By John Maxwell
Joseph puts his entire life in perspective in the final chapter of Genesis. During the height of a terrible famine, his brothers humbly come before him and bow down, just he had predicted decades earlier. When Joseph’s brothers realized that the one that they had betrayed could now do with them what he pleased, they feared payback time had arrived.
But instead of using his enormous power to punish them, he said, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” (Gen. 50:20)
How does one develop such a godly (and rare) perspective? What enabled Joseph to refrain from exacting the kind of vengeance most of us would be tempted to dish out in similar circumstances? One word: character. The Bible describes some really dark and difficult times in Joseph’s life. But it also reveals that every time he faced adversity, he used it to develop himself personally and to build trust with others. Joseph had spent years in God’s character-building course, he could maintain a proper perspective and use his power to bless his brothers rather than curse them. Joseph was able to make one comeback after another and prove himself trustworthy as a leader, robed in humility in grace.
How a leader deals with the circumstances of life tells you many things about their character. Crisis doesn’t necessarily make character, but it certainly does reveal it. Adversity is a crossroads that makes a person choose one of two paths: character or compromise. Every time he chooses character, he becomes stronger, even if that choice brings negative consequences. (Remember why Joseph ended up in prison?). The development of character is at the heart of our development as leaders.
If you want God’s perspective on life, then make sure to develop your character. It’s the only way, as Joseph reminds us.
We may not find ourselves faced with the exact situation that Joseph did, but we may find ourselves are asked for forgiveness and grace by those who do not deserve it or forced to choose between character and compromise. Let’s learn from Joseph. While it’s never the easy decision, the character we develop is well worth it in the end, and like Joseph we can say: “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” (Gen. 50:20)
Reprinted with permission from The Maxwell Leadership Bible, NKJV by John Maxwell.
About the Author:
John C. Maxwell, a #1 New York Times bestselling author, coach and speaker, was identified as the #1 leader in business by the AMA and the world’s most influential leadership expert by Inc. in 2014. His organizations — The John Maxwell Company, The John Maxwell Team, and EQUIP — have trained more than 6 million leaders in every nation. Visit JohnMaxwell.com for more information.