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Five Character Traits That Elevated Joseph
In Genesis 41, we find Joseph serving as a prisoner of Pharaoh. By the end of the chapter, he has been elevated to the position of "Avrech," which means "father to the king" in Aramaic and is administrating the entire nation. As we read on, we learn that his blessing includes a restored relationship with his family. How is it that God chose Joseph to receive such an abundance of grace? Along with God's own providence, Joseph's character identifies him as a worthy recipient. Here are five elements of Joseph's character that positioned him for elevation in the center of God's provision, and their effect.
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The story begins in chapter forty, where Joseph is imprisoned and serving his master with excellence despite having been falsely accused. His character and demeanor are such that he is made DeFacto head of the prison. Even the warden did not scrutinize or challenge his work or attitude (40:22-23).
I think most of us would have different character and attitudes in such a situation, but Joseph has a secret weapon: his relationship with God. Because of this, he is confident that all will work out to God's desire, and God's desires are what his own heart desires most. His job in the meantime: keep his head down, be a model prisoner, stay focused on doing his job as well as he can, and serving others when the opportunities come. In this experience, he receives revelation and training which mature his faith and trust. It is in his workman like attention to living an honorable life in unfair circumstances that his relationship with God is made stronger.
Hiddenness is where we learn, experience, mature, and prepare. It is here that the foundation of our life is built. Build yours true, level, and square. Let your younger self serve your older self well.
When Pharaoh later asks Joseph to interpret his dreams (41:15) Joseph replies that he is not able to do so in his own power, but he knows someone who can.
Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, "That is beyond me; it is God Who will respond with Pharaoh's welfare." (41:16, Tanach)
With this, Joseph makes three points: I can't do it, God can and will, because He has your welfare in mind. That is a powerful chain of thought, and it begins with his recognition and admission that he is incapable of the task on his own.
Recognizing our limitations is one thing, admitting them, especially to someone in power over us, is another. Humility is the characteristic that enables this, not by way of meekness or falsehood, but out of honesty. It also took Joseph off the hook and put God squarely on it. We can almost hear him saying, "Okay, Almighty One. You got me into this, now it's time to get me out of it." He did.
In this instance, as in so many others, humility and honor operate in harmony with each other. With the same breath that Joseph admitted his weakness, he honored God by naming him as the only one who could fulfill Pharaoh's request. In this manner, he honors Pharaoh as well by way of introducing him to God. Through his humility and honor, he established a three-way relationship between himself, the king, and the King. In effect, he brokered a power relationship, one that he is part of.
When we honor others, even those we may not always agree with, we set a stage for partnership, activating the principle of honor begetting honor. When granted, honor gives honor, promotes access, and empowers progress.
Joseph exercised wisdom by explaining the dreams clearly, including their practical meaning and urgency (41:25-32). If he had stopped at merely interpreting the dreams, he would have fulfilled the king's request without fulfilling the King's purpose: to reveal the oncoming blessing and trial so the nation would be prepared.
Going beyond what is required of us is often a wise way to proceed, but it requires thoughtfulness. We can blurt things out, even obvious things, and end up shortcutting the blessings God intends. When we are thoughtful, searching out God's heart in a matter, then we better understand how to proceed. Doing so will often mean remaining silent and hidden until the moment comes when God releases us to speak truth and wisdom into a life or circumstance.
After interpreting Pharaoh's dream, Joseph offers a bit of wise advice: "Now let Pharaoh seek out a discerning and wise man and set him over the land of Egypt." (41:33) I think Joseph knew who that was to be. He understood his position, maturity, and standing in the heavenly realm before God, and that allowed him to operate with confidence and conviction on earth. He was not shy about proclaiming himself to the king in a way that would be instantly recognized and confirmed.
In life, we are engaged in a process of instruction, maturation, and positioning, finally being recognized for what we've become. When we focus our attention and energy on living a God-inspired life in the center of His will, he will most certainly present opportunities for us to stand for Him, to speak for Him, to minister for Him, regardless of our position in life. The moment will come, just as Joseph's did, when we say in effect; "choose someone discerning and wise, choose me." Our job is to be prepared, to recognize the moment in the moment, and to be bold in action with confidence of God's partnership.
Hiddenness - Humility - Honor - Wisdom - Boldness
These five characteristics are on the pathway to elevation and restoration, God's seal of approval on our character and life. It may come in a promotion, a call to a new service, or in a thousand other ways. You may be the world's next Joseph or its next Mother Theresa. The pathway you choose to walk and the character with which you walk it determine your destination. Choose to walk the path God sets before you in hiddenness, humility, and honor, always seeking wisdom until He is ready to reveal you. Wait on Him. It is the only right and divinely ordained path for your life, and His timing is the only right timing.