his boss, his boss' wife, and Pharaoh's cupbearer. Betrayal teaches future leaders to see the redemptive hand of God even in the pain caused by others. Joseph would need to demonstrate tenderness toward others as the second in command of a suffering nation. Grade: A+
The Word of God tests you too. Are you waiting on the Lord or fretting and scheming? Are you rejoicing in your suffering or complaining bitterly? Are you holding a grudge against someone or forgiving them graciously and freely? Your becoming a leader depends on how you answer these questions. How are you doing? Joseph reveals a heart of complete forgiveness when he asks Pharaoh for the best part of the land for his father and brothers. Those who forgive and see God in the midst of their circumstances offer the best to those who've hurt them.
Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
1 Chronicles 1:1-23; 7:1-5, 30-40; Genesis 46:19-25-47:12
- Describe Joseph and his father's reunion.
- Why does Pharaoh show such generosity to Jacob and his sons?
- How does Jacob describe his life to Pharaoh?
- What does Joseph, his brothers, and their father learn about God over the past twenty-plus years?
Unforgiveness robs people of leadership potential. Ask the Lord to pinpoint people in your life for whom you wish less than the best because of residual bitterness or unforgiveness.