A Leader Who Finished Well
If there was ever a man who could have justified quitting, it was Joseph. It seemed that with every choice Joseph made to honor God, his difficulties increased. Yet, in the last chapter of Genesis, Joseph finishes his race with a sweet spirit.
I believe we would all like to say with Paul, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). Finishing the race doesn’t happen by accident. Let’s examine what brought Joseph to the finish line and how we, too, can finish with joy.
Finishing well begins with faith.
A Christian’s race is not just difficult—it is impossible. Thus faith is essential to the Christian life, for “without faith it is impossible to please [God]” (Hebrews 11:6). Joseph recognized that God alone could get him across the finish line, and he placed his faith in God’s promises.
Romans 10:17 describes how we gain faith: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” The Bible is integral to building faith. God’s Word must be given the preeminence in our own lives, and then in our ministry. There is no substitute for purposeful time daily spent in God’s Word. How can you cling to promises you do not know? How can you follow directions you have not heard? How can you lead where you have not been?
Joseph’s spectacular ending was rooted in a solid beginning—faith in God. If we will finish well, we must start with faith.
Finishing well is accomplished through faithfulness.
Approximately thirteen years passed between the dreams God gave Joseph and God’s fulfillment of those dreams. In the meantime, Joseph faced one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after another. Yet he expressed his faith in God through his faithfulness to God.
Even through the dark days, God’s mercy sustained Joseph. Four times Scripture specifically points to God’s presence in Joseph’s life. “But the Lord was with Joseph…” (Genesis 39:21).
God’s continual presence is the guaranteed provision of every child of God. Every leader will be tested. Whatever the test, however dark the valley, remember that the God who was with Joseph will “never leave thee nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).
Refuse to quit during the tough times. These are the greatest opportunities we have to express our faith in Christ through our faithfulness to Him.
Finishing well requires forgiveness.
Imagine the shock Joseph’s brothers experienced when Joseph revealed his identity with the simple words “I am Joseph” (Genesis 45:3). Their consciences were so troubled that they “could not answer him.” But Joseph’s response was one of grace. “And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life” (Genesis 45:4–5).
You can keep score of the offenses that come your way, storing them in a mental gunny sack, but if you do, you must carry this load of unforgiveness everywhere you go. A better choice is to dump them all out at Jesus’ feet and ask for His help to forgive.
When we release our offenses, we are able to focus on God’s sovereignty that works all things “together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Finishing well for God does not mean finishing perfect—we are all a “work in progress.” Finishing well does not mean finishing uninjured—we will all be wounded, sometimes even by those who are closest to us. Finishing well does not mean finishing with a bestowal of human accolades—we measure success differently than God does.
Finishing well does mean finishing. Don’t drop out of the race. The endurance to stay in the race requires faith in God’s Word, faithfulness to God’s will, and forgiveness by focusing on God’s character.