When we last looked at Joseph’s life, we learned that leadership is not about position. Leading wherever you are requires a God given vision and the willingness to face the frustration of that vision by God’s grace. But God will bring in His own time:
III. The Vindication of Leadership
According to Leon Wood, “One of the hardest lessons for Christians to learn in any day is to wait on God for the time God sees right to bring aspects of His work to reality.” It is said, “Good things come to those who wait.” But sometimes we wait, and wait, and do the right thing, and nothing seems to happen. In Genesis 39, we find a faithful Joseph learning much as a servant. He was a faithful man, but his faithfulness is met with false accusation and demotion. Not many things can blunt the edge of Godly influence more than false accusation; especially the sexual kind. That is exactly what Joseph faced, and he had no opportunity for appeal or explanation: just prison and the opportunity for more valuable lessons in leadership. Here is the place the wise leader in training learns to rest in the providence of God. The role of Providence is indispensable to the training of a spiritual leader. According to Romans 8:28, God is orchestrating all things for our good. Joseph had to learn this, and so do we. But the only way to learn this is by experience. We have to go through it. There are no short cuts in God’s providential dealings with us. Joseph’s time in prison was not wasted. His diligence and faithfulness along with God’s blessing on his work positioned him for the next step in God’s unfolding plan. His experience in prison gave him opportunity to minister to others (Genesis 40); even if their forgetfulness and ungratefulness left him ostensibly unrewarded again.
But Joseph was about to see the hand of Providence bring his vision to fruition and the vindication of his obedience. We do not get to see all the ways God uses us in our own lifetimes. But we do often get to see it in some measure. David did not build the temple in Jerusalem, but he was able to lay the groundwork for its construction. He did so by seeing the materials gathered for it and by instilling the vision in his son Solomon. Paul saw the beginnings of Gentile conversion, but it was only the beginning. Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). He is still waiting to see “God…bring aspects of his work to reality”. And He will see it.
In Joseph’s case, the Lord allowed him to see his “dream” come true. He had learned the lessons of precocious youth and premature communication of a God-given vision. He had learned to lead faithfully by the power of influence and God’s favor, without regard to position. Now, in God’s timing, Joseph saw God bring the full “aspects of His work to reality” (See earlier quote from Leon Wood). From Genesis 40-48 we see the vindication of Joseph’s God-given vision and the reward of his faithfulness.
While we must not presume that God will do for us exactly what He did for Joseph, we can be convinced that He will unfold His will for us in His timing and vindicate our obedience in ways that please and glorify Him. What more could we want or ask? And we must learn as Joseph did that leadership is not primarily a matter of position but influence. And our influence grows, not by our presumptuous pursuit of personal glory but by our own growth in Godly virtue and pursuit of selfless service. God can and will bless these no matter what your station in life. You can lead no matter who you are if you commit yourself to such a life. You must be willing to humbly pursue your vision while waiting on God’s timing and serving those He brings into your life. You must have a firm confidence in the Providence of God and how He will use people and circumstances to mold you and prepare the way in ways you cannot know. You must refuse to be frustrated in the day of small things realizing that “with God, timing is more important than time”(Ron Dunn). You must trust God to vindicate your faith and vision in the way that pleases and honors Him. Not all of us will be asked to lead. But all of us can lead by the power of our influence wherever God may place us.