“It was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” --Genesis 45:5
Joseph was a leader in Egypt—he was the Jew whose godly foresight saved countless lives by preparing for a massive famine. If you are not familiar with his story you can read it in the Bible, in Genesis chapters 37-50. Notice two things about leadership from the verse above. First, leaders are sent ahead of others. That is the very nature of leadership—to be out in front blazing a path where few or none have gone before. Second, leaders are prepared ahead of others.
How was it that Joseph could be sent ahead of anyone? It was because he was sold into slavery, falsely accused of a crime, and forgotten about in prison. In particular, it was because he excelled in each of those situations as he determined to exalt God regardless of his circumstances.
While it may seem that some leaders become leaders through the “fast-track” of family or professional relationships by getting placements and breaks that others don’t, the reality is that most leaders are forged over time. And that forging process is often painful, dark and sometimes even depressing. Great leaders more times than not have had to overcome great adversity—in fact, this is one thing that separates leaders from everyone else. For it is in adversity that leaders-to-be learn how to overcome problems through faith, focus, positive attitudes, and ingenuity. And it is problem-solving that most people see as the primary contribution leaders bring to the table.
Now, for those of us who are students of leadership, we know the importance of vision, seeking out opportunities, and balancing emotion with reason, but the average follower only sees the immediate and the problems before them. Good leaders solve problems.
Joseph was such a leader but he became that way because he was sent ahead of everyone else. In a sense, he experienced the hardships so that others wouldn’t have to. He went ahead of them in suffering so that he could one day be ahead of them as a proactive leader who saves lives.
What about you today? What is your attitude and approach to difficult times? The struggles you are encountering now may be just what you need to mold you into a problem-solving trailblazer who saves and helps lives.