This morning I want to talk about one more thing it takes to move forward in your Vision: Courage. – Even after you have done all the pounding needed on clarifying your vision – there will come a moment when what you need most is Courage: Courage to walk toward a difficult or impossible looking situation; Courage to take a risk.
Every significant vision the Lord births in you is going to put your courage to the test.
Let me say this another way, especially for younger leaders: There is no path with God which is void of Risk, or void of a head-on collisions with fear!
One of the greatest leaders in the Bible is Joshua. He is a 5 star military general.Joshua follows a great leader Moses – and at Joshua’s commissioning ceremony this is what Moses says to him: “Be strong & courageous. You shall bring the people of Israel into the land.”
After Moses passed away and just before Joshua enters the land, the Lord shows up and says to Joshua personally (three times in four verses) “I will never leave you, don’t be afraid but be strong & courageous.”– Even Joshua dealt with fear and discouragement. He needed a divine push to go from 40 years in the desert into the Promised Land.
Every significant vision the Lord births in you is going to put your courage to the test.
Unfortunately, many of these God-designed Visions are silently aborted.The risks seem too great. God, give that to someone else!
Let’s examine this moment of courage for Nehemiah (Chapter 2)
It’s been 4 months of prayer and planning for Nehemiah. He’s been looking for an opportunity to get involved in helping his disgraced people back in Jerusalem. Finally, that moment arrives:
Nehemiah 2:1 – “I had not been sad in the presence of the king before.” Why? Because it was illegal. In those days, no one who worked for the king could come into his presence while sad. Nehemiah risked being throw out!
Nehemiah 2:2 – “The King notices and asks Nehemiah, “What’s wrong…I see this sadness of heart?” Nehemiah’s thought, “Then I was very much afraid!” — Nehemiah is VIBRATING with FEAR Why? Because this could be explosive. He is risking everything on how he responds.
This is the Abort or Launch moment. Nehemiah can back out now and no one will know. He can silently abort God’s vision.This happens all the time.
Nehemiah 2:3 – Here’s a huge step. Nehemiah spills out the pain in his heart.
I want to suggest (I can’t be certain) that Nehemiah couldn’t have done this 4 months ago. I believe it took 4 months of Prayer, Fasting, and Journaling to clarify his pain and get a vision of how he should act.
This is similar to David in 1 Samuel 17:
Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth.” David replied: “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this Philistine will be like one of them….The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.“
Courage is a muscle which you can build over time. God had built Nehemiah’s courage muscle so that he was able to step forward when his moment arrived.
I love the NIV here: “I was very much afraid…BUT…” — But my faith was bigger than my fear.I got to the point that my faith was bigger than my fear. This is a muscle you can build over time, but you have to respond to the small steps God is directing you and not abort the vision because of fear!
Nehemiah 2:4 is a huge question, “What are you requesting?” Again, this is not a question Nehemiah could have answered 4 months ago, but now he is ready and willing to risk. Nehemiah takes a risk by asking for 3 things he asked for in rapid succession:
I need Freedom – King, I going to need some time off working for you so I can go help someone else.
I need your Favor – I need travel documents with your signature which will allow me to travel safely between here and Jerusalem
I need part of your Fortune – I need several loads of lumber from your lumber yard so I can rebuild the wall and build a house I plan to live in.
I am wondering what the others in the King’s presence must have thought. Nehemiah has been smoking something….He’s not even supposed to be sad and now he is asking the King for all this…he’s going to prison for sure!
This is a vision Nehemiah is willing to put everything on the line… incredible Courage! Nehemiah risks his job, Nehemiah risks his influence with the king, Nehemiah risks his life…..The King could have easily had Nehemiah imprisoned….
(vs. 8) – One more important detail we don’t want to read past too quickly. “And the king granted me what I asked, for…”
For, I was courageous and brave?
For, I had a great plan?
For, I am smart?
For, I took the Dale Carnegie course on how to Win Friend and Influence People – so I was successful?
No, “For, the good hand of my God was upon me.”
Nehemiah wasn’t just courageous. He also knew where the credit belonged; To God alone! This is the kind of character God is looking for to fulfill His visions.
God’s favor flows toward those whose faith is bigger than their fear and who will give God the Glory when God responds.
1.How do you react when you are vibrating with fear?What are the risks you are most afraid to take: Failure, Reputation, Finances, Safety?
2.Have you ever silently aborted something you felt like God was asking you to do?Why?
3.How would you recommend someone exercising their “courage muscle?”How does your faith become greater than your fear?
4.Do you have the habit of taking the glory for success or giving God the glory? How does that look in your life?
This year we have been traveling through the Bible looking at different leaders. From Adam to Abraham, Moses to King David. The Kingdom was split in two and eventually Israel was taken into exile. -During our last time together, Spence talked about Daniel, a young man who put God first. For our last Old Testament leader, we will look at Nehemiah.
Like Daniel, Nehemiah was in exile. Hserved the King of Babylon. Nehemiah was called by God to rebuild the broken walls of Jerusalem. He lived around 400 BC, so this was one of the last books of the Old Testament.
Nehemiah is one of my favorite character studies and was an exceptional leader. One reason Nehemiah is accessible as a leader is because there are no overt miracles; no parting of the Red Sea, no visit by an angel, Nehemiah never walks on water. Instead, Nehemiah was a man who had a passion, who worked hard, prayed, encountered criticism and made difficult leadership decisions.
Nehemiah was a regular guy who caught a divine glimpse of what could and should be. Then, he went after it with all his heart. His story is not much different than ours.
4 Key Leadership Components of Nehemiah
1. Concern/Passion: (1:2-4)
Effective leadership begins with an internal concern, some kind of passion to move forward. Nehemiah was so emotionally moved by the report about the condition of his city and his people that he mourned, fasted, and prayed for 4 months.
Passion is the catalyst which catapults you out of passive concern and into action. Vision begins with a dissatisfaction of what could and should be.
For Passion to have staying power and not just be a desire/dream requires action: 2 specific actions from Nehemiah.
First, is prayer. Nehemiah fasted and prayed for 4 months – wrestling with God with his passions.
Second, is planning. When the king asks Nehemiah, “What are you requesting,” Nehemiah immediately rips off a list of things he needs.
If God (the King of Kings) asked you, “What are you requesting?” how you would respond? What’s your passion? Have you prayed about it and planned for it?
If you read his response, Nehemiah doesn’t ask for a miracle. (God, you go do something). Nehemiah asks for an opportunity to go build the wall himself!
“Dreamers dream about things being different, leaders envision themselves making a difference. Dreamers think about how nice it would be for something to be done, leaders look for an opportunity to do something.”
2. Clarity (2:17)
I love this simplicity. The problem: “We are in trouble and a disgrace. The city is in ruins.” The solution: “Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem”. All good visions should be simple enough to communicate in a sentence or two.
3. Community (Chapter 3)
This is one of the most import chapters in Nehemiah. I counted more than 40 individual names, and more than 10 groups’ names. If you read Chapter 3 in its entirety you will notice one name missing, Nehemiah’s! Chapter 3 is when we really find out Nehemiah is a leader.
“A leader is great, not because of his power but because of his ability to empower others.”
Nehemiah empowers hundreds of people to rebuild the wall. That’s real leadership!
The currency every great team uses is TRUST. Each member has to trust that the other person on their team will do their part. They must “build their own part of the wall.” A team with not much trust, is dysfunctional.
In this year’s NCAA tournament, how many were screaming for the ball to be in Justin Jacksons hands? After all, he is the ACC Player of the Year. Imagine the trust it must take (which has to be built over time) to hand the ball to a former Walk-On to take the game winning shot!
4. Conflict (4:1-4 & 8)
As soon as they begin building the wall, they encounter conflict. Every worthwhile endeavor will experience conflict. Many times it will be right at the very beginning and you may be easily discouraged.
I have a beautifully hand written letter in my office dated February 2002 – one month before we began CCC. It says, “I feel strongly in my spirit that it’s not God’s Will” for us to start our church.
Much of your leadership success will be based on your skill for navigating conflict and discouragement. Discouragement for your passion can come in many different forms.
Concern: What concern do you have that catapults you out of passive concern and into action? Do you dream about things being different or do you envision yourself making a difference?
Clarity: What are you about? (yourself, business, church, family….) Is is clear? Could you state it in a sentence or two?
Community: In your leadership do you empower others or are you a Lone Ranger? Can you put the outcome in the hands of someone else?
Conflict: How do you deal with conflict and discouragement?
Spence Hackney did an excellent job leading us through the life of Daniel and learning from his leadership. Take a look at his lesson below:
Daniel: Who’s on Top?
For context, it would be wise to familiarize yourself with the first half of the book of Daniel (chapters 1-6).
In bullet form, here is what happens in the first half of Daniel:
Daniel witnesses the fall of Jerusalem
Daniel is taken to Babylon
Daniel has the gift of interpreting dreams, and hears God
Daniel encounters 3 Kings in his life
Nebuchadnezzar – He dreams of a statue of bronze, iron, gold and clay that would be destroyed. The dream symbolized Nebuchadnezzr’s fragile kingdom. In response, he builds a gold version and makes the people worship it in an attempt to symbolize that his kingdom would live forever. He disagrees with God’s word even though he knows his power.
Belshazzar – He throws an enormous party and serves wine using the cups from the temple in Jerusalem. A floating hand mysteriously appears and writes on the wall in response. Belshazzar is killed that night.
Darius – He makes a law that the people could only pray to him and to no other god. Daniel gets thrown into the lion’s den over this. God miraculously saves him.
Nebuchadnezzar and the other two kings were in love with themselves. They loved the power. They loved the wealth. The loved the women. They would do anything to get it. I think that Nebuchadnezzar would have had a guy like this around his palace somewhere:
Ridiculous, right? I don’t think any of us would employ someone to tell us we’re #1 before we go to work every day. But let me tell you a personal story that may help you see that it isn’t all that far fetched. This is a story of failure in my life that came as a result of believing I was #1. I wrongly believed I was on top.
First, a little background. In 2012, I went to India to work with Alpha Ministries. It rocked my life. I saw the church planters who were willing to lose everything and endure grueling torture and hardships to take the gospel over the next mountain. I felt like I was in the presence of spiritual giants. I knew what they were doing mattered and I wanted in. However, they shuttled me around in a van with the curtains drawn for fear someone would attack us, so it was pretty obvious that I wasn’t ever going to be as effective as they were on the ground. However, to grow their ministry—take the gospel further—Alpha needed prayer and financial resources and God made it clear to Tara and I that our role would be to provide both. And that we were to do it by expanding our small web design business. I’d been doing web design and digital marketing for over a decade, but had kept it pretty small. God revealed, however, that if I would scale the business up we could support ministries like Alpha in substantial ways. So, in January 2013, Proclaim Interactive was born. Since then he has grown it 25-35% a year and from 2 employees to 11. And I have to give God all the glory—He did it!
But recently it started to feel like I did it…
Last month I had a huge deal implode that I had been working on for over 6 months. The details aren’t important, but just know it would have redefined Proclaim and my own life in a big way. I was certain it was from God and then, it unexpectedly blew up in a heartbreaking way. I was dejected and crushed. I couldn’t understand what went wrong.
When I started reading Daniel a few weeks ago I saw parallels between the book and what I was living through. I could identify with how Daniel felt—dejected and crushed—as he was led away from the ruined walls of Jerusalem. Reading Daniel’s story helped me tremendously to get my life back into the correct orientation, as study of the Word often does. You see, my core problem is that God was no longer on top in my life. I had started to think of myself as #1. I had started to worship the gift and not the Giver. John Piper says that the ultimate deep sin is loving anything more than God. I had done it. Even if I would have said He was on top, I was living and thinking like I loved a whole number of other things more than Him.
As I repented and prayed through the situation, it became clear that I had slipped in several key areas:
I was proud. I had great pride in what I had done. but the truth was, I hadn’t built Proclaim, God had. Likewise it was His to do with as He pleased.
I also had substantial confidence in my own abilities. I thought of myself as wise and had begun to think of myself as the “secret sauce” that was going to make everything work out.
I had quit depending on the Lord’s guidance. Even if I looked to Him for the overall direction, I’d stopped depending on Him to walk me through the details. I thought I could handle it.
I needed to confess these things. Confession is the key to humility. I had to confess my pride (and a couple of other sins as well) before God and let Him deal with it as He saw fit. Afterward, it felt like He had done “spiritual surgery” on me.
So, as I am speaking to you this morning please understand my heart. I’ve recently blown it spiritually, but I’ve been forgiven and restored. My desire is that by being transparent about my failure, you’ll avoid it in your own life.
Let’s look at the real teacher here to learn how to keep God on top.
Benefit of Making God #1 – Hearing His Voice
Before we go further we need to stop here and say “so what.” How does putting God first practically help us? I know the Bible says to, so we should do it, but is there any practical benefit to doing this? Does it change our lives here on earth and for all eternity in heaven?
I think that the answer is plainly seen in Daniel’s life. You see, Daniel had the ability to hear God. The kings, the most powerful men in all the land, had to come to Daniel to hear what the Lord was saying. Daniel heard from God personally in many ways. He was normally able to hear God’s voice and direction without the need for a preacher or prophet to tell him.
Daniel could hear the Lord personally and directly because he put God first. Loving God more than anything else and putting Him first allows us to hear God because it restores a right relationship. We intrinsically know this is the case. If we have a relationship that is out of whack it’s really hard to truly “hear” the other person. I remember as a boy thinking that I was “hot snot” when I was 15. I was a better driver than my Dad. I was smarter than him. I knew what girls wanted better than he did. I had a cooler car than his big old suburban. I was pretty sure I was superior in every way. I remember him trying to talk to me and I would completely tune him out. Why? Because our relationship was all turned around. (Now, when I was 16 I wrecked the car, bombed calculus and got dumped by the girl, so the situation sort of corrected itself!) And frankly, I think that’s sort of what God has done that to me in the past few weeks, corrected my situation. And though I wouldn’t have admitted it at first, now I’m grateful. I’d rather have a right relationship with God than anything else. I’ll trade everything else I have to hear his voice!
Loren Cunningham, the man who founded Youth with a Mission (YWAM) and the Mercy Ships, was a man who clearly and personally heard God. You can read his story in “Is that Really You, God?” and see how God spoke to him as YWAM was forming. It’s fascinating. Whenever Loren Cunningham talks about hearing from God he says that it starts with “Acknowledging the Lordship,” which is college educated language for “Putting God on Top.” It’s that simple. If the Lord isn’t on top, you’re not likely to hear from Him reliably.
So how do we keep Him on top? Let’s see how Daniel did so that he could hear from the Lord:
Expect that failure may be required
Daniel’s story begins with failure. Jerusalem had finally fallen to Babylon. God made it clear that this was because the Israelites had cheated on Him by loving other gods. God’s people are scattered as slaves and outcasts throughout the surrounding lands. Daniel ends up in Babylon because he was deported from his home as a sort of royal servant.
I’ve had a whole bunch of failures in life, the most recent was the failed deal I spoke about. They were all heartbreaking. I am sure that Daniel was heartbroken over God’s people’s inability to obey God. However, there was amazing benefits to witnessing this failure first hand.
Failure gives us a real understanding of the misery of living outside of Christ.
I propose that it is Daniel’s eyewitness account of the failure of the Jews to love God and put Him first that defines Daniel’s life. Above all else Daniel did one thing exceedingly well. He loved God more than anything else. Period. End of story. Daniel didn’t want anything more than he wanted a relationship with God. He had seen first hand what happened when a country falls in love with something else. He had lived through the destruction. He had seen the blood on the ground. He had seen the starving babies in the mother’s arms. He had a real, visceral, tactile understanding of what it looked like to fall in love with something besides God.
Failure maintains humility because you understand that it can happen to you
Failure means you have the opportunity to give Christ the glory when He carries you through it. Christ is most glorified when He helps me, not when I help Him.
Put God first in the little things as well as the big things
This all started for Daniel because he didn’t want to violate God’s rules by eating the king’s “rich food.” I can totally see myself justifying this. “But God, I didn’t have any choice, it was all there was to eat…”
My pride started with little things. These were good things too…not evil. It was the percentage increase in this year’s P&L over last years. It was being able to give my old Jon boat to a friend. It was getting to donate significantly to Alpha. These grew into me thinking that I was pretty wise. It grew into me putting my wisdom on a pedestal and worshiping it.
Little things grow into big things.
Little things indicate that your attitude is wrong.
Little things are practice for when the big things come.
Daniel acknowledged that everything he had came from God
Daniel never tried to interpret dream without God. He stated repeatedly that God was the source of his power.
For myself, my wisdom became my power. I started to think that I earned what I had by making good decisions. Where did my wisdom come from? God’s word. Any power I had came from God.
Maybe, like me, you struggle with pride. If you need to confess it, now is the time. If you think that you are humble, ask God to search your life. Ask God to show you what you love more than Him and confess it.
Proverbs 18:12 Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.
Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
I John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I was recently convicted that men are terrible at sharing the truth about what they’re dealing with. When someone asks “how’s it going” I almost always respond with “awesome!” Many of us walk around thinking that everyone else has it all together and that we don’t, so we keep our problems all to ourselves. But this isolates us from the body of Christ. I’ve been working on being honest with those close to me and I hope you’ll do the same.
Who is “on top” in your life right now? Is there anything that gets more love than God?
What are the “little” things in your life that may be indicating that God is not on top?
What failures in your life have given you humility before God?
Do you publicly acknowledge that your abilities and knowledge come from God?
Several times it looks like it’s “over” for the Iguana. The odds of survival seem impossible. In the book of Joshua, Gideon has to lead through what looks like impossible circumstances. Gideon wasn’t perfect but his faith in God put him into the: “Faith Hall of Fame” – Hebrews 11: “By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell . . . And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, Samuel, David and the prophets…”
Gideon had to learn by Faith, not by Strength
Joshua lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. When Joshua died, there was a vacuum in leadership. (Judges 2:11-12) “The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. They abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the Lord to anger. They abandoned the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth.” This is what happens when there is no one to lead people toward God.
“Everything rises and falls on leadership, everything.”
A pattern begins to develop in the book of Judges: The people rebel against
God. They suffer, they cry out, and God sends a Judge (Military Leader) to
Judges 6:1-10: For a period of 7 years the Midianites would invade during harvest season and swallow up all of Israel’s resources. The Israelites were so afraid of the them that they lived in caves: (Read vs. 1-6a – Israel was brought very low).
This already looks like an impossible situation. (Just like the Iguana. Before anything happens, it looks like the odds are against him!) In reality, this is a great moment for God to be noticed! God is looking for leaders who will rise up and point people to Himin the midst of Oppression, Poverty & Fear.
3 Snapshots of Gideon learning to lead by Faith, not by Strength
1. Judges 6:11-16.
Gideon doesn’t start out looking like a strong candidate for leadership:
vs. 11 – Gideon is hiding
vs. 13 – Gideon blames God
vs. 15 – Gideon doesn’t see himself as capable (He is the least – and least qualified)
Yet, the main person to focus on in these verses is not Gideon – but God! Romans 8:31 – “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
vs. 12 – When God is involved, he sees things that are so much bigger than we can see about ourselves. Gideon’s self assessment might have been correct, but Gideon wasn’t adding God into his equation.
vs. 16 – “I will be with you” – If that’s true, that’s all that matters. “Be strong and courageous,” Why? “because the Lord your God is with you wherever you go!”
So the first part of leading by Faith and not by (personal) strength – is absolute trust God is in the equation. Then, impossible circumstances can be faced.
Most biblical leadership doesn’t come as a result of self-promotion. Those who tried to self-promote were told to get in the back of the line: to be servants. (The disciples – “How can we be first or great?”)
Leadership so often comes as a disruption to our plans. You see this so often in the Bible. God t-bones someone to move and lead in a different direction than they had planned. For example, Gideon was just trying to feed his family and stay out of the Midianites’ sight.
2. Judges 6:25-32
Let’s remember, what was Gideon’s ultimate assignment? His first assignment was this: to conquer the evil in his own house. 6:25-26a – “Pull down idols . . . and build on top an altar to the LORD”
This is so important as a leader. The biggest problem Gideon faced was not the Midianites, it was his own people! Recall Judges 2:11-12 – “The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals . . .They abandoned the Lord”
Before you take on external enemies, please examine potential problems in your own soul. Our leadership is often limited because we can’t lead ourselves!
Now this request by God looks like another impossible situation. The people would be happy to have Gideon expose and defeat the Midianites, but they weren’t at all interested in having their own sin exposed and defeated! This is an enormous challenge in Self Leadership – you have to make changes that will make those closest to you uncomfortable.
Gideon clearly understands the risks (vs. 27). He was afraid, and for good reason! (vs. 30). Despite his fear, Gideon was faithful.
3. Judges 7:1-22
In chapter 6, Gideon wins the internal battle. Now is the time for the eternal battle against the Midianites. Gideon does what any military leader would do, he gathers an army: 32,000 men.
(Judges 7:2) “The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with
you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest
Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.'”
What a great verse! God is basically saying: “There is a problem here. 32,000 makes this situation look possible, so I need to reduce the umber to make the situation look impossible.” Why? The answer is in the text. You will make the victory about yourself! Your salvation is not about you, so God eventually reduces the number of soldiers to 300 (<1% of the original amount.) Now it’s impossible without God.
Instead of quitting, instead of complaining, Gideon faithfully trusts God and moves forward.
How do you respond when the situation looks impossible?
Is it possible that God wants you to begin a new leadership challenge by first examining the conditions of your own soul? What might need to be cut down in your life before you can move forward?
Is there a leadership opportunity in 2017? Something God is calling you to that you might be resisting because it seems impossible?
Friends and Brothers,
Pastor, Christ Community Church
Joseph: “Jellyfish Leadership” & Staying in the Current
Phil Vischer, the creator of the most popular children’s video series ever,VeggieTales, was on the way to incredible success. However, the whole thing eventually blew up in his face.
There are so many excellent thoughts in this video. Here are some of my favorite quotes:
“I thought God will show up and save this…and he didn’t. He stood back and let it fall apart”
“Jellyfish stay in the current and trust that the current will take them where it needs to be…”
“Don’t focus on outcomes but obedience – ask: “God, what have you asked me to do today? Am I doing it?”
“Life becomes about loving others, not accomplishing objectives – that’s where you find joy.”
These thoughts are often applicable in our own lives. Sometimes doing the will of God is like being a Jellyfish; faithfully staying in the current of life even when it takes you in an unexpected direction. Today’s example of “Jellyfish leadership” will be Joseph. His flow and current of his life was often unpredictable.
Joseph was the great grandson of Abraham. He came from an extremely dysfunctional family: His father, Jacob (Israel), had 4 wives from which he had 12 sons. Joseph is the second youngest. Joseph is the golden child, the obvious favorite of his father. Because of that….he is hated by his brothers. (Read Genesis 37:2-5)
At age 17 Joseph had a two dreams, the second one confirming the first, which he believed were from the Lord (Read Genesis 37:5-11) – It doesn’t seem like Joseph exercised great wisdom in telling his brothers and father about his dreams. Let’s assume 17 year old boys in Genesis aren’t radically different from 17 year old boys today. If you were 17 and given two dreams saying that you (11th out of 12 brothers) would one day be in power over them, wouldn’t it be hard to not tell them about it?
Now if I was given these dreams at 17 years old I would:
Take the dream and start making it happen
Pridefully assume people should know this about me and start bowing down now.
Joseph did things differently. Lets look at how his dream unfolded.
Genesis 37:18-20 – The brothers throw Joseph down in the pit.
Genesis 37:26-28 – They sell Joseph into slavery and he is taken to Egypt.
Joseph might have been thinking, “In my dream I was the sun, but now in reality I am a slave!” During the 400 mile walk down to Egypt, Joseph may have recalled a story shared by his Grandfather Isaac. Isaac was told in Genesis 26:2-3 – “And the Lord appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you.3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father.”
Talk about the death of a dream. Apparently God does bless people who go down to Egypt. I’m sure Joseph had to have a similar thought to Phil Vischer: “God will show up and save me, but he didn’t. Instead, God stood back and let it fall apart.”
Joseph must have thought: My whole life if moving in the wrong direction. I’m in the wrong current! Have you ever had these thoughts?
Read Genesis 39:1-4. Joseph didn’t completely tank. Although he is a slave, trustworthiness is seen and rewarded.
Read Genesis 39:6-10. Joseph was obedient. “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” Joseph believed he was still in God’s current. He didn’t get out of the current when he might have thought he was “off stage” in Egypt. Joseph stayed in the current. What a cost!
Potiphar’s wife lied about being sexually assaulted and Joseph was sent to prison. Once again, Joseph could have thought: “My life is moving in the wrong direction”
Genesis 40 – Joseph encounters two men also in prison who have dreams. One man had been Cupbearer to Pharaoh. Joseph interprets his dream and informs the cupbearer he would be restored to his place next to Pharaoh.
“In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office, and you shall place Pharaoh’s cup in his hand as formerly, when you were his cupbearer. Only remember me, when it is well with you, and please do me the kindness to mention me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this house. For I was indeed stolen out of the land of the Hebrews, and here also I have done nothing that they should put me into the pit.” (Genesis 40:13-15)
The chapter concludes with verse 23: “Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.” (Genesis 40:23)
Genesis 41 – 13 years after being sold into slavery by his brothers, there is a significant shift in the current. Pharaoh has a dream and no one can interpret it. The cupbearer remembers Joseph and Joseph is brought before Pharaoh.
Listen carefully about what Pharaoh says: “Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”
THIS IS KEY: You have been in a pit for almost half your life, and now the most powerful person on the planet says to you, “Apparently you have some special skill in dream interpretation…”
What would you be tempted to say? What an opportunity for self promotion, an opportunity to get out of the current and grab for power, the power you think you should have, to tell Pharaoh about the dreams you had at 17.
Here’s Joseph’s answer, “It’s not in me, its in God!” Joseph has spent his life in God’s current. He does not need to be in control or consumed with self promoting.
Joseph tells Pharaoh there will be 7 years of harvest followed by a 7 year famine. He also says there will need to be a leader who can stock pile food for the next 7 years. Read Joseph’s advice in Genesis 41:33-36.
Pharaoh’s responds by promoting in to 2nd in command in Genesis 41:37-40. Here is what we can learn from Joseph. The most effective position for you to be in as a leader is in a position before God, not a powerful position before man. If you stay in the current, God will take you where you need to be.
Genesis 42 – 7 years of harvest goes by and then Famine strikes Egypt. Guess who gets hungry and comes looking for food? 20 years later, yep, Joseph’s brothers.
Genesis 50: Listen to how Joseph responds to his brothers. This is one of the most important verses in the Bible. “Joseph wept when his brothers came to him. They came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” This was the completion of the dream from when Joseph was 17 years old.
But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. (Genesis 50:19-20 ESV)
In a way Joseph could have never self directed, yet he rises to the second most powerful position on the planet! You might say for Joseph, “Life became about loving others, not accomplishing objectives – that’s where he found joy.”
Jellyfish leadership, Joseph’s leadership was about “staying in the current and trusting that the current will take you where you needs to be…” Discuss (Also, can you exercise Jellyfish leadership & still plan?)
Have you experienced: “I thought God would show up and save this…and he didn’t. He stood back and let it fall apart?” – How do you respond when it happens?
“Life (leadership)is about loving others, not accomplishing objectives – that’s where you find joy.” How does this function in your work environment?
“It’s not in me……it’s in God” – Can this realistically be a leadership trait in a culture of massive self promotion?
“While this phrase sounds very positive and affirming, you will not find “God won’t give you more than you can handle” anywhere within the pages of the Bible. It simply doesn’t exist.” Read the full blog by Aaron Armstrong.