Lessons from Abraham and Joseph
I asked Facebook followers for a title for today’s post. “How leaders of today can learn from leaders in the Bible,” received the most thumbs up.
Abraham stepped out when he wasn’t sure of the destination.
Genesis 12:1 indicates he left his home to pursue an uncertain destination. The New Testament indicates that he went out, “Not knowing where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8)
How many people go on a journey when the destination is uncertain? The answer is, everyone who reaches beyond life as usual.
Go with your highest point of clarity. Find clarity as you go, not before you go.
Abraham chose a course for his life, not an organization. The outcomes of major life choices are always uncertain. Use imperfect clarity to take an imperfect step toward your future.
If outcomes are certain, your life-decision is too small.
Joseph rose above betrayal, backstabbing, and neglect to become the second most powerful person in his world. Genesis 41:20
- Genesis 37:12 – His brothers plotted to kill him.
- Genesis 39:14 – He was falsely accused and imprisoned for attempted rape.
- Genesis 40:23 – He was forgotten by an official he had helped.
Leaders encounter painful relationships and tough circumstances. Give your best even if you’re opposed, unappreciated, or disrespected.
Joseph had a sense of purpose (Genesis 50:20) that enabled him to rise above adversity. It’s fascinating that his brothers plotted to take his life, but, later in life, Joseph indicates his purpose was to preserve life.
Dark days illuminate life’s purpose.
Bill George refers to these dark moments as “crucibles” in, “Discover Your True North.” Leadership success includes integrating, not ignoring, a painful past. The question is, “What are you learning,” not, “Why did this happen.”
How might leaders step forward when they lack clarity?
How might leaders deal with painful relationships and tough circumstances?
A close friend of mine has a saying he often repeats “I never learned much from the easy stuff I went through.” it is unfortunately true.
For me the sweet spot is not “no plan” it’s the reality than any plan a man authors is an imperfect plan.. when I ‘get that’ criticisms (of my plan) can be truly understood as constructive and not as threats, pain takes its place as a shaping, not a beating. I can be Joseph like when it feels betrayal has happened.
..but don’t let me pretend I’ve got all this covered, I’m still very much work in process..
Great choice today.
Thanks Ken. I think of the times when leaders do their best and face criticism as offenses against sincerity. I appreciate your perspective. The term “shaping” is important, if uncomfortable.
I have always believed Joseph is one of the best examples of leadership in all of scripture. His committment to following God, no matter what the circumstance, is a huge challenge and inspiration for all of us. Over and over he was set back; put in jail, made a slave, etc. But he never stopped obeying and God used all of these circumstances to make Joseph into a great leader. His life was full of disappointment and pain; kind of like the apostle Paul. But thats exactly how God makes leaders.
Thanks Jason. The Joseph story is fascinating and a classic story of falling from the top and rising again.
The ability to integrate negative experiences is a powerful way to elevate our ability to serve others.
Thank you for today’s lesson. Great examples that serve as powerful examples of two people who rose above what they had to endure. It would appear they were able to do such because they had a life long purpose in what they were doing.
Thanks Alan. How could we lead without purpose? The challenge is that we often get so busy doing things that we forget why we are doing them.
Dan, I look forward to reading you emails each week! By far I wanted to let you know how much I admire your commitment to share examples from the Bible! As a Christian, I truly respect and support your boldness for the Lord! The Bible has the best examples for us to learn, model and follow. It is the map of life and I thank you for your stand and truth!!! Personnally, the Lord has guided my path in education. I am now in my 42 year of education, all in the same school corporation. This is the start of my 20th year as principal at Hawthorne Elementary. Praise the Lord for His many blessings! He is faithful to His people! Blessings, Phil Talbert Principal Hawthorne Elementary School
Thank you Phil and congratulations on 42 years of service! That’s incredible.
Whether the journey is your destination or the destination is your journey, the circumstances encountered along the way shape your attitude, your belief and also reflect your commitment to a vision.
Thanks Jay. I really enjoy how you interchange the order of destination and journey. It gives me food for thought. Thank you.
Going to bed, gota work tomorrow. “However Iwill be back in the morning.” Today’s blog flows well with yesterdays ‘Solution Sat’ Comments.”
Be back in the morning my freind. “Good Night!”
Thank you SGT. Looking forward to your insights.
Very good article! I really needed this reminder!
Thank you Ruth. Sometimes we forget what we know. 🙂 … hence, reminders are helpful.
I would say Moses, his boss or Pharoh was resistant to what was right but Moses stood fast to what the mission was. Or King David, when he would mess up he always went to make it right with God first.
Not quite so sure about the message today, Dan. I’ve been a fan of the Joseph stories since I made it into the Chorus of our local production of Joseph & The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat back in the 70s. Abraham, on the other hand, is a tough sell as a stand up leader. This is the bloke, the story goes, that without question followed his boss’s command to torture and kill his son. That makes him a “yes” man with very shallow family values to me. Of course, it was all just a gruesome test of loyalty in the end, which makes it even worse. Something I’ve had reinforced for me reading your mostly excellent posts over the past year or so… Values you’re not prepared to stand up for are just hobbies!
One must realise that taking from lessons from the Bible are fine as long as they are kept in their proper context. Stepping out into the unknown or giving your best or any other advise without being founded first in God and trusting Him will be only a disaster.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge Him in all your ways and HE will direst your paths.
Thanks servantjo. Any suggestions here or on other posts must be put into a context. Glad you stopped in.
Wow Dan, this was a divine appointment for me to read! In the past year I have become very sick and I found out last week that, despite being in the military for almost 19 years and so close to a regular 20-year retirement, I’m being medically retired this year. On top of this, my wife got a call out of the blue from a former employer that she hasn’t worked at for over seven years that wants her to come back to work!
We live in the Pacific Northwest, a place where absolutely love, and are headed back to the D.C. area (where we love to a lesser extent, lol). We believe that the true reason we’re headed back there is to get plugged back into a church there that we used to go to. A church with friends that have been closer than family. We see God drawing us there, with my wife’s job as “financial support” while we live there, which also gives me a chance to relax and (hopefully) heal.
Nonetheless, the circumstances have been totally bizarre and unexpected. I have actually been finding support from Hebrews 11, Abraham, and Joseph. I feel “uprooted” from my home and being led to an area for reasons that I definitely don’t understand. God’s in complete control. He never closes a door to lead us into one that’s worse.
Thanks for the encouragement and thanks for your blog, I love reading it!