On a warm, arid night, under a star-filled sky, a young shepherd boy named Joseph dreamed of eleven sheaves of grain bowing down to a twelfth. Divinely inspired, this dream would trigger a series of events spanning the next twenty years of his life, culminating with Joseph placed in a role of great influence and leadership.
At seventeen-years-old, there was little about Joseph that marked him as a leader. Regardless, God looked at his humble and devoted heart and chose him to save his people. And like all of God’s chosen leaders, Joseph’s journey was paved with suffering and redemption.
You may remember Joseph for his coat of many colors, given to him by his father, Israel. Joseph was Israel’s eleventh and favorite son; creating tension among he and his brothers. Tensions were so high, in fact, that soon after Joseph prophesied his future rule his brothers sold him into slavery. He would eventually find himself a slave in Potiphar’s house, a captain of Pharaoh’s guard in Egypt. Over the next ten years, Joseph would rise to the top of his station, be accused of attempted rape, and be unjustly imprisoned.
Undeterred, Joseph would soon be granted authority over the prison. There, God would again use dreams to influence Joseph’s future and establish his good reputation, this time through his gift of dream interpretation. Years later, he would be summoned from prison to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams foretelling God’s plan of wide-spread abundance and famine. Joseph would amaze Pharaoh with his humility and wisdom and at thirty-years-old, would be placed over all of Egypt.
If I’m honest, Joseph’s life sounds more like a horrific game of chutes and ladders than a shining example of leadership, but there is one aspect that captivates me: Joseph’s leadership positions are not achieved through happenstance or striving but through his utter dependence on God’s presence. Like a forerunner to Christ’s example of servant leadership, I believe Joseph’s humble heart and full dependence on God teaches us that true leadership is positioned by God and purposed for others.
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This article was originally published on MorningByMorning.org. To read more of what Joseph’s example teaches us about true leadership, click here.