Success God's Way

01 Nov 2021 8:56 AM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

Joseph had to pursue God’s definition of success even when everything around him appeared to be headed for failure. Joseph was not being treated as number one when his father sent him to check on his brothers and the flocks in Shechem. Joseph was his father’s errand boy at that point—a messenger, or in our terms today, a guy in the mailroom. He was at the bottom rung on the ladder, asked to do a task that any servant could have done for Jacob.

Was Joseph a success in his search for his brothers? Yes, but not entirely by his own ability. He found his brothers with a little help from a man he stopped to ask along the way.

Was Joseph a success when his brothers responded to his arrival by throwing him into a pit, intending to leave him for dead, and then later deciding to sell him as a slave to a passing band of Midianite traders? Yes. On what basis was he a success? He continued to trust God and to live as a person of honor and integrity. How do we know that was his response? Because the Bible says he served Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and captain of the guard, in such an honorable way that Potiphar knew “the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a successful man” (Gen. 39:2). Potiphar took as a sign of Joseph’s success that the Lord made “all he did to prosper in his hand” (Gen. 39:3).

Was Joseph a success when Potiphar’s wife attempted to seduce him and Joseph refused her offers and ran from her presence, leaving his garment behind—an act that resulted in his being falsely accused and sent to a place where the king’s prisoners were confined? Yes, Joseph was still a success. How do we know? Because Joseph continued to obey God in the prison, and the Lord “showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison” (Gen. 39:21). Joseph was put in charge of all the prisoners and had great authority in that prison “because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper” (Gen. 39:23).

Was Joseph a success when he interpreted the two dreams of Pharaoh’s butler and baker? Yes. His interpretations of the dreams were right on target.

Was Joseph a success even though the butler forgot his promise to tell Pharaoh about Joseph for two long years? Yes. Joseph continued to trust God, and when the time came for Joseph to interpret Pharaoh’s strange dream, he was ready. The Lord revealed to him the meaning of the dream, and in a day, Joseph went from being a prisoner to being the number–two man in Egypt. Pharaoh said to Joseph,

Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you … See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt. (Gen. 41:39–41)

Certainly Joseph may not have felt successful when he was on a journey into slavery in Egypt or when he was cast into Pharaoh’s prison. But in God’s eyes, Joseph had not failed, and God’s purposes for him were continuing to unfold. Later, when Joseph had an opportunity to provide again for his father and brothers and their families in a time of severe famine, Joseph concluded,

God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. (Gen. 45:7–8)

Joseph knew that the Lord had planned and provided for his success.

What is the general success pattern that we see in Joseph’s life? It is a pattern of vision followed by years of faithful preparation, trust, and obedience resulting in years of service, authority, and reward.

We see this pattern in the lives of a number of Christian leaders through the centuries. Many men and women can say, “I had a dream when I was a child,” or “God placed this on my heart when I was just a young teenager,” or “I felt the call of God on my life when I was just a youngster.” These same men and women spent years in training, studying, and preparing themselves, and perhaps even years of work and ministry—sometimes in very small churches, in out–of–the–way mission stations, in rural areas, in menial tasks for a ministry organization. And then the time came when God seemed to say, “You’re ready now. I am moving you into the limelight. I am bringing you to the forefront. Now is the hour for which you have been prepared.

Charles F. Stanley, Success God’s Way (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 2000).

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