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Watch 2022 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - A Leader Worth Following

Robert Jeffress - A Leader Worth Following


Robert Jeffress - A Leader Worth Following
TOPICS: But God..., Joseph, Life of Joseph, Leadership

Hi I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Whether it's in the workplace, the church, or in your home, every one of us is a leader. And at the same time, each one of us is being influenced by other leaders as well. So here's the question. What makes you a leader worth following? Well today, we're going to discover the answer as it appears in the story of Joseph and his continued leadership during a disastrous famine. My message is titled, "A Leader Worth Following," on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

Stuart Briscoe tells the true story about a pastor friend of his who was going to conduct the funeral service of a war veteran. And some of the friends of the deceased wanted to participate in the service in some way. It was going to be at a neutral venue, and so the pastor came up with the idea that at the end of the service, he would lead these veterans down the center aisle and they would stop in front of the casket, and pay tribute to their fallen friend, and then the pastor would lead them to the side, through a side exit. So the day of the funeral came, and at the climax of the service, the pastor stood in front of the group in the middle aisle, and he led them with military precision down the aisle, they stopped, and in a somber mood, paid respects to the deceased, and then the pastor led them, unfortunately, not through the side door, but mistakenly into a broom closet. From which they had to make a hasty and a very embarrassing retreat.

Stuart Briscoe said there are two lessons that come from that true story. Lesson number one, if you're a leader, you better know where you're going. And lesson number two, if you're following somebody, you better make sure they know where they're going. You know, the world today is crying out for effective leaders. Whether it is churches, or businesses, or voters, everyone is looking for effective leadership. Leaders who demonstrate humility. Putting the interest of those they lead above their own interests. Looking for leaders who demonstrate wisdom in knowing where they're going, and how to get there. And we find both characteristics, humility and wisdom in the leader we're studying right now. His name is Joseph. And today, we're going to discover why Joseph was truly a leader worth following.

If you have your Bibles, turn to Genesis 46. Now, some of you are probably thinking, I can tune out this message, because I'm not a leader. Think again. You know leadership is influence. And if there's anybody you're trying to influence, you're a leader. It may be a business you're leading, it may be a Sunday school class you're leading. It may be your family, your children, your grandchildren, you're trying to influence for Jesus Christ. We're all leaders of someone, hopefully. And Joseph was a leader, as we're going to discover today. Remember where we are in the story of Joseph? We saw last time that after many years, he was finally reunited with his brothers? Yes, the ones who had sold him into slavery, left him in that pit? And not only that, he was reunited with his father Jacob, whom he never thought he would see again.

And the scene closes with these verses in 29-30 of Genesis 46. "Joseph prepared his chariot and went up to Goshen to meet his father Israel," that's another name for Jacob. "As soon as he appeared before him, he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a long time. Then Jacob said to Joseph, 'now let me die, since I have seen your face, that you are still alive'". God's purpose had been served. God had used Joseph to bring the 70 members of his family from Canaan to Egypt in order that they could be preserved. But the story was not over yet. Joseph still faced two formidable tasks in his assignment from God. First of all, now that he had all of his family in Egypt, he had to assimilate these Hebrews into the pagan Egyptian culture. And not only did he have to assimilate his family, he had to still lead the nation through years left in this severe famine. How he did both of those things is a model of effective leadership.

First of all, let's look at how he assimilated his family into the Egyptian culture. He did so by demonstrating humility toward others. Humility, putting the interest of others above yourself. Notice how he did that in his preparation of his brothers to meet Pharaoh for the first time. Look at verse 31. "Joseph said to his brothers and to his father's household, I will go up and tell Pharaoh, and he will say to him, my brothers and my father's household, who were in the land of Canaan, have come to me and the men are shepherds, for they have been keepers of the livestock, and they have brought their flocks and their herds, and all that they have". Now family, "When Pharaoh calls you and says, what is your occupation? You shall say, your servants have been keepers of livestock, ranchers from our youth even until now, both we and our fathers, say that in order that you may live in the land of Goshen, for every shepherd is loathsome to the Egyptians". Emphasize not that you're shepherds, but that you're ranchers, you are keepers of the livestock.

Now, remember, he was doing this for their benefit. He was doing it for Pharaoh's benefit. Accentuate the positive. These are keepers of the livestock. Now, any wise leader has to learn what to say and how to say it. Proverbs 25:11, "Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances". If you're going to be an effective leader, you've got to know what words to say. But just as important, you have to know what words not to say. Sometimes what you don't say is more important than what you do say. Joseph wasn't asking his brothers to lie, to deny that they were shepherds, he said, just leave that part out. Just emphasize the rancher part. Again, sometimes what you don't say is important. And that's what he said, remember, just don't even say shepherds. Say rancher. Now, you see Joseph's humility, not only in the way he prepped his family to meet Pharaoh, but how he presented his family to Pharaoh.

Do you ever remember being in a situation like this where you were going to introduce somebody very important to you to somebody else important to you? Maybe it's a new boyfriend, or girlfriend, or a fiance, and you were all nervous about them meeting your family for the first time, so what do you do? You coach them and tell them exactly what to say, and exactly what not to say. Then comes the big moment when you actually present them, and this is what we have in chapter 47:3. This is really very funny. "Then Pharaoh said to his brothers," here's the big moment, "What is your occupation"? They'd been told over and over again, remember, rancher, rancher, rancher. Not shepherd, shepherd, shepherd. "What is your occupation"? Pharaoh said, "And they said to Pharaoh, your servants are shepherds, both we and our father".

Can't you see Joseph slapping his forehead? Aye, aye, aye, aye, aye. All of this preparation for nothing. But then they went on to say, "For we have come to sojourn in the land, because we have no pasture, so please let us live here". That word sojourn is an interesting word. In Hebrew, it means to temporarily dwell as a stranger. And these brothers realized that Egypt wasn't their final home, it was their temporary home. Remember back in Genesis 15:13, God had said to Abraham hundreds of years earlier, your descendants will dwell in Egypt for a while, but that's not their permanent home, God will lead them back to Canaan. By the way, this idea of a sojourner applies to you and me. The book of Hebrews tells us, we are not permanent residents of this earth. Philippians tells us, our citizenship is in heaven, not in this world. We are just passing through. Heaven is our ultimate destination.

Now, here again we see something of Joseph's wisdom. Look at verse 6. After they made their plea to Pharaoh to live in the land of Goshen, the fertile delta region of Egypt, what does Pharaoh do? He was so moved by their request, he said, "The land of Egypt is at your disposal. Settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land, let them live in the land of Goshen, and if you know of any capable men among them, then put them in charge of my livestock". Remember Joseph was doing this not for himself, he was doing it for his brothers, but he was also doing it for God's purpose. He knew God's purpose was for this nucleus of 70 family members to grow into a powerful nation of three million people 400 years later, who would leave Egypt and come to possess the Promised Land. That's what makes a good leader, humility. Putting the interest of others above himself. And you see that in Joseph.

You know I want you to think about it. Joseph had no obligation to even settle his family in the land of Egypt, he had no responsibility to do that. Especially after his brothers had sold him into slavery. But he gave his brothers not what they deserved, but what they needed, grace. Just like Jesus Christ did for us. We sinned against Christ, it was our sins that nailed Jesus to the cross. But Jesus didn't give us what we deserved, he gave us what we needed. But think about it, Joseph, even after he provided for the survival of his family, he could've said, okay I got you here to Egypt, now you're on your own. I don't want to have anything to do with you. And I sure don't want to ruin my reputation with Pharaoh for your benefit, but he didn't do that. Joseph acted as an intermediary. A go-between between his brothers and the Pharaoh. And that's what Christ does for us.

You know the Bible says, in Hebrews 2:11 that we are Christ's brothers, and he is not ashamed to call us as such. And because we are his brothers, he lives to make intercession for us to God the Father. Ephesians 2:18 says that in Jesus, we have confident access in one spirit to the father. You see, Joseph's humility here in the way he presented and assimilated his family into Egypt. But there was a second challenge that Joseph faced, I mentioned earlier, he had to also still preside over navigating the country and really the world through this severe famine. And he demonstrates wisdom and leadership in how he does just that.

In his biography of Joseph, Chuck Swindoll mentions four qualities that Joseph demonstrated. I want to change those a little bit and expand upon them for a moment. First of all, in how he handled the crisis, Joseph demonstrates initiative. Look at verse 13 of Genesis 47. "Now there was no food in all of the land, because the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine". Remember God had given Joseph some special information. He had said now Joseph, there are going to be seven years of plentiful harvest, followed by seven years of famine. But Joseph didn't just receive that information, he acted on the information. He created that plan by which 20% of the grain would be set aside during the years of harvest to prepare for the years of famine. He was able to see ahead and act accordingly. And that's what a leader does, he takes initiative. Even when others aren't willing to follow.

I remember a quote from LeRoy Eims of the navigators years ago that I still try to live by every day. He said, "A leader is someone who sees more than others see, he sees before others see, and he sees farther than others see". I don't care who you're leading, whether it's a business, a church, or your family, if you're going to be an effective leader, you've got to see more, before, and farther than anybody else in your group sees. That's what makes you a leader. And by the way, the larger the group of people you're leading, the farther ahead you have to be able to see. Joseph was a wise leader, and he demonstrated initiative. Secondly, Joseph illustrates integrity. That's the Mark of a wise leader, integrity. Look at verse 14. "Joseph gathered all the money that was found in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan for the grain, which they bought, and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh's house".

There's a lot of buying of grain going on, which means there was a lot of cash that was passing through Joseph's hands. Now he could've opened up a secret swiss bank account and put some of that money in the bank account, and reasoned, you know, I'm working extra hard, I came up with this idea, I ought to profit from it. After all, Pharaoh won't miss the money anyway. In fact, he would probably like me to have some extra money because of it. He could've done that, he may have gotten away with it. But Joseph didn't do it. He acted with the same integrity that he had since he served in Potiphar's house. What is integrity? The word integrity means wholeness, entireness, completeness, that's what the latin word means, wholeness, entireness, completeness. It means alignment. A person who has integrity has all aspects of his life in line. There's no part of his life that is out of kilter with what he says he believes and the rest of his life. Everything fits together. You can't compartmentalize a person's life. Especially a leader. It's impossible to say now, he may be deceitful, dishonest, and immoral in his private life, but man, he is a wonderful leader otherwise.

Is your life a life of integrity? Are there any secret parts of your life that you just pray never come to light? Is there any part of your life that is out of sync with what you profess to be true? You'll never be an effective leader without integrity. Third, Joseph's wisdom is demonstrated by his insight. His insight, that is giving people what they need, not necessarily what they want. Look at verse 15-19 of Genesis 47. "When all the money was spent in the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, give us food, for why should we die in your presence? For our money is gone. Then Joseph said, give up your livestock, and then I will give you food for your livestock, since your money is gone. So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food in exchange for the horses and flocks, and he fed them with food in exchange for their livestock that year", verse 18, "But when that year was ended, they came to Joseph the next year and said to him, we will not hide from my Lord that our money is spent, the cattle are my Lord's. There's nothing left for my Lord except our bodies and our lands. Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we and our land will be slaves to Pharaoh. So give us seed that we might live and not die, and that the land may not be desolate".

Do you see what's happening here? They spent all their money buying grain, ran out of money. All they had were animals, they gave their animals, they ran out of animals, and now they said Joseph, we don't have anything else to give except ourselves. We'll just sell ourselves to you if you will put us on the public dole. Let government support us. That's all we can do. Now that's what they wanted, but that's not what they needed. Joseph knew that wouldn't be good for them. Why? If they stopped working, they would lose their self-esteem. Did you know God created us to be workers? We are created in God's image. God is a worker, that's why he told Adam, I'm giving you this garden, you cultivate it, and you keep it. We are God-like when we work. That's how God made us. And if the government had simply supported Joseph, the slaves, instead of making them work, the fact is, they would've lost self-esteem.

But also Joseph recognized that if they kept operating that way, and the government kept giving them money, and grain for no work and no labor, government would finally run out of money. Did you know government never creates wealth, ever? Government can only spend wealth. Joseph understood that important principle. And he said, this isn't going to work. Now I realize there are some people who can't work, and the Bible says, we ought to be merciful to them, and assist those who can't work. But those who can work, need to work for themselves. But also to keep our system functioning. So Joseph came up with this ingenious plan. He said, all right I know you're out of livestock, and you're out of money, here's what we're going to do. We're going to buy your land from you, and give you seed in exchange. Now, you plant the seed, and 80% of what you raise, you can keep. 20% you'll give to the government to keep it functioning.

Now you may say, well 20%, that's pretty high. In the Middle East, 50% was the going tax rate, so they were getting off easy with this. How did they respond to that? Look at this, in verse 24 of Genesis 47, "At the harvest, you shall give a fifth to Pharaoh, and four-fifths shall be your own seed of the field, and for your food, and for those of you in your households, and as food for your little ones. So they said, you have saved our lives. Let us find favor in the sight of my Lord, and we will be Pharaoh's slaves". Well you notice the leadership Joseph demonstrates? First of all, he took initiative. And after the initiative, he demonstrates integrity. He could be depended on to do what he said he would do. And then he showed and demonstrated insight. He knew what these Egyptians needed, and he gave them what they needed, not what they necessarily wanted. And finally, he demonstrated innovation. When he came up with this tremendous plan that would help the Egyptians keep their self-esteem, and would keep the government functioning as well.

You know throughout this series I have said that Joseph is a type, a forerunner of Jesus Christ. I want you to think about this for a moment, how Jesus himself demonstrates those four components of effective leadership. First of all, initiative. God made the first move in your salvation and mine. Ephesians 1:4 says, God chose us before the foundation of the world in Christ. We didn't make the first move, God did. Here in his love, John said, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and gave himself as a propitiation, as satisfaction for our sins. God demonstrates first of all, initiative. Secondly, integrity. You can depend on what Jesus says. He said, I will never leave you, nor will I ever forsake you. You can bank on that truth. Jesus can be trusted to do what he has promised to do. Third, God showed insight in his plan of salvation for us.

Somebody said, if man's greatest need had been for money, God would have sent us an economist. If our greatest need was for education, God would have sent us a teacher. If our greatest need was technology, God would have sent us an inventor. But our greatest need was for forgiveness. And that's why God sent us a Savior. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Jesus had the insight to give us what we needed most. And then finally, innovation. I mean, talk about a creative idea. How in the world could a holy God ever be reconciled to sinful man? Only God could've dreamed up an out of the box, out of the lines plan like this. 2 Corinthians 5:21 describes the plan this way. "God made him, Jesus, who knew no sin, to become sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him". Initiative, integrity, insight, innovation. Those qualities are what make Jesus Christ a leader worth following.
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