Friends in High Places–Genesis 40-41

14 Only keep me in mind when it goes well with you, and please do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh and get me out of this house. Genesis 40:14

Here’s a quick overview of Genesis 40-41.

Joseph was in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. This wasn’t justified nor the place for such a gifted and godly man.

The warden put Joseph in charge of two servants of the king who landed in jail, the cupbearer and the baker.

Joseph interpreted dreams for both men. For the cupbearer, he had good news, for the baker not so good. In return for his service, Joseph asked the cupbearer to mention him to Pharaoh when he got out. Joseph made his case by saying he had been kidnapped and that he’d done no wrong.

Turns out the cupbearer forgot him, but later recalled his gift and told Pharaoh when he had a perplexing dream. Joseph was finally summoned to the court, and thereafter elevated.

40 You shall be over my house, and according to your command all my people shall do homage; only in the throne I will be greater than you.” Genesis 41:40

I gathered these principles from this account.

  • Your plight may not be justified. It might not be fair.
  • You may be godly and gifted, and forced to mark time.
  • Where you are is not where you want to be. Joseph put it this way. He said, “get me out of this place.”
  • This comment can be taken two ways, as a lack of faith, or an awareness of the potential for God’s intervention through this man, if he so wills. “Ours is not to reason why, but to do or die,” as the old saying goes.
  • What we are to learn–what Joseph learned–is that we are where we are because of God’s will. It’s all about his perfect timing. In the meantime, Joseph exercised leadership–and his faith–in the prison, and he was able to demonstrate godliness. In the end, God exalted him, at the proper time.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

Here are the takeaways:

  1. Use your opportunities to plant seeds.
  2. Pray that God will use these opportunities that come your way for your benefit, in his perfect timing, and in his perfect way.
  3. Grow where you’re planted (see below).
  4. Be ready when your time comes. (2 Timothy 4:2)

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, ‘Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’ Jeremiah 29:4-7

 

 

Stuck in the Gate

Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. James 4:17

This verse, of course, refers to serious matters where righteousness hangs in the balance. But there’s a worthwhile principle in here. Once you know the right thing to do in a particular situation, to not do it is foolish.

Wisdom is applied knowledge. The flip side, therefore, needs consideration. To not apply knowledge is to be a fool. There’s a saying about leading horses to water. Have you gotten excellent advice and not employed it?

Surely procrastination could be categorized in the Christian life as sin, especially if God has directed you to the right road, and you hesitate to traverse it.

There’s another saying about it being easier to steer a moving ship. Is it that you haven’t begun to move that’s making it so hard? Ponder the concept of inertia.

Inertia, property of a body by virtue of which it opposes any agency that attempts to put it in motion or, if it is moving, to change the magnitude or direction of its velocity. Inertia is a passive property and does not enable a body to do anything except oppose such active agents as forces and torques. A moving body keeps moving not because of its inertia but only because of the absence of a force to slow it down, change its course, or speed it up. Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

It’s demoralizing to stay at rest too long wallowing in self-pity. It’s discouraging to be stuck behind your intimidating fears and what-ifs. It’s high time to put the body in motion, or perhaps to burn an engine to gain more velocity.

It’s fascinating to watch the jockey guide his racehorse to the starting gates. A slow but steady walk. But once in the stall, it’s only a matter of seconds before a bell rings and they’re off!

Are you still stuck in the gate?

Author’s Note: In your career search, the right things to do are first to self-assess, then to strategically plan, then to select and seek out networking partners, then to generate sales tools (business cards, 30-second elevator speech, resume, Linkedin page), then to set narrow goals and go after them. In the meantime, you research the marketplace and your intended targets and read up on the trickiest interview questions. All this is done, as my old boss used to say, not in sequence, but in parallel. There, now you know the right thing to do and the onus in on you! I say this lovingly and empathetically, but somebody needs to light the fire under you!

Everybody Cares About Something

I enjoyed reading these “corporate values.”

My favorites were Coca Cola and Southwest Airlines. Of course, I like biblical values, and I could square mine with these.

I don’t know about “being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect.” You might want to discuss this one with someone over a cup of coffee, but not too loudly.

Nevertheless inspired, I decided to see what the wisest guy in the world thought was important, and here are his values from Ecclesiastes 7:

Verse 1—Keep your good name

Verses 2,4—Stay sober

Verse 3—Learn from loss

Verse 5—Listen to rebukes

Verse 6—Laugh last

Verse 7—Pay your way

Verse 8—Finish

Verse 8—Patience

Verse 9—Stay cool

Verse 10—Look forward

Verses 11,12—Know

Verses 13,14—Accept fate

 

 

Three C’s

The inspiration for this post comes from the biblical character Daniel. No, we’re not going to talk about him in the lion’s den, but the characteristics Daniel exhibited administrating and leading under four kings. This is a remarkable feat by itself. Basically the whole time Judah was in captivity in Babylon, Daniel was behind the scenes. While an incredible tenure, Daniel exhibited the same godliness and integrity throughout that time, unmoved by all his trials and tribulations.

It makes one happy to stay consistent at something, maybe at a job for 20 years, or staying fit, for example. Godly living over 70 years with no blemishes on the permanent record is noteworthy. What in your life or in your vocation can you be more consistent? Such a change requires starting somewhere, so don’t quit something before you start mainly because you’ll have to do it for a long time for it to matter! There’s a saying about a journey of a thousand miles. It starts with one step.

I was also struck recently of something new in the familiar story of Daniel cutting a deal with the overseer under Alphanaz to  not eat the king’s food and drink the king’s wine. You’d say that a man so consistent would not be prone to compromise. But lest we forget, Daniel was first and foremost a politician–in a good sense. From his earliest years, he struck compromises that allowed him to stay true to his Lord, and still keep his head–until it was all about him praying to his God. What struck me is that the vegetables he ordered up were still prepared by the king! And the water, who can complain about just wanting water? So the plan was uncanny and it worked. The lesson: Are you sticking to your guns about something that might be holding you back? Have you thought creatively about the issue? Have you prayed for wisdom? You may have created an unnecessary logjam in your career. So try to find a suitable compromise.

Finally, everything that Daniel did from the very beginning required courage. Our crude society calls this trait any number of things, but like the lion in the Wizard of Oz, most of us lack courage to make the BIG DECISION, whether to own up or to step out on your own or to stand up for yourself. Whatever it might be, what would you do if you just had the courage to do it? Well, what are you waiting for!

 

Blow Your Own Horn

Those forced out onto the street may be forced for the first time to become their own publicist. It’s do or die time now. You don’t work, you don’t eat!

While you might not like to blow your own horn, you’d better get those chops in shape. No matter how many hot shots you may know, no matter how many achievements you’ve racked up, you’ll still need to sell yourself.

I love how the Apostle Paul makes his own case in 1 Corinthians 10 and 11. So worried that he’d sound full of himself, his preamble was loaded with disclaimers. He announced that what he was going would sound insane (11:23). But he spoke within his sphere (10:13), and within the measure of this sphere, he was a rock star. Not in his eyes, but in those to whom he ministered.

The takeaway is that he was a humble guy, aware of his shortcomings, like his contemptible unskilled speech (10:10), and perhaps his stature, yet he was super-confident. In his case, the power of God was behind everything he did, and his confidence was in Him. As such, he was able to take on the detractors, the naysayers, and the hungry wolves at his door (11:32).

When finally in front of a potential employer, it’s time, within your sphere, to make your impassioned plea. Your particular set of skills are worth a lot to somebody, but more so is your unbridled passion.

In Paul, this was clearly demonstrated in his many trials and tribulations. Don’t lose sight that despite the 195 gashes in his back, he was bound and determined to share the gospel to the Gentiles in the uttermost parts of the world, where no one dared to go. And he did, because he was worried sick about their welfare! (11:28)

Transmit your passion with what you’ve done, despite the obstacles and challenges, and you’ll impress!

Cast Your Bread

1      Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days.
2      Divide your portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what misfortune may occur on the earth.
3      If the clouds are full, they pour out rain upon the earth; and whether a tree falls toward the south or toward the north, wherever the tree falls, there it lies.
4      He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap.
5      Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things.
6      Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good. Ecclesiastes 11:1-6

Cast your bread—market yourself.

You will find it after many days.

Divide your portion—on a number of fronts.

You’ll avoid misfortune.

Clouds are full, they pour out rain.

Be realistic. “It is what it is,” as they say.

You’ll avoid rabbit trails or chasing windmills.

Tree falls, there it lies—accept results and move on.

You can’t grieve. You must keep going.

You do not know—what God is up to.

Watches the wind…looks at the clouds.

Don’t just stand there. Have a bias for action.

God who makes all things.

Openings, interviews, champions, offers, etc.

Sow your seed—full time.

Morning and evening—until you’ve earned the right to take the night off!

Do not be idle.

You can’t be if you want to succeed.

Know Thyself

Advising job seekers can be frustrating if sufficient time hasn’t been spent assessing one’s aptitudes. Added to this review is a mandatory study of past successes and failures.

But I like to focus only on successes, because these will be indicative of one’s preferences and predispositions.

It’s bad enough in between jobs, and then to dwell on failures? Better, hit the high points from grade school on, and you’ll get a pretty good picture of your predilections and passions.

Taking this keener understanding of one’s self into account, it’ll be easier to target a new position or career.

And let’s not remain in an aimless mode too long. Don’t wallow in self-pity! Know this, that a hiatus of any kind can cause debilitating rust to form. Each day, it’ll be harder and harder to get going again.

So attack the self-assessment phase with a vengeance, and zero in quickly on a plan. As the saying goes, “if you don’t know where you’re heading, any road will get you there.”

Here’s the progression.

Know your God.

Finding a job these days is next to impossible! Face it. Knowing these odds, go with someone who can do the impossible!

But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” Luke 18:27

“Know thyself”…and “to thine own self be true.”  Socrates and Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Don’t try to swim against the current!

Know your world

That is to say, is what you’re aiming for a gathering wave, or just foam on the shore?