There is a tendency for people; leaders included, to constantly seek the latest new fangled idea, the proverbial silver bullet which will help the leader achieve his or her goals in an instant.
However, my personal observation and experience is that often the keys to success and prosperity are within us, within our grasp and reach and not outside of us.
In the narrative, we see how Isaac, the central character in the story, not only survived but thrived in an environment that was economically challenging, socially hostile and politically volatile.
1.The first thing that we learn about Isaac is that he had seed.
What do you do with crops? You plant them, which was exactly what he did. As he did so, God blessed him. He became rich, his wealth continued to grow and he became very wealthy.
2.Secondly, we see that he began a programme of re-opening old wells that his father, Abraham, had dug, but which the Philistines had filled and blocked up over time. This was a continuous process. When he was driven from one well, he went and re-opened another. When a dispute arose, he went and dug new ones. As did fresh water flowed from those wells, enabling him to grow his crops.
What is often overlooked is the man’s capacity to stay flexible, agile and resourceful in the face of hostility prompted by jealousy and anger. These key qualities provide us with vital insights as to what it takes to prosper as leader or as an individual in a climate of opposition and strife.
The first thing is that we must use what we already have.
Isaac had servants; he deployed them in his farm. He had seed; he planted. He inherited wells from his father Abraham, albeit blocked up; he reopened them. When jealousy led to conflict from his neighbours, he deployed his servants to dig new wells. What we see throughout is the actions of a leader who leveraged the resources were already in his hands. All he needed to succeed and prosper were within and around him.
Isaac’s story presents a challenge to every leader. We tend to look over the fence and across our front lawn and think the grass is greener, but when we move out, we see that it is nothing but Astroturf.
The lessons are clear: the effective and prosperous leader asks, ‘What do I have in my hands? What do I have that I can use to make a change in the lives of those I lead and the community I am responsible for leading? To prosper, use what you have, staying flexible and agile, refuse to play the excuse or lazy game.
As the situation on the ground changes, you adjust your game plan. As you do so, you will, like Isaac, surely prosper – super-abundantly.
The story of Joseph again provides us with the case study that helps us to explore the subject of a leader’s inner life and competence. The phase of Joseph’s life that forms the basis of this article is when he was serving in the house of his Egyptian master, Potiphar. We read that God was with him and made him to prosper in his work. His master saw this and put him in charge of his entire household. As a result of Joseph’s excellent management of his master’s estate, God blessed Potiphar, both in the house and in the field. His master so trusted Joseph, that everything was left in his hands.
From a leadership standpoint, what is evident is that Potiphar’s estate became the platform or environment in which Joseph’s administrative, supervisory, managerial and leadership skills were honed. He thrived in that high trust high discretion environment.
However, as Joseph continued to grow in his role, Potiphar’s wife wanted to have a sexual relationship with him. Joseph rebuffed her advances. Feeling spurned, his master’s wife accused him of rape, the result of which was that Joseph was thrown into prison.
Joseph was a man of great integrity, an unimpeachable character. His imprisonment was clearly an act of great injustice. Throughout his season of service in Potiphar’s house, he maintained his testimony as a leader and refused to be compromised. He understood that there were areas that were off limits to him, especially his master’s wife. He made sure that he did not violate that or any other boundary.
Joseph’s life presents a challenge to us all, especially leaders.
Firstly, leaders must guard their inner life.
Secondly, leaders should recognise that their position of responsibility is a privilege to serve and serve well, and not a carte blanche that allows them to forage into areas that are legally and morally off limits. For every leader, there are areas that are marked, ‘Off limits’ or ‘No trespassing’. Joseph was a man who combined character and competence to produce outstanding outcomes. He operated out of a position of integrity, deploying his skills to produce great results.
Copyright Emmanuel Mbakwe 2017©
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About the Author:
Emmanuel Mbakwe is a Pastor, an apostolic leader, business advisor, leadership coach, mentor, and published author. He is the immediate past General Overseer of the Apostolic Church UK. His vision and heart’s desire is to help people realise their God-given potential and fulfil the purpose of God for the life.