Success is quite an elusive topic to extensively cover considering we all have our individual pre-determined scoring cards of what is an achievement and the lower threshold of what is a failure. I have an enormous quest for knowledge and a thirst to really understand some of the unconventional ways we all, as different persons view and conclude in matters of life in general.
Armed with this desire, i have come across different authors, all who inspired and impacted my general outlook on success…but one kind of altered the entire spectrum of how i have been viewing and understanding the whole concept of success – Malcom Gladwell in his famous bestseller title Outliers – The story of success.
Gladwell seeks to uncover the untold elements of famous grass to glory encounters we hear and stumble upon frequently. He clearly points out the discrepancy and popular notion of self-made success. In this book, he argues success is hugely influenced by our place of birth, values surrounding us,timing and most importantly the people we surround ourselves with.
I like it. However, as i progressed it got me thinking…where does God stand in all this? Does he have a role too in the whole picture of success and future accomplishments? Joseph’s story of grace to glory has been highlighted in the book and how the other factors played a role in his rise. So i went back to the original passage- Bible of course- to try and see if i could get extra information or an overlooked fact of the whole story.
First, Joseph from the beginning gets a head-start by being the most loved and favored of his father Jacob. Since he begot him in his old age.Obviously, this pitches him against his brothers who later, due to jealousy, sell him off into slavery. Now i want us to look at Joseph’s predisposed character, environment and the culture he held dear- in relation to his future success. I would like us to also keep an open eye and mind on whether God predominantly played in his progress.
By nature, Joseph was a dreamer. His dreams sure got him into trouble earlier in his teen life but later on they also turned out to be a blessing in disguise. First, he ends up a servant in an Egyptian officials’ house called Potiphar, as the story unfolds; his master notices that the Lord is with him hence ,he prospers. So Potiphar makes him in-charge of all his servants and possessions. Something negative occurs when he turns down the seductive offer of his master’s wife, which inadvertently ,throws him in prison. The place where the Kings prisoners were confined (wondering if this is a disguised blessing too!). The same pattern still continues…there he finds favor in the eyes of the prison warden who shows him kindness and grants him favor because the Lord was with him. Joseph is put in charge of all those held in the prison and made responsible for all that is done there.
Still with me? It does not matter how well-trained, bred and mannered or richly endowed we are for us to be automatically pivoted to success; some greater invisible force has a major role behind the scenes. Which according to me, is a stark contrast to what we popularly hold true and close to our hearts- self made. It is all Gods will and favor upon us daily. Other things are well beyond rational explanation in the way they happen.
Another idea in my current read is the Matthew effect- a bible verse in Matthew that states; ‘whosoever much has been given, much will be added in abundance and whoever has little even it will be taken away.’ Looking at it generally it seems true. The richest get huge tax pay cut offs, the smartest get scholarships, the most talented get popular and so on…what about the rest? Are they locked out of the success curve? Some, like Joseph, have risen in much unconventional ways because the bottom line lies- God is with them. They do their part and let Him handle the rest as he did with Joseph.
We tend to look at success from a skewed point of view that most times we fail to recognize the role of God in it all. We give credit and overplay certain aspects of the whole circumstance that even though they have contributed to the whole achievement, cannot overshadow the will of the Lord.
Fast forward to Joseph’s success story. The climax is when the Pharaoh, pagan, admits that Joseph is surely being led by God. This unseen power is what makes him discerning and wise. He goes on to place him in charge of the palace and his subjects. Joseph a foreigner. Pharaoh is so amazed that he exclaims, ‘ can we find anyone like this man? One in whom is the spirit of God?’ Its an indirect admission to the works of God despite the individual brilliance, determination and a great character.
It does not matter your place of birth, who favored you or did not, how rich or poor you are ( disadvantages and opportunities still do create the gap); but one thing stands out…do His will and he will Lift you up. No philosophy can go round it. No intellect can go beyond this simple reasoning. God has and still reveals it in all who choose to be led and guided by him daily. Yes He does play, and actually casts the final vote in who he wants you to be. More like the Jonah analogy…eventually he ended up in Nineveh.Is God in your success story?
But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth,and so confirms his covenant ,which he swore to your ancestors as it is today. Deuteronomy 8:18
REF: 1. OUTLIERS-The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
2. NIV BIBLE Genesis chapter 37 & 41