Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house.
—Genesis 47:14

In Genesis 47, Joseph illustrates wisdom in leadership. First, a wise leader demonstrates integrity. We see Joseph’s integrity in verse 14: “Joseph gathered all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan for the grain which they bought, and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house.” Joseph was in charge of this grain-for-money program. During the seven years of famine, people would purchase the grain that Joseph had wisely stored up. He would take their money and give them the grain. What did Joseph do with the money? Well, he was second in command. If he wanted to, he could have kept some of that money for himself. No one would have been the wiser for it. But he didn’t do that because he had integrity.

Next, wise leadership exemplifies itself in insight. “When the money was all spent in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, ‘Give us food, for why should we die in your presence? For our money is gone’” (v. 15). Joseph had the insight to give the people not what they wanted but what they needed. When the people ran out of money, they came to the government and said, “We are out of money, but we are still hungry. Give us grain so that we might live.” Now it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that had the government continued to give grain, they would have run out. Joseph understood that it would hurt the nation if he bankrupted the country. But not only that, it would destroy the people’s self-esteem by giving them grain without them having to work for it. Thank goodness they had a leader like Joseph who had the insight to give them not what they wanted but what they needed.

Finally, Joseph demonstrated wisdom through his innovation. The people said, “Please just give us grain.” Joseph said, “No, I can’t do that.” Then they said, “We will become your slaves. You can take our land if you will give us something to eat.” But Joseph had a better idea. He said to the Egyptians, “The government will buy your land from you and in return, we will give you seed so that you can plant and harvest your own grain. You can keep 80 percent of the grain that you harvest and send 20 percent to us in repayment of our giving you the seed.” It was a win-win situation. The tax rate among other countries at that time was 50 percent. But Joseph was saying, “We’ll let you keep 80 percent. We’ll just keep 20 percent.” Joseph had great innovation.

Some of you are thinking, “That’s great advice for leaders, but what about those of us who are not leaders?” The fact is, all of us are leaders. A leader is simply somebody who influences somebody else. Maybe you’re trying to influence a customer or employer. Maybe you’re trying to influence your spouse or your children. If you’re a Christian sharing your faith, you are trying to influence that non-Christian to accept Christ as Savior. You are a leader. The only question is, are you an effective leader?

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Lessons in Leadership” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.