A few weeks back, I read an ebook by Jeff Goins. It's called the Surprises of Success and contains 15 practical tips on finding and living a successful life. While I agree with the content of the book, I realize that there is a foundation those tips must be built on (and some of the writers emphasized this).
Success is good but it is relative. That means that what I might consider as being a success may hold little water to you. It all boils down to the different stages of life we are in and the situations/challenges we may be currently facing. All in all, there is a root from which true success must grow.
The Book of Genesis tells a story of a seventeen year old boy who was sold into slavery in a far land by his brothers out of jealousy. His name was Joseph. The bible recorded that, though a slave, he was successful and prosperous (Chapter 39 Vs 2).
What success and prosperity can a slave be said to have seeing that he is but, a slave and everything he has is but, his master's?
Let's take a moment to learn a bit and understand Joseph's situation.
• Back in his father's house, he was his father's favourite.
• He had a dream of becoming truly great.
• He has now been sold into slavery by his own brothers because they despised him for his dreams.
• In this strange land, he definitely missed his family (at least he missed his father and younger brother, Benjamin).
• He definitely hated his elder brothers and hoped that a day would come when he would pay them back in their own coin.
• His dream had been cut short by his treacherous brothers.
• All he was now (and to him, will ever be) was a slave.
How could such a boy with his entire future stolen from him be said to be successful?
One Answer Is Included In The Same Verse
But the Lord was with Joseph... - Genesis 39:2a, Amp.
God's Presence in Joseph's life was the success and prosperity that Joseph had. In other words, God was Joseph's success and prosperity. Not money. Not material things. Not even feelings.
I'm sure there are times in your life when you may think that Joseph's situation during this season of his life was even better and more hopeful than yours ( - and that might be happening now); but what we see here clearly shows that our life's situations - whether good or bad - never determines if we are successful or not. [Note, I do not say "if we will be successful..." but "if we are successful..."]. It's about the now; and God's Presence in your life now could never be subdued by whatever is going on in your life now (or ever). It's time to start thinking it, believing it and living it: because God is with you, whether it is raining or shining, you are successful and prosperous.
He Was Still In God's Plan
While Joseph may have thought that his dreams had been cut short, he couldn't have been more wrong. No God-inspired and God-sized dream gets cut short by human hands or will.
Joseph was forced into slavery by his brothers. He would rather be with his family in his father's house. So we can say that situations caught up against him and life did him bad. There is no mention of him still dreaming or "working to realize his dream". He simply lived in the moment - being a successful slave. No longer in the land where his brothers and parents could bow to him and he, rule over them.
Nonetheless, Joseph's God-sized dream was never misplaced. Reason is, Joseph didn't own the dream, God did. He was only a trustee and steward of a dream that belonged to God.
There was going to be a famine and that would affect the Israelites; should the sons of Israel be no more (including Joseph), who would God use to fulfill the promise He made to Eve and to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? The Israelites needed to be preserved. Therefore, it wasn't about Joseph, it was about God working diligently towards fulfilling the promise He made to His friends years back.
'Tis the same with us. What is that dream of yours that seems to be pouting over? If it is God-inspired, He will preserve it. You need not worry nor fret; only trust that He is working it out for your good and ultimately, for His glory.
Joseph May Have Worked, But,
And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all that he did to flourish and succeed in his hand.
- Genesis 39:3, Amp.
So I was talking about Jeff Goins' ebook [by the way, you can get a free copy on Noisetrade]; and how it is filled with practical tips; yet, we know that unless the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain who build it (Psalm 127:1a) and that it is useless to work so hard for a living, getting up early and going to bed late; when the Lord provides for those He loves, while they are asleep (Psalm 127:2).
I am not advocating that you get lazy (and surely the bible pities the man who does - see Proverbs 24:30-34); but whilst we work, we must bear in mind that it is God Who brings the increase; Who causes to grow what we plant. Armed with this knowledge, we know to turn all of our labour into God's hand.
The Lord caused all that Joseph did to flourish. To flourish (Oxford Mini Dictionary) means to grow vigorously; prosper; be successful. To grow vigorously indicates not just an increase in size or amount but with an equally active physical and mental strength and with such force as cannot be withheld or stopped. Now, you know why you need to invite and engage God in your work.
Joseph did not go out of his way to please Potiphar or make him happy. The man simply saw how the Presence of God on/in/with him made him flourish and prosper and he (Potiphar) delighted in it. Joseph simply served him. He didn't go looking to play favourites. He simply served. God did the rest.
All the while, Joseph remains practically insignificant in his own success story. He did nothing, planned nothing, thought nothing and, he orchestrated nothing. The Lord was with him and he succeeded and prospered.
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