A. Law of Process: Joseph’s Leadership
Joseph was a cocky kid. He was too arrogant for his own good. Sometimes I’m reminded of myself at the age of say 17 or 18. At least the cockiness. He didn’t think it enough to be the favorite of his father, the child who received special treatment, the son of Jacob’s old age. No. Not our friend Joseph. Joseph had to rub it in.
When God gave Joseph a dream revealing that he would one day lead his family – not only his 11 brothers but also his parents – Joseph thoughtlessly told everyone about it. Not once. But he told everyone twice. His father rebuked him. His brothers were furious and wanted revenge.
And did they get it? I suppose you could say so.
Early in his life, Joseph didn’t know how to skillfully work with others. He lacked experience, wisdom, and humility – three qualities gained only with the passage of time. Joseph’s life illustrated the Law of Process. Observe how time and experience contributed to the development of Joseph’s leadership skills:Phase 1: I don’t know what I don’t know.
Everyone starts out in a state of ignorance. That’s where Joseph began. He didn’t understand the dynamics of his family. Either he couldn’t imagine how his brothers might react when he described his dream, or he didn’t care. The Scripture says his brothers already hated him; when he described his dream, they hated him even more. Joseph did and said things without understanding the consequences or interpersonal issues involved. He did not seek God’s wisdom. His ignorance cost him more than two decades of alienation from his family.Phase 2: I know what I don’t know.
It took a life-changing incident to capture Joseph’s attention and start him on the road to change. Thrust into slavery in Egypt, he began to learn what he didn’t know. He came to understand that leadership is difficult and carries a huge weight of responsibility. Over the years, Joseph suffered betrayal and learned hard lessons in human nature, relationships, and leadership. Yet God carried Joseph through all these. God used the process to mold his character, granting him both patience and humility. Eventually he recognized God as his source of blessing and power.Phase 3: I know and grow and it starts to show.
Leaders who show great skill when opportunities arise, shine primarily due God’s grace because they’ve paid the price of preparation. When Pharaoh finally called Joseph, the young man performed with excellence and great wisdom. He didn’t succeed because he suddenly got good at age 30; he succeeded because he paid the price for 13 years. Joseph’s hard-earned wisdom and discernment got him promoted to second in command of what was then the most powerful nation on earth.Phase 4: I simply go because of what I know.
During the seven years of plenty, God used Joseph as he executed his leadership plan with great skill. He filled the cities of Egypt with grain and prepared the country for a famine. But one can see how far his leadership had grown only by observing what he did during the lean years that followed. While he focused on feeding the people of Egypt, the strength of his leadership allowed him to feed the people of other lands as well. In the process, he brought untold money, livestock, and land into his master the Pharaoh’s possession. He also fulfilled the prophecy of the visions God gave him during his teens.
Every effective leader needs time to develop. But time alone cannot make someone an effective leader. Some individuals never discover the Law of Process, never allow themselves to be grown by God, and therefore remain in Phase 1 their entire lives.
Fortunately for the children of Israel, Joseph did not stop at the first stage. He grew in his journey from the pit to the palace. Yet nearly 23 years passed before he reunited with his brothers and saw God’s vision/dream to him fulfilled. At the end, Joseph realized that God had directed the process of his development as a leader, and that he had been groomed for a much greater purpose than he ever imagined as a cocky teenager.
By the time his father died, Joseph had learned to see things from God’s perspective. When his brothers feared for their lives, Joseph calmed their nerves by saying;Gen. 50:19-20
“Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about it is this day, to save many people.”
At last Joseph could trace God’s hand over all the years of his life. And he understood the Lord’s long-term plan for His people, a plan Joseph helped fulfill by growing into and being grown into the leader God desire him to be.
Source: Leadership material from John C. Maxwell.