Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you and take you back to the land of your fathers. And to you I give one more ridge of land than to your brothers, the ridge I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.” Genesis 48:21-22
Baby Boomer Behavior
Lately I’ve noticed the abundance said and written by twenty and thirty-somethings about how “that miserable baby boomer generation has failed us.”
“They’re greedy geezers.”
“They’re leaving us a great burden of debt.”
“The leaders from their generation are short sighted and selfish.”
“It’s as though they threw a big party and left it to us to clean up their mess.”
And besides all that, “They told us we could be anything we wanted as long as we put our minds to it. I found out recently — I can’t be an astronaut after all.”
Let me just tell you what I think about all these statements, they’re all undeniably — true.
Joseph’s Secret to Success
But where is the value to twenty and thirty-somethings to dwell on the failures of the previous generation?
Joseph certainly experienced people who failed him. He was hated by his own family. His brothers roughed him up and threw him in a pit. Their plan ‘A’ was to kill him. But they went with plan ‘B’ instead, which was to sell him into slavery.
To cover their tracks they staged Joseph’s death and sold that lie to their father.
As a slave Joseph wholly devoted himself to the success of his master, Potiphar, Pharaoh’s Captain of the Guard. He worked toward excellence in everything that came his way. He didn’t dwell on the failures of his family. He didn’t dwell on how his brothers rejected and betrayed him. He didn’t dwell on how his father failed to protect him.
As a reward for his excellence in serving Potiphar, Joseph was falsely accused of raping Potiphar’s wife and thrown in the dungeon.
Again we have no record of Joseph dwelling on the bad behavior of others. We have no record he lamented the false accusation and banishment. What we have record of is his devotion to the success of the very one who managed the dungeon to which he’d been banished!
Eventually God arranged the space-time continuum in such a way as to position Joseph as the number two ruler of Egypt. Once again we see Joseph’s focus on the success of his master, Pharaoh in this case, and the preservation of the people of the nation he served. Nowhere do we see Joseph complaining about being falsely accused or his time in the dungeon.
The result of Joseph’s penchant for ignoring the bad behavior of those around him, and instead focusing on the tasks set before him by God, was great success and prosperity, and, as Jacob stated in our text, God’s favor, including one more ridge of land.
Think this through with me — what are your issues? Did the previous generation produce weak leadership? Did the previous generation dote on you too much, to the extent that it compromised your ability to establish your independence? Did your mom or dad tell you, you could become an astronaut if you put your mind to it? Are these the constraints put upon you by the baby boomers and others?
Of course I write these things tongue-in-cheek, but whatever your challenges or circumstances, we learn some truly great news from Joseph’s life. Whatever wrongs or trials you’ve experienced, focus on excelling at whatever God sets before you can result in success — even if those trials involve rejection and betrayal, slavery, and false imprisonment. I think this is the difference between success and failure for today’s twenty and thirty-somethings, or anyone from any generation for that matter. Have a look around you. Those who are focused on doing their very best, whatever God puts before them, they are those who experience prosperity and success. Those who are dwelling on the bad behavior of others are so often the same one’s who are struggling. Whatever dungeon you find yourself in, this is the way out. (see Colossians 3:23-24)
Everyone of us has the opportunity to disregard the bad behavior of those around us.
Everyone of us has the opportunity to focus on the job before us.
Everyone of us has access to diligence.
Everyone of us,
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24 (emphasis mine)
[Image via cygri, Creative Commons]