Do you have a boss that treats you unfairly? Parents who you regularly disagree with? Leaders who don’t operate the way you believe they should?
It is easy to honour people when we agree with them, or they treat us the right way – but what do we do if they don’t? How do we respect those in authority even when they aren’t operating like you believe they should?
Let’s look at the story of Joseph in Genesis. Joseph was deeply loved by his father. So much so that his own brothers grew jealous of Joseph’s favour and sold him to slave traders. The cruel journey of walking through the wilderness in chains wouldn’t have compared to the emotional pain of rejection from his own flesh and blood.
The slave traders then sold Joseph to Potiphar in Egypt, where he would serve Pharaoh. Still dealing with the injustice from his family, he had to quickly adapt to a whole different culture. From farm boy to palace slave, this was a true test of his character.
Despite unfair circumstances, Joseph faithfully did his job. He never tried to prove himself, he just remained honouring, and in turn, God honoured him. So how did Joseph survive? The answer is that he was really serving God, not man. His identity was immersed in his relationship with God, not the treatment served to him. This is where he found his strength.
At request, Joseph was asked to use his God-given talent of dream interpretation, which he faithfully did. Eventually this gift would unlock the destiny of a country. In his faithfulness ‘Joseph found favour in his master’s eyes’ (Genesis 39:4). As Proverbs 18:16 says, ‘A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great’. Pharaoh was a pagan loving man, yet his life was greatly moved by the humble service of Joseph. God used Joseph’s spiritual gift and character to rock Pharaoh to the core! From his honouring heart, Joseph would soon be recognised as a powerful leader.
The story doesn’t end there. The injustice towards Joseph continued and the testing of his character tried yet again. After refusing Potiphar’s wife’s attempts to entice him to bed with her, she falsely accused him of sexual harassment and destroyed his reputation. Now talk about unfair!
Yet the favour of God continued to rest on Joseph as he again chose to honour despite circumstance. Even in prison he remained faithful to God and man. Genesis 29:1 tells us that, ‘The Lord was with him; He showed kindness and granted him favour in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in prison.’
Joseph was eventually reunited with his brothers years later. Only now, Joseph was a powerful man – he had gone from prisoner to prime minister. Despite his position, he remained true to his heart of honour and was still gracious, humble and forgiving towards those who wronged him, and in-turn the favour of God on his life grew.
God certainly didn’t condone the Pagan leadership of Pharaoh, or the unjust treatment of Joseph from various characters in the story, yet Joseph was blessed for his ability to honour despite the behaviour of those in authority. Let this be the point for today – it isn’t our job to manage our leaders/parents/boss – that is for God to handle. Our job is to steward our own heart and honour the person, despite their actions – for there is blessing in honour.
‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters’ (Colossians 3:23).
“From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field.”
A daily devotion for a better way of living.