Today is my mother’s birthday. In her honor, I want to tell a story about her life that illustrates what we saw in yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion.
In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we focused on the opening verses of Genesis 45, in which Joseph finally reveals his true identity to his brothers. While Joseph wept loudly, his brothers stood silently, “so dismayed were they at his presence” (45:3). No doubt they feared that, given how they had treated Joseph years ago, they were in big trouble now.
Genesis 45 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, for several reasons. First, in this chapter Joseph finally revealed his true identity to his brothers. I’m reminded of so many delightful movies — from You’ve Got Mail to Iron Man — in which the protagonist finally lets out the secret of his or her real identity. None of these movies offers more suspense and surprise than the story of Joseph in Genesis.
As I reflect on the story of Joseph and his brothers, I’m struck by one aspect of chapter 44. In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we saw that Judah, one of Joseph’s older brothers, stuck his neck out on behalf of his youngest brother, Benjamin, and their father, Jacob.
In Genesis 43, Jacob, the father of Joseph, was persuaded by his son Judah to let Benjamin, his youngest son, go to Egypt, as Joseph had required. This risky decision was necessary so that Jacob’s family might buy grain to stave off starvation. Jacob, afraid that something terrible would happen to his beloved Benjamin, nevertheless agreed that he should travel to Egypt.
In yesterdays Life for Leaders devotion, we focused on a story in Genesis 43.
As I’ve been reflecting on my own life in light of this biblical story, I remember a time when I was in a position rather like that of Jacob and when I had a counselor rather like Judah.
When we get to Genesis 43:11-14, however, we see an altogether different Jacob. He is leading strategically, willing to put his own needs on the back burner for the sake of his family. What accounts for this change in Jacob’s leadership?
Today, we continue in the series, “When Leadership is Deeply Personal.” Last week, we examined the example of Joseph, who did allow his strong emotions to influence his decision-making in the wrong direction. But, we saw how, through the passage of time and the influence of Joseph’s faith, he corrected his course. In the first two devotions of this week we began to consider the case of Jacob, Joseph’s father. We saw how his strong leadership of his sons may well have contributed to Jacob’s frustration with their lack of leadership. In today’s devotion, we’ll see how Jacob focused so much on himself that he neglected the needs of those entrusted to his care.
In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we began focusing on Jacob, Joseph’s father, and his leadership of his family. We saw that Jacob, as the patriarch of his family, was a strong, authoritative leader. Yet, we also saw Jacob’s frustration with his ten sons who kept “looking at one another” rather than taking action to deal with the possible starvation of the family owing to famine (42:1). They did not take the initiative as leaders, but chose instead to wait for their father’s instruction. Reflecting on Jacob’s example, I suggested that sometimes a strong, influential leader can actually inhibit the growth and health of the organization he or she leads.
In last week’s Life for Leaders devotions, we considered what happens when leadership is deeply personal, using the example of Joseph in Genesis 42.
This week, I’d like to consider another example of leadership in Genesis 42. Now we’ll look at Joseph’s father, Jacob, and his leadership of his family.