A few months ago I told you, “You are more successful than you know!” Too often we define success fully as the result. Hear again:
Andy Stanley, in his book Visioneering. God’s Blueprint for Developing and Maintaining Vision, talks about success versus the rewards of success. “There is a tendency to confuse success with the rewards of success. If you are where God wants you, fulfilling the responsibilities he has given you, you are successful. In fact, when that is the case, you are as successful as you will ever be.”Do you hear what he is saying? Too often, we think success is only when we reach the destination. We think success is winning the Super Bowl. We think success is becoming rich and famous. We think success is being in charge as Joseph was in charge of Egypt.These are the rewards of success. Being successful is living each day out the best you can. Being successful happens long before we think and feel successful.
We looked at Joseph’s life and asked, when was he successful? I want to go back to Joseph’s life again this morning. Too often we get lost pursuing “success” and forget that it is all part of one big journey, a journey that often we do not control.
Joseph’s story is one filled with a few drastic ups and downs. We find Joseph being celebrated and loved dearly by his father, a great position to be in.
3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons because he was born when Jacob was old. Jacob had made for him a long robe. (Genesis 37)
Joseph innocently enough has a few dreams that suggest that some day he will rule over his family. He shares these dreams with his family, who do not appreciate the dreams.
10 When he described it to his father and brothers, his father scolded him and said to him, “What kind of dreams have you dreamed? Am I and your mother and your brothers supposed to come and bow down to the ground in front of you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father took careful note of the matter. (Genesis 37)
Can you relate? In your life, you may experience times of great joy. In your life, you may too have times where the people around you may not fully see things as you see them. You may be looking for encouragement or support, and you get “jealous brothers.” The very ones that Joseph should have been able to trust the most, turn on him.
18 They saw Joseph in the distance before he got close to them, and they plotted to kill him. 19 The brothers said to each other, “Here comes the big dreamer. 20 Come on now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of the cisterns, and we’ll say a wild animal devoured him. Then we will see what becomes of his dreams!” (Genesis 37)
They decide not to kill him but sale Joseph, their brother, as a slave. Joseph eventually finds himself in Potiphar’s house.
When Joseph had been taken down to Egypt, Potiphar, Pharaoh’s chief officer, the commander of the royal guard and an Egyptian, purchased him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. 2 The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man and served in his Egyptian master’s household. (Genesis 39)
Things seem to be getting back on track. However, Potiphar’s wife accuses him of wrong and Joseph finds himself in jail. Joseph is forgotten and left in prison for at least two years. Yes, Joseph eventually is released from prison. Yes, Joseph eventually rises to rule over Egypt, but how much of this was in Joseph’s control?
There are plenty of things in our lives that we can seek to control. However, there is so much more we cannot do anything about. Do all that you can do, but remember to trust God with the rest.
(All scripture cited above from Common English Bible Copyright © 2011)