Let us talk about success for a minute. We shall probably define it in a future blog but for today, let us talk about one godly young man who beat all odds and was successful—Joseph! A favourite, spoilt child of the father one minute and then a slave in a foreign country the next. How life can overturn in a few minutes! Yet, despite the circumstances and the place, Joseph is outstanding “in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12, NIV.
But what made Joseph stand out despite the circumstances and the idolatry all around him? I picked out the following seven reasons for his unparalleled prosperity:
“The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man, and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand.”— Genesis 39:2-3, NKJV
- Fidelity to God that was unhidden before the heathens. At the time, Egypt was the most civilised nation in existence. Therefore wealth, pomp, materialism, and idolatry must have been rampant, and more so, at a highly-ranked officer’s home like Potiphar. Yet Potiphar “saw that the Lord was with” Joseph. This implies that Joseph was not shy in living out His faith. He openly worshipped God with fidelity while all others around him worshipped false gods.
- Industry, care and passion towards all his work. Joseph comes across as a diligent, careful and passionate worker, knowing he was working for God and not merely for men (Col. 3:23). As a result, he was gradually promoted from a mere slave entrant to head steward in his master’s house. So much so that Potiphar “entrusted to his care everything he owned. . . . [and he] did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate” (Genesis 39:6, NIV)
- Consistency and well-directed effort. As young people, we often imagine success will come from a lottery win or some random act that will elevate us from our lack to prosperity. However, more often than not, success comes through deliberate and consistent efforts at something. Joseph must have a laid-out plan for each day that enabled him to execute his duties efficiently and effectively.
- His personal character of Christian courtesy and kind-heartedness. Looking at Joseph in the prison, we see a Joseph that was kind and considerate of other people’s needs above his own.
- Continual growth in knowledge. From a young nomad living in tents to a slave in Egypt to head steward in a prestigious home to a foreign prison to an Egyptian palace. There must have been much learning and unlearning to survive in a foreign land. I am sure Joseph did not waste any chance at growing his knowledge of the affairs of the nation he was in. Thus preparing him to be prime minister of the most civilised nation of the time.
- Networking. The guests at Potiphar’s house were definitely of high rank. This may have availed Joseph with hundreds of opportunities to engage with the guests over various issues. After all, remember, Potiphar did not concern himself over anything in his house except the food he ate. So Joseph must have been a very capable and hospitable host with great networking skills.
- God’s favour and blessing. Top on the list that led to Joseph’s prosperity was the Bible’s disclosure that: “The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; . . . his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. . . . So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had in the house and in the field” (Genesis 39:2-3, 5, NKJV)
Joseph’s story just reminds me that despite my circumstances, I too can have unparalleled success in this 21st-century generation. Regardless of the corruption of the nations, you too can choose to:
- Be faithful to God while everybody else is unfaithful
- Be industrious and passionate in all God puts in your hands to do
- Be consistent and deliberate in all your plans
- Be kind and courteous in all your dealings with men
- Be intentional in growing your knowledge base. Either through formal schooling, informal training, or personal reading.
- Be social and grow your networks
- Ask the Lord for His blessing and favour in all that you do.
You too can be as prosperous as Joseph regardless of your circumstances.