Praying and Working for the Welfare of Others
The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did… Potipher put him in charge of his household…the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptians because of Joseph.
At the tender age of seventeen, Joseph was clearly gifted and trustworthy. But he wasn’t a polished product. We know he wasn’t the most diplomatic communicator, which, in part, led his half-brothers to sell him into slavery. That event launched a series of successes and setbacks, and produced a resume that reads like a playground see-saw:
- Most favored son of God’s chosen man, Jacob; experienced shepherd and trusted confidant
- Sold into slavery by his own brothers, might not always work well with others
- Purchased by the captain of Pharaoh’s royal guard; captain’s house prospers under Joseph’s management
- Imprisoned for attempted rape, falsely accused by the captain’s wife
- Appointed by the prison’s warden to manage the prison’s administrative affairs
- Successfully interprets dreams by two members of Pharaoh’s staff, but not compensated as promised
- Pardoned by Pharaoh after successfully interpreting Pharaoh’s dream, predicting famine and providing Egypt’s ruler with a strategic response plan
Incredibly, we find Joseph in Genesis 41 promoted by Pharaoh to head Pharaoh’s court—“Joseph was in charge of the entire country of Egypt” (Gen. 41:43). It’s not the path any political scientist would ever predict. But the pattern is clear: regardless of place or circumstance, pray and work for the welfare of others, for in their welfare you will find your welfare.
Joseph models what God calls for in Jeremiah, and what James Davison Hunter more recently has described as “faithful presence,” that posture that resists the temptation to frame and strategically promote our interests against an opposition culture or constituency. Rather, faithful presence within culture and society commits the church as a community to maintain our distinctiveness as God’s people in ways that serve the common good, even when our efforts attract opposition and persecution.
We can trust God to make sense of our resume. He is the author. Our hopes, goals, and expectations must travel through him, always lived out in the context of his people. God is working through our obedient exercise of Spirit gifts and professional skills, and, as Joseph’s life reminds us, his purposes stretch from countryside pastures to household financial services firms, from prison administrations to the halls of political power. May he find us there and find us faithful.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTIONS: What will it mean to be faithfully present at work today? How can I frame today’s program and project goals and expectations differently, making sure any sense of personal interest is wrapped up in a commitment to the welfare of those I am working with and working for?
PRAYER: Father in heaven, we begin our day humbly recognizing that you have called us out of exile ourselves. We are grateful and we belong to you. In this in-between time of “now but not yet,” help us to see what you see, hear what you hear, and desire what you desire for the peoples and places where we live and work. May your Spirit soften our hearts and strengthen our wills that we may sustain the good work you have called us to. May we represent you well, pleasing and honoring you in all we say and do. Amen.
Leadership Influence: Beyond the Stereotype
When we think of “leadership” or “influence,” we often get the image of a person of arrogant swagger, always self-confidently willing to tell people what they ought to do. And we naturally find such an image unseemly. This is not the image of Jesus, the most influential person who walked the planet. Neither is it the image of those we truly admire and can name were the most influential people in our own lives. In this series at The High Calling, Leadership Influence: Beyond the Stereotype, we feature stories of how people can be influential in ways that really matter.
Featured image above by Phillip. Used with Permission. Via Flickr.