It’s hard to imagine what was going through Joseph’s mind. For 40 years he imagined this moment — He saw his brothers. (Reread Genesis 42, it’s fascinating.) When he was just a teenager these brothers staged his death, sold him to some travelers as a slave, and lied to their father about his disappearance.
- For 40 years his brothers owned the secret.
- For 40 years Joseph wondered what he might do if he saw them again.
And here they were. Penniless and in desperate need of food. And here was Joseph. The man with the power to silently execute judgement on them. They didn’t recognize him and no one in the room knew they were his brothers.
He held all of the power over their life and death.
And here was his moment of confrontation! He had the power to do whatever he wanted to them!
Leading Without Anger
Inside Joseph screamed this truth: They wanted to destroy me. They wanted me dead. They lied to our father.
But. BUT. BUT…
They didn’t have the power to harm me. They didn’t have the power to destroy me.
And I do…. so what am I going to do?
He lead without anger. He made the radical choice to not empower the voice of revenge. He made the choice to not execute judgement. He made the choice, instead, to give power to leading his people forward and towards a new life.
We Have to Make This Choice
Leading with and without anger looks the same. There is only a silent difference between driven by a dream and driven by anger. Only you will truly know. Like Joseph, leading without anger is a daily, intentional choice to make.
In my own life I am very competitive. I’m driven by dreams and aspirations, some of which are decades old while others are brand new. There’s a fine line between wanting to do my very best, wanting to “win” versus wanting others to lose. [Sidenote: I'm a golfer. We view competition differently than football players. Wanting to win is not truly wanting others to lose. Golfers cheer for one another, wanting everyone to do their very best, while at the same time trying to win. That's why Ernie Els consoled Adam Scott in the scorers tent at the British Open, he was happy he won but sad his friend lost by not playing his very best.]
I do have things that could allow me to be driven by anger. (We all do.) There’s temptation there. There’s energy to be found in relying on anger to drive your dreams.
But doing that give your adversaries, those who have sought to harm or even destroy your work, all the power. It’s leaning into the sin of the Garden instead of the redemptive hope found in Jesus.
True power is not in the execution of revenge, it’s in having the opportunity for revenge but choosing redemption.
“Do not be overcome with evil. But overcome evil with good.”