Joseph found favor in his master’s sight and became his personal attendant. Potiphar also put him in charge of his household and placed all that he owned under his authority. From the time that he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house because of Joseph. He left all that he owned under Joseph’s authority; he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.
“The warden put all the prisoners who were in the prison under Joseph’s authority, and he was responsible for everything that was done there. The warden did not bother with anything under Joseph’s authority, because the Lord was with him, and the Lord made everything that he did successful.” – Genesis 39:21-23
A few years ago, two female youth corpers were deployed to our organization. The difference in the conduct of the two of them was like the difference between night and day! The only similarity between them was that they were both from the same part of Nigeria. For one, no matter the assignment delegated to her, she found every reason not to do it. But she could spend hours doing her make-up even in the office. At the slightest opportunity, she would not show up at work. When rebuked, she would sulk and showed little or no remorse. On several occasions, I sat down to give her fatherly counsel because she was the same age as my daughter. Yet, she saw no reason to change!
The other was a sharp contrast. She enjoyed work and she was able to get so much done. When she was not going to come to the office, she would call to excuse herself. She applied herself to every assignment given to her and with little or no supervision, made herself a dependable person when it came to performance. If you were in my shoes, who would you naturally flow towards in getting things done? No marks for guessing right! Till date, I am in touch with her whereas I cut off communication from the other one even before she left at the end of their primary assignment.
One currency of great leadership is dependability. If you seek to be influential, learn to develop diligence without supervision. If you only work hard because you want to be noticed or because you need a good appraisal from the boss, you are no different from the vast majority of people who hardly stand out. Everybody, even the untrustworthy, seeks someone to trust. It is the reason why a robber would keep the money he stole in a bank instead of under his bed! How many people can depend on you?
In the story of Joseph, the Bible made it clear that both Potiphar and the jail supervisor whom Joseph served at different points in his life hardly bothered about the outcomes of delegated assignments because they trusted him whole-heartedly. In Potiphar’s house, Joseph came in as a slave and in a short while, became his master’s Personal Assistant. The story, when he became a prisoner, was no different. We are not told that he became influential in the prison because Potiphar gave him a personal recommendation to the prison warder! You may say that Joseph got the attention he got because God gave him favour. But you also need to ask why God gave him favour. Joseph positioned himself for distinction! His literal coat of many colours that distinguished him from others before his brothers took it off his back, actually played out symbolically when he found himself out of familiar territory. Your distinction is not in the gaudiness of your dressing but in the quality of your character.
Wherever they are, influential people distinguish themselves and stand out from the pack, not because of what they wear, but because of what they bear! They are known for their contribution, not their competition. They are like the proverbial goldfish that has no hiding place! Joseph wasn’t the most senior slave in Potiphar’s house. Neither was he the longest-serving prisoner in the jailhouse. But he easily rose to the top!
Influential people carry a burden for execution. They are DOERS. Talk is cheap – except of course you are making an international call on a GSM phone! As the Chinese say, “talk does not cook rice”. Anybody can talk about or analyze a problem. What distinguishes a leader from others is that he converts those problems into solutions.
My daughter had her youth service in Anambra State, several hours’ journey from where we live. As if that was not enough, she was posted far from the state capital to teach in a secondary school in a village where several basic amenities were lacking. Most of her students sat on the floor to learn. Only the ones whose parents could afford it brought their own desks and chairs to school. Many of her colleagues complained bitterly and sought to influence their posting out of that environment that they felt was not conducive both for work and for sojourn. My daughter saw an opportunity to make a difference. She started an appeal to raise funds to make as many desks and chairs as she could for the students as her community development project. My wife and I partnered with her and spoke to some of our friends. Together, we were able to raise a substantial amount of money with which she furnished several classes with desks and chairs. The local carpenter that she employed for the job was literally overwhelmed because he probably had not handled a job of that magnitude in a long while. She became a local celebrity in the village. What she did eventually got to the ears of the relevant authorities. She was recommended for and received a State Award.
You do not influence others by what you do for yourself. Influence begins by making a difference for one person at a time. If you cannot add value to one, you cannot add value to many. The hindrance to the influence capacity of several people is that they are constantly looking for the big opportunity to do something significant that people will notice. If you are like that, you got it all wrong. Your big opportunity is in that young, brilliant boy or girl in your neighbourhood who, by virtue of poverty or the loss of a parent, has to hawk wares early in the morning before going to school and immediately upon return from school if his/her fees are to be paid or if they must have food at home. It is in the person around you who has not changed his clothing or shoes in a while. It is in that person that you know who skips meals not out of pleasure but out of lack. If all you do is rue the social dysfunction that produced those conditions, you are no different from the several others around them.
You only position yourself for significance when you solve problems for others, one person at a time!… continued.
Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!