And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphenath-paneah. And he gave him in marriage Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On. So Joseph went out over the land of Egypt. Genesis 41:45
I can learn a lot from watching the lives of heroes like Joseph and Daniel. Both stood strong in a foreign land. Both paid dearly. But both were eventually honored by heads of state and given new names. They graciously accepted them but managed to keep themselves from embracing a pagan religion. To further honor Joseph, Pharaoh gave him a wife from a region called On. This city was the worship center for the sun god – Ra.
Joseph was surrounded on all sides by people who lived and practiced idolatry. How would he rule this nation without becoming like them? To be respected in authority, wouldn’t he also have to be popular?
Throughout history, God has been generous with instructive protocol when we find ourselves living in alien territory. We are to learn to dwell in the land while cultivating faithfulness to God. These seem mutually exclusive but it is possible to be among a people but not of them. To dwell and still be faithful. Poor leaders, however, feel they must blend in and become like the people they serve. Otherwise, they fear they won’t be respected and certainly won’t be elected again.
I don’t have to move to a foreign country to feel like a foreigner. I can feel that way in my church, at work, and I can also feel peculiar among family. I am God’s daughter before I am anyone else’s friend, employee, daughter, wife, or sister. I am called to be true to Him and do things His way first. If it rubs against the grain of others, I leave the outcome to God. Like Joseph, I may feel out of step and peculiar. It may be permanent but it may also be temporary. When hard times come and others languish for good leadership, people might look to me for the same strength they rejected yesterday.
Trying to fit in is not the way to lead. In a world where true disciples are harder to find and churches are slowly descending into apostasy, it becomes even more critical that I become a leader others can trust even though they may not understand me. The results are up to God. Am I willing to share the stigma Jesus suffered? No one could own Him. His allegiance was heaven bound and his hallmark was faithfulness.
I often fear those who don’t understand me. Help me stand under the pressure. In Jesus’ name, Amen