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Jack Graham - Success God's Way

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    Jack Graham - Success God's Way
TOPICS: Joseph, Success

Take your Bibles and turn with me to Genesis chapter 41, and I want to speak to you today on the subject "God's Way to Success". Now what is success? Is it title? Is it position? Is it rank? Is it celebrity? Is it fortune and fame? None of the above! God's way to Success, true success is found in discovering God's dream for your life, God's purpose and plan for your life, and then finding and following that dream all the days that you're on earth. This is what our friend Joseph did. God put a dream in his heart. It was his destiny. His favor and faithfulness was upon life throughout the years in good times as well as bad. And ultimately Joseph rose to the pinnacle of power to become a prince of Egypt, from rags to riches, from the prison to the pinnacle of success.

It is truly a remarkable story. And while this is a long narrative and I would always encourage you to read this great story on your own, we're going to be looking in the forty-first chapter, verses 14, 15 and 16 today, along with selected passages in this story of Joseph's success. "Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they quickly brought him out of the pit. And when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh. "And Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. And I've heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.' Joseph answered Pharaoh, 'It is not me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.'"

And then look over in chapter 41 at verse 37: "This proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. And Pharaoh said to his servants, 'Can we find a man like this in whom is the Spirit of God?' And then Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards to the throne will I be greater than you.' And Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.' Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph's hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck. And he made him ride in his second chariot. And they called out before him, 'Bow the knee! Bow the knee!' Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt".

The last time we were with Joseph, he was in prison, forgotten by man but remembered by God. And now two years later, with breath-taking speed Joseph is moved out of prison and into the palace of Pharaoh. Pharaoh had dreamed some dreams and Joseph had experience with dreams. These two dreams really describe the future of Egypt and the future of the world at that time. And God gave Joseph the ability to interpret these dreams. And he was given, therefore, this place of prominence. What is true success? It says of Joseph that he was successful man. I believe in Joseph we find a beautiful and balanced picture of genuine success and real leadership.

Well, God put a dream in Joseph's heart and this dream inspired him. And it illuminated his life. So that he became a light in a dark place, and he became a leader over the land of Egypt. What a leader he was! What is it about this man? I find in him some ingredients for successful leadership. And that's what we're going to be talking about. One, and I would encourage you to take some notes because you are a leader! God has called every one of us to lead, whether it's leading our families, or leading our friends to Christ; leading in our communities, our business, our churches. God has called every one of us to influence, no matter what you do or who you're around, you are an influence. And you're either an good leader or a poor leader.

But what is godly leadership? One, spirituality. When you observe the life of Joseph, you know that he was a spiritual man. Over and over again it is said the Lord was with him. God was with him. This relationship with God is not a part-time thing! It is a 24/7 relationship! And the Spirit of God lives in the believer to guide us, to direct us, to show us and give us wisdom. This is to empower us and to elevate us in life. You know most of the self-help books, and many of these are good and inspirational. But so many of them say things like "You can be anything you want to be"!

Well, that is not true! I, you know, I would love to play in the NBA. But believe all I will, I'm not good enough, tall enough, young enough to play in the NBA! It's not true if I just believe something, I can achieve something. What is true is that God will give us dreams for our lives. God will give us a purpose and a plan of action for our lives if we will look to Him and listen to Him. And then He will fill us with His Spirit and empower us and use us for His glory to accomplish His goals for His glory through us! That's what is true! And it's not about me; it's about Him! It's about the greater good. And that's what Joseph discovered, spirituality. This is true leadership; this is genuine success.

Secondly, integrity. Joseph was tempted, tested and tried, but through it all he maintained his integrity. He was trustworthy with all the blessings of God upon his life. The word integrity, we get our word integer as a side note to that word. It means wholeness or integrated. Integrity means that I am the same person publicly as I am privately. All leadership is built upon trust. Nothing is more important than a leader's credibility. If people trust you, again, including your own children, if people trust you, if you are trustworthy in your leadership, they will follow you. When you have integrity, what you see is what you get; is who you are. It's more important than vision, charisma, personality, speaking ability; more important than anything in your leadership is your integrity!

Number three, humility. Joseph's humility is obvious. In chapter 41 as we read earlier, when Pharaoh said, "I heard that you can interpret dreams", verse 16, "Joseph answered Pharaoh, 'It is not me; it's God who will give you an answer.'" Rather than taking credit for this God-given ability that he possessed, he gave credit and glory to God. That's humility. Now humility is often misunderstood. We think, you know, humility is timidness or shyness or, you know, kinda walking around like this, like Eyore, "Ooh me, I'm just humble". No, that's not humility! That's just poor posture and a bad attitude to go with it. Humility is not thinking lowly of yourself; humility is not thinking of yourself! It is putting God first in your life! Humility is giving God the credit for all the good in your life.

Look! If there's anything good about you, if there's anything good about me, it's all because of Jesus! It's all because of what He had done in our lives. And therefore, we walk in humility! We give credit; we give glory to God for all that has done! Once Joseph is on the pinnacle of success, he has everything seemingly now: he has a ring, a royal ring on his finger, he has Pharaoh's robe on his back, he's riding in chariots, he has riches beyond his wildest imagination! When Joseph rolls by in his chariot, the people say, "Bow down! Bow down! Bow down! It's Joseph"!

Now how do you handle that kind of applause and achievement and success? That is perhaps the biggest test he would face. Every leader is subjected to two tests primarily. One is the test of criticism. If you lead anything, you will be criticized, including your own family. Right? I'll tell you how never to be criticized: that is to say nothing, do nothing, be nothing, you will never be criticized. But if you take leadership there will be criticism, and how you handle criticism is an important test of a leader. That you learn from appropriate criticism what you need to learn, and then that you put it aside and with lessons learned, move forward. But not crushed by criticism!

The second test of any leader is praise. And this is Joseph's test at this point. He is praised for his greatness, and yet he gives all the glory back to God. When you are praised that's a test. The next time you're promoted, that's a test. When you get a raise, that's a test. When you're blessed in some unusual or unexpected way, or even in just an ordinary way, that is a test. And I've learned through the years to put the praise and the criticism in the same place, at the feet of Jesus, at the feet of Jesus. And that must have been what Joseph did. The worst sin, the most wicked sin of all is not murder, adultery, but at the top of the list is to worship other gods. That's pride, starting with the god of self. Pride is the parent sin. Pride is the sin that put Satan out of heaven. Pride is the sin that put the man and the woman out of the Garden. Pride is the most sinful thing a person can do, and every sinful act is a result of pride. So Joseph's leadership was spirituality. Joseph's leadership was humility.

Joseph's leadership was integrity. But there's a fourth element, an essential of all true leadership and success, and that is ability. Ability is an important criteria; that you have a certain ability to do what you are called to do. Now Joseph had a unique and God-given ability, and it is an ability to interpret dreams and to give wise counsel. That's what happened as we read a moment ago when Joseph's rises to power. Look at verse 39 again. "And then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are". He had genuine wisdom, which I would define as common sense solutions to human problems. I've read many definitions of wisdom. Wisdom is seeing things from God's perspective. Or wisdom is the practical use of knowledge. A leader is discerning, makes good decisions, wise decisions. This is what Joseph did. He heard the dreams of Pharaoh.

Now these are interesting dreams that Pharaoh dreamed. Two, but the same dream, really. One, fat cows and lean cows. I keep getting a picture of those Chick-Fil-A commercials in this dream. Seven large cows, seven lean cows. And the lean cows ate the large cows. Woo! Scary! And then fruitful, bountiful, a stalk of it! And then a bare stalk, and the bare stalk destroys the large stalk, the bountiful stalk. And he had no idea what it meant. But Joseph was discerning and wise. And he told Pharaoh, "This is what the dream means. We're going to have seven years of prosperity and plenty in Egypt. But after seven years of prosperity there will be seven years of famine". And having said that, he not only identified the problem, but with discernment and wisdom he came up with a solution, a very practical solution for the problem.

Leaders should be wise enough to take responsible risks but not stupid enough to do reckless things. Typically we talk about leaders as being risk-takers! There's an element of truth in that. Every spiritual leader should be a man, a woman of faith that leads the charge. And what we need to learn in leadership is to wait on God and the wise counsel that comes from Him. One final point, generosity. Joseph was a generous man. I see it in so many levels of his leadership. I see it in a personal way, in the way that he gave himself to others throughout his time in prison, in captivity.

Now in his time of prosperity and prominence how he giving himself to his nation, to his country. Ultimately when his brothers, the same brothers that sold him out into slavery come, he gives them grace and generosity of spirit and heart, and he ends up saving the world through this plan that God had given him. God gave Joseph authority for the sake of others. Don't miss that! God gave Joseph authority for the sake of others who would be blessed and benefited by his leadership! It is said of Jesus in Acts chapter 10, verse 38: "God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and power". And what did He do with all of this spiritual power and authority? He went about doing good and healing those who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

And so, when God gives us wealth, worth, prosperity, prominence, why does He give us this authority? Why does He bless us in this way? That we would bless others with the blessing that we've been given. You're in Genesis; turn just a few pages over to Deuteronomy, chapter 8, verses 17 and 18, Deuteronomy 8:17 and 18. Love hearing those pages turn! "Beware lest you say in your heart, 'My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.' You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth that He may confirm His covenant that He swore to your fathers, as it is this day". Then look at verse 19: "And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish".

Strong words! But a powerful reminder that God is the source of everything good in our lives! God is the source of your worth and of our wealth! And everything, therefore, that we have comes from Him! Why? To confirm His covenant on the earth, to advance His cause upon the earth; to bless the world! That's what God has called the Christian to do. That's what God has called the church to do. To confirm His covenant! To establish His work upon the earth! God has given us two wonderful campuses for this church. Ten, twelve, fifteen years ago God saw a field of dreams in west Plano. Already thousands of cars driving down an old two lane road called Hebron.

And God knew there would be people at this corner at this intersection, driving by in this community! And that God could use a church on this property to advance His cause, to confirm His covenant, to establish his work. We heard that call and God blessed us in doing it. God helped us to see a piece of land up at the 380 corridor, knowing that in the next several years thousands and thousands of people are going to be in that region who need Jesus. God said, "Church, this is My dream for you, that you establish My covenant, that you advance My cause, that you confirm the Gospel in that place"! And God had blessed us enough as a church, He had prospered us enough as a people that we could accomplish these goals! Rather than sitting on our premises, we said, "We're going to do what God has called us to do whatever it takes".

This is the reason God has given us influence. This is the reason God has given this church leadership, that we should take leadership in establishing the work of the Gospel. Just what I love about Prestonwood; you have heard the call of God. May God help us to give our families, our finances to Christ. What do you do? Tithing is expressing your gratitude to God, that He is the source of everything you have. Are you a person of generosity? I'm telling you, you can't be the person that God wants you to be unless you are generous person. You can't.

You say, "That's all about the law". No, it's all about love for God and gratitude for what He has done for us. God wants to get His wealth in circulation. God wants to get His wealth in circulation. That's what Joseph did. He managed the wealth that God gave and put it in circulation for the good of the people in the world. And that is what God has called every one of us to do. And if He has blessed us, and yes, He has, with wealth and prosperity and good things, then He will continue to bless us if we make sure we put His wealth in circulation. And I'm going to keep reminding you of this: ninety percent with God goes so much farther than 100 percent without God! It is a miracle but it is true! And may God help us to be people of generosity; that He would use our influence for the cause of Christ.
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