Teaching Series
Tuesday—Wise Faithfulness in Power

Series: Citizenship
Message: Hopeful Faithfulness in Prison
Preacher: Tim Gillespie*
Reflection: Sam Millen
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Ame Fowler
Live Beyond: Chelsea Mensink
Live Purpose: Emily Ellis
Editor: Becky De Oliveira

*The guest speaker at Boulder Church on Sabbath, July 13, is choosing to preach on a different topic. If you would like to engage with a sermon that corresponds to the Daily Walk, you may watch Tim Gillespie preach about Joseph online.

Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.

Read: Genesis 41:41-49 in The Message (MSG). Note 1–3 insights or questions. 

Reflect: In the introduction of his brand new book, The Pastor in a Secular Age, Ministry to People Who No Longer Need a God, seminary professor Andrew Root shares what his wife Kara, a pastor herself, has been telling him: “The pastor can feel like an odd person,” she says, “living an embarrassingly outdated vocation. At its worst, it can feel like being a full-time employee of the Renaissance Festival, playing a part from an old world that people at times (e.g., Christmas and Easter) appreciate but most often find unnecessary.” Kara continues: “The pastor either becomes the guardian and custodian of declining religion or needs to reinvent himself or herself as a religious entrepreneur, connecting busy, disinterested people with the programs and products of a church.”  

“What is the purpose of being a pastor if it isn’t to build the next megachurch?” Kara asks. “Pastors, she explained, live with a sneaking suspicion that all they’re good for is managing religious stuff that no one really values.” Root adds: “The pastor is like the manager of a video rental or VCR repair store. Few people are upset they exist, and many are nostalgic about their past importance, but all of their training and know-how is needed only in the rarest of cases, such as when you find your dusty wedding video from 1991 in an old box only to discover the reels on the VHS are stuck.” 

Root goes on to make the case that, in actuality, secular people long to be treated pastorally but ironically don’t seek pastoral care from pastors. “For sixteen straight years, nurses, and not clergy, have topped the Gallup poll of the most trusted professions in America,” notes Root. He points out that they “recognize that you need the ministry of another (a place to share your fears, to be comforted and known) as much as you need your blood pressure taken or your bandage changed. Nurses are the most trusted because nurses do ministry.”

So, in the secular society where I live, being a pastor will not make people look up to me as a leader. At times, even church members question whether pastors are necessary, wondering what we do most of the week. This leads to a broader leadership conversation. What makes one a leader in any arena? Many would agree having a lofty title, a position of authority, or an advanced degree does not make anyone a leader. After attending countless seminars, and reading lots of material on leadership, I think John Maxwell said it best: “Leadership is influence.” For good or ill. Some people have an innate ability to influence others. The current trend is to build social media platforms and gain followers online, in order to become recognized as an “influencer” by corporations willing to pay for advertising. Judging by the number of followers I have online, it will be a long time before Ben & Jerry’s will pay for an image of me holding an ice cream cone on Twitter!

Great leaders gain influence because they are trusted, as their ability, integrity, and benevolence are recognized by those around them. Joseph had been a leader for a long time before meeting Pharoah. Pharaoh didn’t make Joseph a leader. He recognized that Joseph was already a great leader. If you have influence you are a leader, and all of us have a measure of influence. Who is influenced by you? Is your influence positive or negative?

Recalibrate: Do you see yourself as a leader? Either way, what can you learn from Joseph’s rise to power?

Respond: Send a thank you note to someone who has ministered to you (it could be a pastor, nurse, or anyone).

Research: Read this insightful article on the role ability, integrity, and benevolence play in inspiring trust and creating influence.

Remember: “So the king said to Joseph, ‘God has shown you all this. There is no one as wise and understanding as you are’” (Genesis 41:39, ICB).

Sam Millen is the pastor at Anacortes Adventist Fellowship in Washington State. After living in five countries on three continents (and five states), he feels at home on Orcas Island with his wife and three kids.

Play a game of How Can I Help? No matter what you and your little one have on your schedule today, take a selfie of the both of you helping each other.  How can I help you climb into your car seat? How can I help you do the shopping? How can I help you while you work or play? The time will come when your child does not need your help to climb in and out of the car but they will remember how you made them feel when they couldn’t do it by themselves. Watch how your little ones help others and you may see a reflection of how you help them.

Joseph was smart, clever, and wise. Pharaoh saw that he was the most qualified to lead in the hard times ahead. Joseph’s wisdom wasn’t because he was so great, but it was a gift from God. Are you a good example of Jesus looking out for others? Play a game of Follow the Leader. Chose a path that shows you are thinking of a smaller sibling or grandparent playing with you. Make the way safe, but also try to do a few challenging things like hopping on one foot around a table or zigzagging around a few chairs. How would you lead differently if someone following had a broken leg?

Because of Joseph’s amazing plan, Pharaoh put him in charge of Egypt. Pharaoh had all the power but he gave it to Joseph because he trusted him and his God. To show his sincerity, Pharaoh took a ring off his own finger called a signet ring and put it on Joseph’s finger. A signet ring had a design that could be pushed into hot wax and turned into a seal. Only orders and documents carrying the Pharaoh’s seal could be carried out. So when Pharaoh gave Joseph his signet ring, it meant that he thoroughly trusted Joseph. He wouldn’t check up on him—he knew Joseph would make the right choices.

Can you imagine being trusted that much? Imagine the leader of your country told you that you were now in charge. He said everything was all up to you and he wouldn’t be checking up on you. What would you do as a powerful leader?

During my junior year of high school, I felt the need to pray for my family. I noticed that for whatever reason I was being unresponsive and rude to them. I hated how I was acting towards them and I just wanted to love them for who they were. So I started to pray that my heart would change and that God would fill me with His love. About one year later after I started to pray that prayer, I noticed how I had nothing but love and acceptance for my family. I realized that it had taken a full year for God to answer this prayer. Usually when we pray to God, we expect an answer right away. However this is not always the case. More often than not it will take a while for us to see that God has been answering our prayer all along. This was the case with Joseph. The time span from when he originally had the dream about his brothers bowing to him and him being sold as a slave to his becoming the second highest official in Egypt was 13 years. It took 13 years before the promise was finally fulfilled in his life. But the key is that it was fulfilled! God keeps His word and His timing is perfect. I don’t know what you are praying about, but I want to encourage you to not give up praying. We don’t always know when God will answer our prayers, or if we will live to see our prayers being answered. Just know that God is hearing and soaking up your prayers.

Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Ame Fowler has fifteen years of youth and children’s ministry experience and has served as a leader with TOP kids. She and her husband enjoy ministry through coffee, and live in Chattanooga, TN.
Chelsea Mensink serves as the family ministries director at Crosswalk Church in Redlands, California. She is a delightful and talented children’s pastor who just oozes fun and love like a squished Twinkie.
Emily Ellis is a junior studying theology at Walla Walla University and interning at the Eastgate Seventh-day Adventist Church.

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