Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Life / Leadership Lessons from Prison

As I plow through the Bible in 2010, I hit Genesis 39-42 yesterday. This passage is about Joseph is prison after being falsely accused of hitting on Potiphar's wife, and his release from prison after Pharaoh finds out that he can interpret dreams. Some lessons that I think apply to leadership and life in general seemed to leap off the page at me. Rather than keeping them to myself, I thought I would share them in case one or two others of you can benefit:

Don't Let Circumstances Define You
Joseph was in prison. We are not told how long he was in there, but it's probably safe to assume it wasn't an overnight stay. He was put there after being a pretty important guy in Egypt. He could have let the experience sour him to life and embittered him toward God, but he didn't let that happen. He continued to follow after God and be faithful to him. We will experience hurts in life; while they will shape us, they don't have to define us.

Remember Who's Really In Charge
After Pharaoh heard about Joseph's ability to interpret dreams, he pulled him out of prison because he had been having some strange dreams. When he asked Joseph to interpret them, his reply was that he couldn't do it, but that God would. No matter how talented or gifted you are in your area of ministry, expertise, or leadership, stay humble and remember that the only reason you are that way is because God graced you to be.

Always Speak The Truth (Even If No One Wants To Hear It)
Joseph shared his time in prison with two other guys: a cupbearer and a baker. They each had weird dreams that they asked Joseph to interpret. The cupbearer's dream was a favorable dream, and Joseph told him so. The interpretation of the baker's dream was not so favorable: the interpretation meant death for him. Joseph did not try to sugarcoat the interpretation; he simply told him the truth. Sometimes its tempting to try to only make the people we work with, for, or over feel good and happy - because we don't want to offend or hurt anyone - when oftentimes, what they really need to hear is the truth, even if it hurts.

When God Opens a Door, Walk Right Through It
After Joseph gives the interpretation of Pharaoh's dream to him, which involved seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine, he kept talking and told Pharaoh what he should do about it. Pharaoh didn't ask for his opinion, but he gave it anyway. As a result, Egypt - and more importantly, Joseph's family, which would ultimately produce Jesus - were saved. There are situations in life when people will not ask our opinion, even though we may be able to see things more clearly than others do. Don't be afraid to open your mouth and share your opinion. It may be just what we need to hear.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?


Holly, formerly known as Alice said...

That was extremely wise and inspirational Michael, I mean Joseph....well written and explained.

Fitz said...

Thanks, Holly...