Leading Where You Are:Part 1
Leadership is not always what we expect. It is much more than having a position or a title. As one man aptly put it: “Leadership is influence; nothing more, nothing less.” Many people aspire to lead, but never seem to get anywhere. Others seem unaffected by the lure of leadership positions, but their influence is obvious and effective.
So how does one lead where he is regardless of position or situation. We find some interesting leadership concepts from the life of Joseph in the Old Testament book of Genesis. Joseph illustrates the vision of leadership while exemplifying the willingness to serve and wait on God’s timing to bring His purposes to pass. Learn with me from the leadership of Joseph to lead where you are.
I. The Vision of Leadership
The truth is that none of us goes anywhere without vision. Vision is the guiding star for achievement. Vision is the purpose for living. Vision is the reason for getting up in the morning. A father or mother may have a vision for Godly descendants. The Apostle Paul had a vision for Godly Christian leaders and saw Timothy as part of that vision. He also had a vision for the salvation of the Gentile nations. David envisioned a temple of worship for the true and living God. Vision begets energy, determination, and focus.
Joseph had a vision. It began as two dreams (Gen.37). And to those closest to him, Joseph seemed precocious and his dreams presumptuous. That may be because youthful immaturity led Joseph to speak too soon and go off half cocked. After all, how many siblings want to hear that they will one day bow before their brother?
Nevertheless, Joseph’s God-given dreams told him that life held more than just carrying food to his big brothers. The future God had for him held something significant in the plan of God.
I encourage you who know Christ to look beyond yourself, beyond the present, to a vision of your place in the Kingdom of God. Ask yourself; “How can I be effective in the work of God’s Kingdom? How can I count for eternity?”
II. The Frustration of Leadership
Seldom does the pursuit of a vision come without a struggle and even frustration. It may come because of the misunderstanding and rejection of others. It may come because of one’s own character flaws and failure. In Joseph’s case, it was both. As a youth, perhaps spoiled by his father’s favoritism, Joseph lacked discretion, a sense of timing, and even the respect he should have had for the older members of his family. Yes, his brothers were marked by some rather obvious flaws themselves. But their position in the family permitted them rank above that of Joseph. Deference would have been wise on his part and discretion the better part of valor. Even these qualities are important to spiritual leadership. The rivalry, pettiness, and resentment among Jacob’s sons led not just to division but ultimately to hatred and murderous attitudes. Joseph’s brothers not only rejected his vision, they rejected him, selling him into slavery and hoping to be done with him forever. Pretty frustrating since Joseph’s vision included his brothers.
And what was Joseph to think? His dream of his family recognizing his potential in the will of God seemed hopelessly lost and his vision for the future dashed. Perhaps he was just a youthful dreamer after all.
There are few better times for spiritual growth and character development than during the time when our dreams and visions crash on the rocks of circumstances. All that seemed possible is lost. And we discover what all who would lead and have influence for Christ must discover. Without Him we can do nothing. Spiritual leadership is not built on youthful zeal by self-made and untested men. It is built on the foundation of Christ like character that is formed in the furnace of affliction and a vital walk with God. As one wise man put it: “Remember, you cannot lead anyone higher than you yourself have gone; you cannot enrich anyone beyond your own actual experience of God.” D. Martin Lloyd Jones said; “The worst thing that can happen to a man is for him to succeed before he is ready.” Everything in life is preparation. God is up to things we often cannot imagine, and our cooperation with Him in these things is of utmost importance.
How long do we have to “wait around” for God to “get on the program”? What are we to make of God’s delays and the vision that is burning in our hearts? If you are thinking and asking such questions, remember you are not the first to have to wait and wade through uncertain and even frustrating circumstances. Moses spent forty years on the backside of the desert. Jacob served his conniving uncle Laben for more than fourteen years. David tended sheep for his father while his brothers were off doing more important and exciting things. Even the Apostle Paul spent three years in quiet preparation in Arabia while his vision for Christ’s church burned in his heart. Waiting is an integral part of God’s preparatory school and is part of the process by which God molds the leader into a holy vessel. Remember, the process is as important as the product, and with God, “timing is more important than time” (Ron Dunn).
Ponder these things, and the next time we will see how God vindicates those who have a vision for Him.