One of my favourite authors is Malcolm Gladwell. He is a terrific writer and I just love the way he writes his stuff. I recently stumbled upon his latest work I believe, which is David and Goliath and having read just the introductory chapter, I was amazed once again how he brought me to see another perspective on the famous bible tale of the dwarf who slayed the giant.
I’ll be doing something similar to that today with the story of joseph of the bible; the young Hebrew boy who went to a foreign land and was made a prime minister there, against all odds. Joseph is a good example of a man who rose from the gutter into stardom. A man who was one day a failure and the next a success. Who defiled all existing status quo and set new standards in a place he had no business being in the first place. An example we all in some way would love to pattern our lives after or at least pray to God to make of us as well.
Let me give a brief summarized story of joseph. First he was a boy his father loved but his brothers envied. Also he had a gift, a talent; he could dream dreams and give interpretations to them. Somethings led to some other things and his brothers envy went overboard to the extant they decided to sell him into slavery. And while in slavery, he rose up the ranks from being the new slave to being the steward in charge of all his master’s business. The bible didn’t really tell us how he did it; it only told us of the results his methods produced which was that his master saw that everything he place in Joe’s hands prospered. Hopefully by the end of this article, I’ll suggest what probably led to that. From his master’s house he found himself in prison for what he knew nothing about. And while in prison, from being the latest inmate, Joe became that prisoner that was trusted with the responsibility of being in charge of other prisoners (the lad was living like the warden). He rose again. How? We’ll soon find out.
Then on a faithful day, he was summoned by the king to INTERPRETE a dream. That night, Joe shaved his beards and prepared himself to meet the king. Then he interpreted the dream and ALSO gave a solution to the impending problem the country was about to face. And so he was made the prime minister.
Now that is only a summary. There are parts I didn’t emphasize. But growing up, we’ve always read this story and felt that the key to joseph’s success story was God’s favour. And so we pray a lot for favour. At other times, what we glean out from his story is how helpful gifts and talents could be. And so we pray for talents and abilities because as we say it ‘a man’s gift will make room for him’. Others find some other lessons that space and time won’t permit me to mention here. Now those stuffs are not wrong; but i don’t believe that’s all we can see from this story. I believe some crucial points are often not noticed or mentioned when Joe’s story is being said. Here are some:
First is his ability to recognize an opportunity and to make the most of it. When he was interpreting the butler’s dream, he didn’t have to shave but for a king, he had to look like he could provide a solution. He recognized the opportunity as a ticket into bigger stuffs and so he didn’t treat it lightly.
An opportunity well taken today will present us greater opportunities tomorrow.
Second which is my main point of emphasis is that he was an extra-miler. All he was required to do was interpret the dream of the king. But joseph having it engrained in his character to always go the extra mile and do more than what Is required, not only interpreted the dream but also, suggested a solution to the problem at hand. And so he was made prime minister not because he prayed and fasted; not even because he had the gift of interpreting dreams but more because he had a culture of going the extra mile.
That was probably his method at Potiphar’s (his master) house and at the prison that made him get promoted the way he was when he was at those respective places. Talent is never enough for greatness, hard work and diligence must be mixed with it to produce greatness. God detest slothfulness and life rewards anyone who is willing to do more and give more. Ever wondered why people are paid extra for working over-time. They don’t just get paid extra, they are paid more per hour worked because it is a principle of life. And so if all you were to cover was 10 miles to get 100 percent, an extra 1 mile will not provide you an extra 10%; but rather, it could provide an extra 100 percent where possible.
Organizations world over are looking for employees who will not only do what they are paid to do, but rather over and above that. Those are the kind of people they employ and they are also the ones that get the promotions and pay raise whenever the opportunities arise. Ralph waldo Emerson said that if a man writes a better book, preaches a better sermon, sings a better song, or builds a better mouse trap than his neighbour; though he makes his home in the forest, the world would make a beaten path to his door step.
There are obviously other things we can learn from joseph’s story, but this one I believe is crucial. So I encourage that you do that extra today and see what tremendous magic it could do for you.
Soaga Afolabi Olusegun
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