The story of Joseph is one who portrayed true greatness in God’s Kingdom by serving his brethren and the world. Bear with me as I explain every point. Though many leaders in the world and church field see Joseph as a leader, I am switching my thinking the other way around to see Joseph as a servant.
Joseph knew no one else to please except his God. He stood up in his integrity in the entire story. Whether he was with his family [a picture of a church] or he was in Egypt [a picture of the world] in every situation God was pleased by him. He was seventeen years old and he was ‘shown loved’ by his father. He was given a tunic of many colors. His brothers saw it as ‘favoritism’ and so ‘they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.’ [v.2-4]
One day Joseph, ‘the dreamer’ being the second youngest of the twelve started to enthusiastically share his first dream and his brothers ‘hated him even more.’ [v.5] He was unaware of his brothers’ jealousy. When you are excited about something, with whom would you share those excitements other than the members of your own household? Who else would believe in you except your own brethren? With whom else would you want to celebrate and share your dreams other than your family called church?
“There we were,” the dreamer started, “binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.” v. 7 Verse 8: And his brothers said to him, “Shall you indeed reign over us?”
Who said anything about ‘reigning?’ “Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?” They continued. Who ever mentioned about ‘dominion?’ “So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.” v. 8
The only ones who talked about ‘reigning’ and ‘dominion’ were his own brothers, who anyway hated him. It was his brothers who didn’t like him, who didn’t believe in him, who didn’t trust him. His own brothers! Joseph simply shared his dreams ‘without’ interpreting it. His brothers interpreted it their own ways. Did Joseph think about ‘reigning’ over his own brothers? Or ‘lording’ over his ‘older’ brothers? As we read the story further, we see that in every occasion Joseph portrays a heart of ‘service.’ We shall see this as we go on.
Another dream that Joseph dreamt was about ‘the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down’ to him [v.9] This time his father Jacob was present when he shared it and his father ‘rebuked him’ and ‘kept the matter in mind’ but his brothers ‘envied’ all the more. The story takes a sad turn when his brothers plan to kill Joseph. Rueben rescues him with an alternative plan and instead they threw him into a waterless pit. After this they sat down to eat and saw the Midianite traders pass by. So they pulled Joseph and lifted him up out of the pit and sold him as a slave. He was taken to Egypt, his father on the other side, ignorant of Joseph being alive, mourned over his beloved son into the grave of death. v.12-36
Egypt – the World System
Egypt, the ‘world system’ of its day, had a ‘king’ named Pharaoh. People around him had ‘ranks of leadership’ which were absent in Israel’s camp [this time Jacob was called ‘Israel’ 37:3]. God created man in the ‘likeness’ of Him, a community, for love and relationship and for fellowship. Though he was given ‘authority’ and ‘dominion’ Gen. 1:26-28, it was never for human-to-human ‘ordination’ but to rule over the ‘fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth’ to ‘subdue it’ and to ‘have ‘dominion.’ Go on and read your own Bible on verse 28. This is how we are ‘blessed.’
The serpent wanting to control God’s creation tempted the first couple to be self-dependent. When the devil saw that he was successful at it, he continued manipulating man to live by themselves without the rulership of God, [because they have become like God – why need Him?] and in so doing Satan created a ‘system’ in which he himself becomes the ‘god of this world.’ 2 Cor. 4:4.
When one is ruled by God, there is only family. When one is ruled by man, there is hierarchy. Hierarchy, dominions, control, man ruling over other men with ranks of leadership exists in Egypt, in the worldly systems. It comes alive when you have not allowed the King to rule over you. Self dependency gives birth to hierarchy. Just like in the Garden of Eden, you want to be independent of God and in so doing blindly give into the control of the false god of this world, Egypt, the worldly system.
Joseph SERVING in Potiphar’s quarter
“The Lord was with Joseph” [v.2]. “And his mater saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand.” [v3] “So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him.” [v4.]
Wow, I am starting to love this!
The next verse says that his master “Captain” Potiphar “made him overseer of his house and all that he had” [v.5]. What made this captain do that? He saw the Lord was with Joseph. He’s showing his light! His little light in the world! That’s what we are supposed to do in this world. That’s how we are supposed to behave in front of them: Matthew 5:16 – “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds.” It didn’t say ‘hide your light’ but it says, ‘shine!” The story of this dreamer goes on with Potiphar’s wife who tempted him to sleep with her. Joseph stood his integrity ‘day by day’ and won the battle but he lost his ‘leadership position in the world.’
When it comes to lust, no one is dead, flee from temptation. It doesn’t say “fight” or “face.” By the way, it is good news and I am glad that “captain” Potiphar kicked him out of his position because Joseph was not made for it. The world hired him and therefore they also had the right to fire him! God didn’t hire Joseph; he only “blesses” him. The world grabs every opportunity to use him for its own good. Joseph was bought to ‘serve’ the captain. v. 4
Joseph SERVING in Prison
Joseph was put into the dungeon because of that battle of the flesh. He refused to face it and fight it. He, in fact, flew from it. Yah, cool brave guy! He stood in his integrity. v.9 The Lord continued to be with Joseph, v.21, and He was given authority and he prospered in his ways [v.23] At some point the two servants of the king offended the king and he was angry at them. He put them in the same prison where Joseph was confined. And Joseph serves them there, v.4 Joseph keeps serving and serving and serving wherever God leads him.
We are ‘led by the spirit’ to serve like Joseph. If leadership is influence, then we have the influence of the Holy Spirit to lead to serve “in the world.” Take note: “IN THE WORLD.” Use your leadership skills in the world, not over your brethren. You are gifted to lead souls to God. This is where our role of leadership applies. But hey, after all it’s the world that is calling it, right? It’s “Captain Potiphar” who put him “in-charge of his house.” And in the prison it’s the “keeper” who “committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners.” 39:22. And later on it is Pharaoh himself who puts him next to him! [41:40] Did any of his brothers put him in any position in his house? No, they hated him. How can someone who hates you put you in a position to rule over him? There is no position to fill in, no title nor a leadership ladder to climb in God’s house.” Even in Noah’s Ark, there are only three partitions not levels [of leadership], and even then it is not for the eight human beings who were there as one family, but those were for the animals! Oh, leadership, ‘a very strange kind of animal,’ says Tony Dale.
There is leadership in this world, In Egypt. But in His Kingdom of families, there is none, except Him. Back to Joseph who keeps serving in the Egyptian kingdom where the Lord’s blesses him and whenever Egypt sees the opportunity to use him for its own good – God takes over the lead. We are called to ‘serve the world.’ Let us be led by the spirit to serve them and in turn lead them to Christ. Serve those whom you lead to Christ.
Joseph SERVING Pharaoh
Gen. 41:40 – You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you. Joseph rose to power. He was BLESSED BY GOD TO RULE IN THE WORLD. Though Joseph was ordained by God, he was made to rule not ‘over’ his own brothers but over Egypt’s house. The reason why Jesus doesn’t promote leadership among His people [‘not so among you’ ‘for you are all brothers’] is because there is always someone appointed to be higher than you in the world. God doesn’t tolerate anyone to replace His position in the Church. He is the Head and always will be. ‘Leadership’ is the world’s concept to control its inhabitants! Servant-hood is the Lord’s way to lead His people. He set an example to ‘serve.’ He came to serve; not using leadership to serve people but servant-hood to lead people. It’s the other way around. It is always the other way around in the Kingdom of God. This Kingdom style kills the status quo of the world. It kills its power, and its control. It “turns the world upside down!”
Leadership says: I am leading those whom I serve.
Servant-hood says: I am serving those whom I lead.
Verse 41 – And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.”
The world loves to set you high above everyone else. It loves to give you a position, a name. Go for it if God leads you to serve the world like Joseph, put in any position he served the people around him. If God does not lead you, drop it. I remember Satan giving ‘position’ to ‘rule the world.’ “I will give you all this if you kneel down and worship me.” Matt. 4:10. The world has everything to offer. Likewise God wants you to “forsake everything!” Lk. 14:33
Keith Giles says: You know that you are a ‘servant’ when someone treats you like one and you’re not offended. Well I say: you know that you are a ‘leader’ when someone treats you like one and you’re not offended!!!
We read of Joseph’s Egyptian [Worldly] Ordination in verse 42 and of Joseph’s Egyptian [Worldly] Proclamation in verse 43-44 Joseph’s Leadership was known all over Egypt. He served them all. I would say that it fits well in the world to say that leadership is a ‘leader-servant.’ We will just call it ‘servant-leader’ simply because first of all without serving others you can’t be recognized as a leader and second of all it sounds humble. Actually, we must know our place when it comes to servant-hood and leadership. Both of them exist, but we must learn WHERE to use them. In the world, you lead to serve. In the church family, you serve. “Serve one another” it doesn’t say “lead one another.”
In the beginning we see Joseph “lead” so well in Egypt. At the end, the purpose of God reveals!!! Read on with the story. The king had dreams of famine across the land. Joseph interpreted those dreams and was released from the prison. He devised famine proof plans and saved a whole lot of deaths. When his brothers came for food this is then the climax of this article. Joseph SERVING his family “‘And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.” 45:4, 5
Although Joseph played around with his brothers and stood up as “lord of Egypt” he identifies himself as one of them, brother. He being “lord” treated them as his brothers not “lording” over them but “serving” them. He didn’t say, “Hey, see my dream was fulfilled. You come now and bow down to me you cowards! Before I was your brother but now I am your lord!”
The dream then was never about a lesson on ‘leadership’ reigning or dominating over brothers but it was a lesson on servant-hood. It was all about how he was used by God to ‘serve’ his household. And the story was not really about one-man’s dream, or “who had the dream?” But it’s about “preserving life” in the family through serving one another. v. 5