Excel where you are

He lived with his values at his side, and Joseph was a prosperous man … An interesting thing about literature is that congruent beliefs are not prerequisite to reading it. Some materials are factual, others fantasy. Some are mythology, others are foundational materials supporting religion. Some are scientific, but the depending upon when it was written, it may as well have been science fiction.

Particularly memorable sources contain extensive examples, stories, parables, or case studies that illustrate the relevant messages, or salient points. Those stories likewise demand nothing special regarding readers’ beliefs. They simply require readers to seek to understand the relationships outlined in the narratives. Depending on the authors, the vocabulary may be challenging because most people choose to not read more than is required of them after leaving high school. Otherwise, any materials sufficiently language-translated and not so culturally idiosyncratic as to make them too difficult to understand may serve as learning tools.

One source of text that is full of life-lessons that are often applied independently of beliefs is The Bible. It has been translated into a plethora of languages and doctrinal varieties. It has been quoted, paraphrased, and co-opted for many purposes. But, no matter the setting in which its contents are applied, with biblical references and language updated for contemporary application, dialogue regarding its portrayal of the good, the bad and the ugly have educational value.

The story of Joseph, enslaved to Potiphar of ancient Egypt, is one example of a biblical story that survives for modern application. (Genesis 39-41).

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While still young, Joseph was sold into slavery by jealous and angry brothers. He was eventually purchased by a wealthy Egyptian named Potiphar. Joseph grew in stature, knowledge, and wisdom. Learning to manage all of Potiphar’s estate and household finances exceedingly well, Potiphar prospered. Potiphar’s wife wanted Joseph’s attention as well. But, rejected by the brilliant, attractive young man, Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph of a #MeToo advances. Placed in a socially awkward position, the scenario that required some public recompense to assuage her alleged shame at the hands of a slave. So, knowing better, and at a great personal loss, Potiphar sent Joseph to prison.

The prison was probably a for-profit enterprise. And, soon after Joseph’s imprisonment began, he found himself managing the institution in spite of his unfortunate position as an inmate. It is likely that within the bounds of acceptable appearances, he was protected and treated as well as could be reasonably allowed. And, we can be sure that the prisoners were appropriately mannered and the prison did well under his guidance. We can likewise presume that his supervisory jailor was rewarded for his judicious, changing the facility to a model of efficacy.

Not too long afterward, the Egyptian Pharoah became deeply troubled by a recurring dream that none of his priests and officials could interpret. One of Pharoah’s staff who had been temporarily imprisoned with Joseph remembered Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams. So, Pharoah summoned Joseph to him. Hearing of Joseph’s history, his beliefs, his commitment, loyalty, wisdom and effectiveness in all responsibilities, the Pharoah accepted Joseph’s dream interpretation. Not only did Pharoah accept the interpretation, but he exonerated Joseph, released him from prison and made Joseph second only to himself.  Joseph would soon be responsible for saving his kingdom from the scourge of a future famine that would last seven years, devastating all other kingdoms around Egypt. And, so it came to pass. Joseph saved the nation of Egypt, rose immediately to be the second most powerful person in the country, and was awarded a high priest’s daughter to marry. He and Egypt prospered, right where Joseph resided, in spite of apparently overwhelming odds against him.

Joseph persisted in honoring his beliefs, developing, behaving in a forthright, diligent, righteous manner. And, Joseph saw success.

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Sometimes, in spite of the surrounding turmoil, it is best to learn, develop, become skilled and excel right where you are.

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