Key for Excellence. Genesis 39-40

Summary: Key for excellence post covers 5 areas from Joseph’s life that propelled him to success and excellence. Read this post and be on your way to excellence.

Click for full sermon series on Joseph

Introduction: Do you go about your everyday activities with passion or just endure through the day? We serve a God of excellence and we are called for excellence. Excellence is an attitude that touches every area of your life. True excellence means you dedicate yourself fully to everything you do, as working for the Lord.

Joseph is one among many in the Bible who excelled in whatever he did.

How did Joseph excel? Genesis 39 gives us a glimpse of 5 qualities Joseph possessed that enabled him to excel. These qualities were the foundation for his growing influence while serving Potiphar, after being falsely accused of attempted rape, while serving in the prison, and as the second in command in Egypt.

1. Relationship with God.

Genesis 39:2 The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered. A common theme is woven over and over throughout Joseph’s story is that “God was with Joseph and things went very well with him.”

God is with us if we are with him. James 4:8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Despite the unfair accusations hurled at Joseph, the depth of his relationship with God served as the firm foundation of his leadership and excellence. God’s will for your life is to be like him. God is more interested in who you are than what you are. Therefore, I believe that you are called to be excellent in your relationship with God and from that will flow excellence in your job, marriage, and all areas of life. Excellence begins God.

2. Management Skills.

Joke: A man goes into a pet shop to buy a parrot. The shop owner points to three identical looking parrots and said, “The parrot on the left costs Rs. 500/-) “Why does the parrot cost so much,” asks the man. The shop owner says, “well, the parrot knows how to use a computer.”

The man then asks about the next parrot to be told that this one costs Rs. 1000 because it can do everything the other parrot can do plus it knows computer programming.

Naturally, the increasingly startled man asks about the third parrot to be told that it Rs. 2,000. Needless to say this begs the question, “What can it do?” To which the shop owner replies, “to be honest I have never seen it do a thing, but the other two call him boss!”

Joseph was not a boss like this. Joseph did things with his own hands and climbed the ladder of success. Potiphar put Joseph in charge of all his personal affairs, turning everything over to him.” When Joseph was thrown in prison, the head jailer put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners. Joseph eventually ended up managing the whole operation. Joseph’s excellence in management and organizational skills led to greater influence and responsibility.

You might argue that God simply opened all of the right doors and all Joseph had to do was walk through them. While there may be some truth to that statement, I would suggest that Joseph didn’t hinder God’s blessing because he demonstrated faithful stewardship of the abilities and skills God had entrusted to him. He came to Egypt as a 17-year-old slave but learnt the skill of management. He did not go to BBM or MBA but he did better than our graduates.

Excellence is developed in the details. If you do the little things diligently every day to improve, excellence becomes attainable. It’s all about implementation. Plan to be excellent, and then take every step necessary to fulfill that plan.

3. People Skills.

Joseph had a knack for connecting with people. The Bible says that Potiphar became very fond of Joseph and when Joseph was in prison, God put him on good terms with the head jailer. His God-given relational skills put him on good terms with people and fostered relational equity with others in positions of influence. Theodore Roosevelt said, “The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.” Joseph mastered that skill.

4. Unwavering Personality.

a. Character.

Joseph had repeated opportunities to sleep with Potiphar’s wife, but he resisted every one of them. Genesis 39:7 After a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”

Genesis 39:10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.

Andy Stanley says, “Your accomplishments as a leader will make your name known. Your character will determine what people associate with your name.” Although Potiphar was furious, he had always associated Joseph’s name with character and integrity. Perhaps, in the depth of his soul, Potiphar knew Joseph was innocent.

How do you develop a Christian character? Romans 5:3-4 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character hope. Joseph went through this cycle and a true Christian character was produced.

b. Earned Trust.

You cannot demand people to trust you. Trust is earned over time by consistent and honorable behavior. When Potiphar’s wife tried to entice Joseph to sleep with him, he responded: Genesis 39:8-9 8But he refused, “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has enthused to my care. 9No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?

Joseph earned trust with his boss and he wasn’t about to sacrifice it on the altar of momentary pleasure. Craig Weatherup said, “You don’t build trust by talking about it. You build it by achieving results, always with integrity and in a manner that shows real personal regard for the people with whom you work.”

c. Appearance.

Genesis 39:6 Joseph was well-built and handsome. Joseph was so handsome that Potiphar’s wife wanted to sleep with him. You don’t have to be a knock-out model or dress like a Hollywood star to be a leader. But I do believe you need to take care of yourself, exercise a bit, use good hygiene, eat healthy, and manage your weight.

5. Perspective.

On thing that pulls you through the crisis of life is having the right perspective in the Lord. Passing through life is not that easy. We all go through tough times, setbacks, failure of dreams, job loss but your perspective pulls us through.

Joseph’s ability to maintain the right perspective allowed him to finish well. Having perspective enables us to successfully navigate tests, trials, and seemingly unfair circumstances. It gives us the ability to see God at work when it would be easier to jump ship. And when Joseph’s brothers kneeled before Joseph trembling with fear (ultimately fulfilling his dream), Joseph allowed perspective to win the day: Genesis 50:20-21 20You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21So then, don’t be afraid, I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

That is true, God-honoring perspective at work. Few leaders have it…but it’s a game changer in leadership.

Illustration: A young boy wanted to help his widowed mother make ends meet by finding employment in vacation time. He worked for a Scottish shoemaker, a man named Dan Mackay. He was a forthright Christian and his little shop was a real testimony for Christ in the neighborhood. The walls were literally covered with Bible texts and pictures, generally taken from old-fashioned Scripture Sheet Almanacs, so that look where one would, he found the Word of God staring him in the face. There was John 3:16 and John 5:24, Romans 10:9, and many more.

On the little counter in front of the bench on which the owner of the shop sat was a Bible, generally open, and a pile of gospel tracts. No package went out of that shop without a printed message wrapped inside. And whenever opportunity offered, the customers were spoken to kindly and tactfully about the importance of being born again and the blessedness of knowing that the soul is saved through faith in Christ. Many came back to ask for more literature or to inquire more particularly as to how they might find peace with God, with the blessed results that men and women were saved, frequently right in the shoe-shop.

It was the boy’s chief responsibility to pound leather for shoe soles. A piece of cowhide would be cut to suit, then soaked in water. He had a flat piece of iron over his knees and, with a flat-headed hammer, pounded these soles until they were hard and dry. It seemed an endless operation to him, and it wearied him.

What made my task worse was the fact that, a block away, there was another shop that the boy passed going and coming to or from my home, and in it sat a jolly, godless cobbler who gathered the boys of the neighborhood about him and regaled them with lewd tales that made him dreaded by respectable parents as a menace to the community. Yet, somehow, he seemed to thrive and that perhaps to a greater extent than the boy’s employer. The boy noticed that he never pounded the soles at all, but took them from the water, nailed them on, damp as they were, and with the water splashing from them as he drove each nail in.

One day the body ventured inside. He said, “Sir, I notice you put the soles on while still wet. Are they just as good as if they were pounded?” The man answered, “They come back all the quicker this way, my boy!” Feeling the boy had learned something, he related the instance to his boss and suggest that he was perhaps wasting time in drying out the leather so carefully. Mr. Mackay stopped his work and opened his Bible to the passage that reads, “Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

“Harry,” he said, “I do not cobble shoes just for the four bits or six bits of money that I get from my customers. I am doing this for the glory of God. I expect to see every shoe I have ever repaired in a big pile at the judgment seat of Christ, and I do not want the Lord to say to me in that day, ‘Dan, this was a poor job. You did not do your best here.’ I want Him to be able to say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’” Then he went on to explain that just as some men are called to preach, so he was called to fix shoes, and that only as he did this well would his testimony count for God.

Conclusion: Friends, whatever you are doing, you are doing it for the Lord. Be it be raising a family, working, studying or ministering. God has called you for excellence.

Excellence does not compare itself to others. Instead, people who are excellent benchmark their performance against themselves because they know God judges us not by our harvest but by what has been given to us. Luke 12:48 From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Don’t look outward to measure your excellence; instead look inward and compare your growth to where you were in the past. Galatians 6:4 Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride without comparing himself to somebody else.

If Joseph can pull through his difficulties and fulfill the dream of his life, it is possible for all of us to excel in every area of our lives. Commit your life, family, career, spiritual life, ministry, and business to God. Tell God, I am not going to be mediocre but I am going to tap on your favour and work for excellence.

Click for full sermon series on Joseph