How did Joseph, son of Jacob, manage to mitigate a global-level famine catastrophe and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people (if not millions)? He had no degree or Masters in Resource Management. He was not privy to agricultural silo technology. Yet he managed to avert the consequences of a seven-year famine. If you read through the story of Joseph, you will find the answer to be quite simple; he was faithful with little. Joseph, the great Egyptian hero was also Joseph the little house servant hero and the little prison assistant hero.
We can see from Joseph’s ethic while working for Potiphar that he excelled at his duties. He was soon put in charge of the other servants. The faithfulness in his small job is seen when Potiphar ceases concerning himself with the wealth he owns since Joseph is in charge. While all the Egyptians saw was a house manager, God saw a global disaster manager in making. We do not see Joseph working half-heartedly because he is a kidnapped slave in a foreign land. Joseph works as if the home belongs to his own father.
You see, God needed Joseph to succeed at Potiphar’s in order for him to succeed at the future palace. A lousy attitude that keeps looking at the horrible things in the past would have kept Joseph stagnant. Our attitudes may be bigger hindrances than the devil we keep complaining of. He hasn’t stolen your joy; you have handed it over to him because in ignorance you fail to understand that Potiphar’s premises is a preparation for the palace’s power. Preparation precedes promotion.
Joseph was then arrested after being falsely accused of attempted rape. When incarcerated, he wins the favour of the warden and he is put in charge of the prisoners. The Egyptians see a demoted rapist rotting in the prison. God sees a future Prime Minister being given more management experience. The Egyptians see a life going from bad to worse since his kidnapping. God sees a steady forging of strong character weathered by pain and hurt.
The other prisoners could not help but consult Joseph when faced with personal matters. Joseph’s personal circumstantial pains could make him respond to the baker and the cup bearer selfishly. He would have said, “You think you have problems? I was almost killed by my brothers. They stole my favourite coat. I was sold into slavery in exchange for silver. I was kidnapped and falsely accused of rape. Now here I am rotting like a common criminal. God doesn’t love me!” And on and on he would have whined about his sorry little life. But in doing so, he would have dismissed the Chief cup bearer who would help save him from the prison. Our pity parties make us blind to the needs of others. If we keep blaming our backgrounds our backs will always be on the ground. Before the palace came the prison. The latter only shaped Joseph to be ready for the former. Joseph was also very committed to his prison duties to the extent that the warden needed not be concerned with his work. Joseph was forgotten by the Chief cup bearer for two full years. The Egyptians saw a broke foreigner with no political connections to get him out. God saw a challenged mindset being trained how to be patient and emotionally intelligent when things don’t go your way and there seems to be no way out.
Eventually Joseph is released when the cup bearer remembers him. In a matter of minutes, Joseph’s destiny changes! From the prison to the palace. From managing servants and prisoners to managing a country. We must never despise the processes of life. When David faced Goliath, he referenced the bears and lions he had killed as a shepherd as experience to defeat the giant. In comparison, Goliath was a more daunting challenge than a lion and a bear; even a lion and a bear combined. While it may look like the battles with bears and lions may seem to have no bearing with battling the giant, there is a simple godly principle that proves otherwise. Faithfulness in small responsibilities opens doors for victory in great arenas. Perhaps if we listen carefully, we will realise that the teacher (God) is only silent because the student (us) is seating the exam. In the words of Jesus:
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” Luke 16:10-12 (NIV)