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.
Check out the pictures we have posted on Facebook of last weekends Family Leadership Conference we held in Hickory Corners, MI. The Lord blessed and gave a very receptive group. We had awesome fellowship in the Lord. May the fruit from the conference be lasting and bring glory to our amazing Christ!
Leadership is not always what we expect. It is much more than having a position or a title. As one man aptly put it: “Leadership is influence; nothing more, nothing less.” Many people aspire to lead, but never seem to get anywhere. Others seem unaffected by the lure of leadership positions, but their influence is obvious and effective.
So how does one lead where he is regardless of position or situation. We find some interesting leadership concepts from the life of Joseph in the Old Testament book of Genesis. Joseph illustrates the vision of leadership while exemplifying the willingness to serve and wait on God’s timing to bring His purposes to pass. Learn with me from the leadership of Joseph to lead where you are.
I. The Vision of Leadership
The truth is that none of us goes anywhere without vision. Vision is the guiding star for achievement. Vision is the purpose for living. Vision is the reason for getting up in the morning. A father or mother may have a vision for Godly descendants. The Apostle Paul had a vision for Godly Christian leaders and saw Timothy as part of that vision. He also had a vision for the salvation of the Gentile nations. David envisioned a temple of worship for the true and living God. Vision begets energy, determination, and focus.
Joseph had a vision. It began as two dreams (Gen.37). And to those closest to him, Joseph seemed precocious and his dreams presumptuous. That may be because youthful immaturity led Joseph to speak too soon and go off half cocked. After all, how many siblings want to hear that they will one day bow before their brother?
Nevertheless, Joseph’s God-given dreams told him that life held more than just carrying food to his big brothers. The future God had for him held something significant in the plan of God.
I encourage you who know Christ to look beyond yourself, beyond the present, to a vision of your place in the Kingdom of God. Ask yourself; “How can I be effective in the work of God’s Kingdom? How can I count for eternity?”
II. The Frustration of Leadership
Seldom does the pursuit of a vision come without a struggle and even frustration. It may come because of the misunderstanding and rejection of others. It may come because of one’s own character flaws and failure. In Joseph’s case, it was both. As a youth, perhaps spoiled by his father’s favoritism, Joseph lacked discretion, a sense of timing, and even the respect he should have had for the older members of his family. Yes, his brothers were marked by some rather obvious flaws themselves. But their position in the family permitted them rank above that of Joseph. Deference would have been wise on his part and discretion the better part of valor. Even these qualities are important to spiritual leadership. The rivalry, pettiness, and resentment among Jacob’s sons led not just to division but ultimately to hatred and murderous attitudes. Joseph’s brothers not only rejected his vision, they rejected him, selling him into slavery and hoping to be done with him forever. Pretty frustrating since Joseph’s vision included his brothers.
And what was Joseph to think? His dream of his family recognizing his potential in the will of God seemed hopelessly lost and his vision for the future dashed. Perhaps he was just a youthful dreamer after all.
There are few better times for spiritual growth and character development than during the time when our dreams and visions crash on the rocks of circumstances. All that seemed possible is lost. And we discover what all who would lead and have influence for Christ must discover. Without Him we can do nothing. Spiritual leadership is not built on youthful zeal by self-made and untested men. It is built on the foundation of Christ like character that is formed in the furnace of affliction and a vital walk with God. As one wise man put it: “Remember, you cannot lead anyone higher than you yourself have gone; you cannot enrich anyone beyond your own actual experience of God.” D. Martin Lloyd Jones said; “The worst thing that can happen to a man is for him to succeed before he is ready.” Everything in life is preparation. God is up to things we often cannot imagine, and our cooperation with Him in these things is of utmost importance.
How long do we have to “wait around” for God to “get on the program”? What are we to make of God’s delays and the vision that is burning in our hearts? If you are thinking and asking such questions, remember you are not the first to have to wait and wade through uncertain and even frustrating circumstances. Moses spent forty years on the backside of the desert. Jacob served his conniving uncle Laben for more than fourteen years. David tended sheep for his father while his brothers were off doing more important and exciting things. Even the Apostle Paul spent three years in quiet preparation in Arabia while his vision for Christ’s church burned in his heart. Waiting is an integral part of God’s preparatory school and is part of the process by which God molds the leader into a holy vessel. Remember, the process is as important as the product, and with God, “timing is more important than time” (Ron Dunn).
Ponder these things, and the next time we will see how God vindicates those who have a vision for Him.
We have just posted the information for the 2010 Passion4Christ Summit! Check out whats new with this years Summit. Registration will begin on May 1. Space will be limited so be sure get your registration in soon. Hope to see you there.