He was the 11th child in a polygamous home filled with strife and envy. Betrayed by his brothers, he was sold as a slave in a foreign land where he was eventually falsely accused by his master’s wife. This slander landed him in a prison.
Yet from the prison, he rose to become arguably the most powerful man of his time.
He was undoubtedly one of the wisest men that ever lived.
Among his various accomplishments, two are quite outstanding:
By the application of divine wisdom and principles in leadership:
One, he created a food surplus that fed the entire world for seven years!1 And this was in the midst of famine.
Two, he bought over the entire human and material resources of a nation!2 He gained absolute dominion over an entire nation.
Joseph entered Egypt as a slave and eventually landed in prison.
However, by the application of the divine wisdom and principles in leadership, he became the master of an entire empire!2
It takes more than luck to achieve such feat.
How did he do it?
Principles are at work
Greatness is not the result of luck. It is the result of the accurate application of divine wisdom and principles in both personal and corporate leadership.
These principles are not obvious to the casual observer. People see the results, but they don’t understand the causes. There are principles at work in the life of any man or woman you see that has attained enviable status.
It is possible to live close to a wise man and be blind to his ways. You just believe he’s lucky. But what you fail to observe is that this man is operating in accordance with certain divine wisdom and principles.
There are principles at work.
Some people have eyes but they can’t see.
What are you learning? What are you observing?
It is possible to be around a great man as he is moving towards greatness and still remain in your smallness and tomorrow wake up to be a servant to someone that was once your classmate!
Are you observant?
So what were the secrets of Joseph?
What were the principles of divine wisdom that he applied thousands of years ago that took him from the prison to the palace?
There were 5 and I love to refer to them as the Polygon of Dominion
Foresight in Leadership
Foresight in leadership will always create distinction and dominion in life
And the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said…3
Foresight in leadership is the ability to clearly discern trends.
It is the perception of the significance and nature of events before they have occurred.
It is an awareness based on spiritual positioning that enables an individual know intuitively what is going to happen next.
It is a preview of a future reality that empowers an individual to take unique steps either to take advantage of coming opportunities or avoid danger.
Egypt had a different economic reality from the rest of the world because they had foresight in leadership. Joseph, a man of foresight, was put in charge.
The bible says that a people without vision perish.4
It’s talking about foresight! It’s talking about seeing far into the future, thinking ahead, planning ahead.
Individuals that can’t see into the future and plan ahead always perish. They exist in shame – they lack honour and dignity. But whenever you see an individual or a group of people that see far ahead and plan adequately, they will always be distinguished.
Individuals who have foresight will always lead others.
A man with foresight, a man who can see ahead and plan ahead will always dominate those who cannot see beyond their noses. For instance, a person who cannot see beyond his nose will always be going to someone who can see far to borrow money. People that lack foresight always serve those who do.
Do you have foresight? Can you see far? Can you look ahead? Can you think ahead? Can you plan ahead?
The Four Elements of Foresight in leadership .
Foresight in leadership is not magic. It is purely a function of four things – sight, light, position, and orientation.
The Sentinel of ancient times illustrates the elements and strategic importance of foresight. He was a special kind of guard that was constantly on the lookout for enemy movements and advances. They were specialy chosen individuals with good sight. Yet they were normally positioned at strategic points and heights such as would enable them see farther than normal. But they also turned their faces in certain directions. The news they brought were very critical to the decisions of entire armies and nations.
Let’s analyze these four elements:
A normal human being is supposed to be born with sight. So sight is essentially a gift from the Creator.
In reality, however, not everyone possesses sight. Sight is not the same as eyes – you can have eyes without sight. Whereas the eye is the faculty, sight is the ability. An eye without sight is a situation where the faculty is there, but the ability is not. This state is called blindness.
There are also those who have deficiencies in their sight. In this case, the faculty is impaired and so affects the ability negatively.
It is the same in the spiritual realms. You are supposed to have spiritual sight.
Foresight in leadership is an aspect of spiritual sight. It’s a gift. It’s an attribute of a normal spiritual existence. It borders on intuition. It is the ability to sense and feel things beyond the natural and immediate. It is essential for success and dominion.
But then, sight without light is useless.
There is no difference between a person with sight and a blind man if he has no light.
The greatest enemy of sight is night. And the best friend of sight is light.
In the spiritual realm, the constituents of darkness are – satan, sin, and ignorance. These will fight sight anywhere and at anytime. And they can incapacitate sight as they continue to do to millions of people today. When people have sight but can’t see, then darkness is at work. It means that satan, or sin, or ignorance, or a combination of these is at work.
Light, however remains the greatest enemy of night. That is why the acquisition of light is your greatest weapon of victory over darkness – Satan, sin, and ignorance. The more light you have, the less power these have over you.
And what is this light?
It is the Word of God5.
The word of God is inclusive of (a) the revelation of the Holy Spirit in the human heart, (b) the Holy Scriptures, (c) the divine wisdom and principles of the universe, and (d) the laws of nature. These are all dimensions of the word of God. The more of these you are acquainted with, the more foresight in leadership you will have, and the more success you experience.
Position will always amplify the output of sight and light.
Men do not light a candle and put it under a bushel.6
A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.7
Position affects the sphere of sight. A certain position will give you a better view of the terrain than another. Position is a relational word. It defines where you are with respect to certain specific coordinates, or with respect to where every other things or persons are.
There are two primary points in the spiritual divide – the flesh and the spirit. Your position is described in relationship with these two coordinates. A man of the spirit is someone whose mental and thought processes are in perfect alignment with divine wisdom and principles. A man of the flesh is someone whose mental and thought processes are out of harmony with the governing laws of the universe.
Contrary to religious thoughts, spirituality has nothing to do with religious affiliations or rituals. It rather has to do with mental alignments and priorities. The mind determines spirituality.8
When your mind is aligned with the principles that shaped the universe, you are truly spiritual. Otherwise, it is carnal.
The alignment of your mind determines what you receive from the realms of the spirit! Success comes from above. Greatness is the product of releases from the supernatural and invisible realms. And the alignment of your mind is a critical factor that determines what and how much you receive.9
The mind determines spirituality. And foresight in leadership is a function of spirituality.
Orientation is related to position but it has more to do with direction – decisions, priorities.
One dictionary defined foresight as the act of looking forward.
Some people are oriented towards the past and present. In other words, the happenings of the past and present determine their decisions. They are locked in either the past or the present. So they are not able to respond to shifts in the system talk less of anticipating coming ones. It is easier to have foresight in leadership when you are oriented towards the future and difficult when all you can think about is yesterday and today.
Dr. Edward Banfield of Harvard University, after more than 50 years of research, concluded that ‘long-time perspective’ is the most accurate single predictor of upward social and economic mobility. Long time perspective turns out to be more important than family background, education, race, intelligence, connections or virtually any other single factor in determining your success in life and at work.
Successful people have a clear future orientation.10 They think five, ten and twenty years out into the future. They analyze their choices and behaviours in the present to make sure that they are consistent with the long-term future that they desire.
In your work, having a clear idea of what is really important to you in the long-term makes it much easier for you to make better decisions about your priorities in the short-term.
This long time perspective gained from foresight in leadership is the first dimension of the polygon of dominion. It is the first secret of Joseph.
Self Control In Leadership
Self Control in leadership is essential for wealth and dominion in life.
This food should be held in reserve …11
Success has ruined more people than failure!
Most people are so carried away by the euphoria of present success and good tide – such as favorable public opinion or financial windfall – that they act in ways that reverse and negate whatever gains they might have made.
Lack of self control in leadership and sobriety can reverse your fortunes in an instant! It can plunge you back to square one in a twinkle of an eye.
Your moment of glory, triumph and success is one of your most vulnerable moments. You are more likely to make wrong decisions at such times. This is why you must be careful.
Sobriety is an element of self control in leadership.
This is why the bible exhorts us to be sober and encourages a sound mind.12
A sober mind is critical for success.13
Excitement is good, but learn how to hold yourself. Learn how to control your emotions. Don’t become a victim of your own feelings. Learn to be calm, cool, and calculated, particularly in your moments of success. This is the attitude of masters, people who dominate the world.
Joseph advised that the benefits of the years of abundance be held in reserve for future use. This is another element of self control in leadership – the ability to delay gratification. It is essential for wealth and dominion in life.
In the excitement of the moment, most people tend to squander up all that they have. They erroneously believe that things will always be like that forever. That is wishful thinking which is misconstrued as faith. Because life operates in circles and seasons.14
This indiscipline – the inability to delay gratification – is mostly seen in the area of personal and corporate finances. The moment people get unexpected financial income or sudden financial favours, they immediately squander it all and deceive themselves into thinking that things will just get better on their own. This is a primary cause of poverty.
Self control in leadership is a product of choice. It is the decision and the ability to endure immediate pain, denial, inconvenience, and hardship in order to enjoy more lasting and more gratifying pleasures.
It is the second dimension of the polygon of dominion – Joseph’s second secret.
Prudence In Leadership
Prudence in leadership is a major key to achieving greatness in life
As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger…15
He was careful.
He was cautious.
He was a reflective individual.
Compare him with his brothers who were careless and reckless.
The quality of prudence in leadership demands that you be a person of meditation, quietness, and reflection.
The accident of birth is not enough to shape your destiny.
It’s within your power of choice to reverse any disadvantages you might have come into this world with and prudence in leadership is a major key to achieving this.
Joseph was cautious in friendship.
This is an important aspect of prudence in leadership.16
He was not too trusting.
He typified the adage, “once beaten, twice shy.”
He took time to test people before trusting them.
He had no grudges against his brothers because he had discerned the higher purpose behind their actions.17 If anything, he was grateful to God for what they did. So he had forgiven them.
But, forgiveness has nothing to do with trust.
Forgiveness is a love gift. It is given.
Trust is a reward – it is earned.
You will never amount to much in life if you are too trusting of people.
Jesus Christ is a perfect illustration of this principle.18
Never never trust people you have not yet tested, no matter what they say or do. You must give enough time to testing people before you commit yourself and your valuable resources to them.
The Fig Tree Syndrome..19
Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to find out if it had any fruit. When He reached it, He found nothing but leaves because it was not the season for figs. And He cursed it!
The fig tree in the bible is often used to represent peoples and nations. Just like the fig tree in this story, there are people that when you see from far, appear to be good, dependable, resourceful and so on. But when you come close and interact with them, you are sorely disappointed.
Observe that Jesus went to find out if it had any fruit.
Prudent people are fruit inspectors
Take time to inspect before you invest.
In building relationships, study before you connect. This will save you lots of heartache.
Prudence in leadership is the third dimension of the polygon of dominion – the third secret of Joseph.
Loyalty In Leadership
Loyalty in leadership is vital to greatness
Joseph collected all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan in payment for the grain they were buying, and he brought it to Pharaoh’s palace…20
Men of loyalty, faithfulness, and integrity are rare.21
Joseph knew where his loyalty lay. He was accountable. He did not try to bite the finger that fed him. He didn’t abscond with the funds. He placed it where it belonged – at the feet of the man who believed in him and gave him the opportunity when he was nothing.
What do you do with the blessings of the Lord? What do you do with the praises that people give to you as a result of your performances?
Herod misplaced his loyalty and paid for it with his life – worms ate him up! 22
Loyalty in leadership demands that you appreciate the foundation of your power, advantages, and blessings. No building can survive a disconnection from its foundation. In the same way, you must remain connected to the roots of your power and privileges, otherwise you are nothing.
The truth of the matter is that you owe all of your resources – life, talents, skills, abilities, opportunities, connections, and positions – to God. How loyal are you? How accountable are you?
Joseph clearly understood the place of Loyalty in leadership.
It is the fourth dimension of the polygon of dominion. It was Joseph’s fourth secret.
Shrewdness In Leadership
Shrewdness in leadership is an indispensible virtue for success and dominion in life
When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians…23
Observe what Joseph did with the food he saved. He sold them.
But to whom did he sell them?
His fellow countrymen! – the people that produced the savings.
Think about it.
He didn’t dash it to them. He sold it.
A classic example of shrewdness in leadership is found in the transaction between Jacob and Esau. Jacob practically said to Esau, “You want some food? You have to buy it.”24 Now, that’s shrewdness!
Do you want to create a surplus of wealth for yourself and future generations? Do you want to dominate your world and reign in life? Then you’ve got to cultivate the virtue of shrewdness in leadership.
Shrewdness in leadership is rooted in objective reasoning.
It is practical, hardheaded cleverness and judgment.
It means that your actions are not determined by your sentiments, but rather by your objectives.
Jacob was bent on obtaining the birth right. That was his goal and objective. And this goal was based on a dream – a divine dream.25 I don’t think he hated his brother. But shrewd men subject their feelings to their objectives. It appears mean and unkind, but that’s the attitude of greatness.
Joseph was bent on creating a surplus that will ensure that the nation of Egypt and the world are not destroyed by the famine. And this goal was based on a dream – a divine dream.26
What would have happened to the nation of Egypt and to the world if he had operated out of pity and sentiment and given away the food for free?
Many people think that they are being kind, whereas the truth is that they are being stupid and foolish. It is good to be generous. But generosity must be strategic, principle-based, and vision-oriented. It must be based on divine wisdom and principles.
The Egyptians were producing the crops. Joseph was collecting and storing 20% of their harvest. And after 7 years when the famine started, he sold it back to them!
He sold their food back to them! Now, that takes a lot of wisdom and shrewdness in leadership.
He could do that because they weren’t learning from him. He was doing something in their midst. They had eyes but they couldn’t see it. They just gave Joseph 20% and squandered the rest!
There were 7 years of abundance but at the end of the seven years, these Egyptians had no food to eat! They had to now come to Joseph – a stranger that came to their land – to buy food. They should have been imitating Joseph if they had been smart. They should have thought, “Why is this man doing this thing? Ok let’s follow suit. While I give Joseph 20% let me keep 20% or 30% for myself. How is Joseph storing it? Let me build a storehouse for myself.” No. They were simply carried away by the abundance of the moment and they paid for it with their liberty – they ended up as slaves to Joseph and Pharoah!
Jesus commended shrewdness.27
An important principle of shrewdness in leadership revealed here is this: Use what you have to acquire what you need.
That was what Jacob did with Esau. He used his position of advantage to obtain the birthright.
Don’t squander your advantages, don’t waste your resources. Put them to strategic use.
Shrewdness in leadership is the fifth dimension of the polygon of dominion – the fifth secret of Joseph.
These five secrets enabled a mere slave, a prisoner in a strange land, to gain mastery and dominion over an entire nation. Study them. Master them. Then apply them in all aspects of your life. It will deliver dominion to you too; dominion over your own spheres.
1Genesis 41:54 2Genesis 47:18-21 3Genesis 41:53 4Proverbs 29: 18a 5Psalm 36:9; 119:105,130; John 1:4 6Matthew 5:15 7Matthew 5:14 8Romans 12:2; Colossians 3:1,2 91 Corinthians 2:14 10Isaiah 46:10; Philippians 3:13; Hebrews 12:2. Observe how God, Jesus Christ, and the Apostle Paul all possess a clear future orientation. 11Genesis 41:36 12Titus 2:6; I Peter 1:13; 5:8 13Romans 12:3; II Timothy 1:7 14Genesis 8:22 15Genesis 42:6-9 16Proverbs 12:26 17Genesis 50:20 18John 2:23-25 19Mark 11:12-14 20Genesis 47:14 21Proverbs 20:6 22Acts 12: 21-23 23Genesis 41:56,57 24Genesis 25:29-34 25Genesis 25: 21-23 26Genesis 41:28-31 27Luke 16: 1-8