5 Secrets to Greatness
True greatness is rare. (That’s part of what makes it great!) Which is why it’s so refreshing to come across a great man who stood up for truth, purity, honesty, and sacrifice. I’m talking about Joseph. I’ve recently been studying his story in Bible. (You can read Joseph’s story, too, in Genesis 30-50.) Joseph endured trial after trial—hatred from his brothers, slavery, false accusation, and imprisonment—and yet he continually trusted God. And the Lord worked through him in every situation.
You very likely know the story of Joseph. If you don’t, though, here’s the story at warp speed:
-- Joseph was his father’s favorite son.
-- He was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers.
-- He was purchased by one of Pharaoh’s military leaders.
-- Joseph was accused of trying to sleep with his master’s wife.
-- He was thrown into prison and kept there for many years.
-- When the head baker and head wine taster for Pharaoh were thrown into prison with Joseph, they both had dreams which he interpreted correctly (or rather the Lord did it through him). Joseph, though, was forgotten until one day when Pharaoh had a dream and none of his wise men was able to interpret it.
-- The wine taster remembered Joseph.
-- Joseph was sent for, and he interpreted Pharaoh’s dream.
-- He explained that there were going to be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine.
-- Pharaoh was so pleased, he placed the former prisoner in charge of the entire kingdom!
-- Joseph worked hard, storing up grain until the famine hit. When it did, he was ready and the people of Egypt were spared from starvation.
-- His brothers appeared, looking for food because the famine spread beyond the borders of Egypt. They didn’t recognize him, and, after putting them through several tests, he finally revealed to them who he really was—their brother!
Whew! We just covered a lifetime in twelve bullet points. I told you it was gonna be warp speed!
There are endless lessons we could learn from the life of Joseph. Here are five of my favorites.
1. Give your best wherever you are!
Joseph worked hard when he was a slave, and he worked hard as Pharaoh’s second in command. He put everything he had into every job. He held back nothing. God blessed him, and he was given commanding positions of authority in every area of his life.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men (Colossians 3:23).
2. Great men [and women] show humility.
Joseph did not take the credit for anything. Instead, he gave it to God. Joseph acknowledged to Pharaoh that interpreting the dream was not his own work, but God’s. Genesis tells us multiple times that “whatever [Joseph] did, the LORD made it succeed” (Genesis 39:23).
James 4:6 promises, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” We see this played out over and over in Joseph’s life.
3. Sometimes in life we need to wait.
After Joseph interpreted the head baker and wine taster’s dreams, they were released and promptly forgot about him. (To be fair, the head baker was hanged, so he didn’t have much opportunity to talk about Joseph.) Joseph stayed in prison for two more years after that! That’s a long time to wait!
God often asks us to wait on something, and the wait feels like it takes FOR-EV-ER! But we have the choice to wait well and use the waiting time to grow closer to God and serve Him.
Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! (Psalm 27:14).
4. Circumstances in our lives may not be what they appear.
Joseph’s circumstances seemed pretty horrible at the beginning of the story. But part of what made Joseph great was that he had the perspective to see that God uses each and every thing that happens to us for His glory and for our good! Joseph told his brothers in Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”
5. Be bold rather than bitter.
We may not always feel like life is “fair.” We can either choose to be bitter or we can choose to continue to live bold lives for Christ. Joseph didn’t allow circumstances that could have made him extremely bitter—like being sold by his brothers and forgotten by the wine taster and baker—to affect him. He pursued God and life with a passion, not allowing his circumstances to drag him down.
There are countless men and women from the past who we can look up to. But it’s also important that we pray to be modern-day Josephs, men and women who will hold fast to the Lord daily and inspire others to do great things for Christ!
By Beecher Proch