Learning from Joseph

In February, I was talking to Lester, an elderly gentleman who was visiting my church, during potluck. We were hashing out a controversial point that was made during our adult Sabbath school discussion that morning and our conversation wandered to Ellen White’s writings. He advised me by saying,”Another way to understand the history of the world and God’s plan for humanity is through reading Conflict of the Ages from beginning to end”. Taking Lester’s advice, I began reading the first book of the series, Patriarchs and Prophets. Every chapter has corresponding Bible chapters that I read first before reading P&P. This has become my nightly devotion and I have learned so much from my readings!

I have been reading about one of my favorite Biblical characters, Joseph (Genesis 37-50). Joseph’s show of integrity and faith throughout his trial is such a powerful lesson! Ellen White writes the following about him in Patriarchs and Prophets:

How was Joseph enabled to make such a record of firmness of character, uprightness, and wisdom?–In his early years he had consulted duty rather than inclination; and the integrity, the simple trust, the noble nature, of the youth bore fruit in the deeds of the man. 222

There are few who realize the influence of the little things of life upon the development of character. Nothing with which we have to do is really small. The varied circumstances that we meet day by day are designed to test our faithfulness and to qualify us for greater trusts. By adherence to principle in the transactions of ordinary life, the mind becomes accustomed to hold the claims of duty above those of pleasure and inclination. Minds thus disciplined are not wavering between right and wrong, like the reed trembling in the wind; they are loyal to duty because they have trained themselves to habits of fidelity and truth. By faithfulness in that which is least they acquire strength to be faithful in greater matters. 223

Procrastination has always been my vice. I have a terrible tendency to push things off to the last minute. From household chores to schoolwork to working out–almost all categories in my life are affected by my bad habit. Funnily, when I’m scrambling to finish something that I’ve left undone until the last minute, I promise myself that I’ll never procrastinate again.

Hah! Yeah right.

And what am I doing in the meantime, you ask? When I should be getting stuff done? I wish I could say I was saving the world but unfortunately, it’s nothing quite so important. It’s usually small things such as reading a book or watching TV or talking on my phone or online.

Now I know that my bad habit does not calculate in a formula for success in medical school so I’ve been working on changing, sometimes with success and sometimes without. Coincidentally (or divinely), I began to read about Joseph and the above quote resonated deeply with me.

Joseph made a habit of attending to duty first. He did not follow his inclination to kick back and read papyrus scrolls or send messages in the sand to his friends or watch camels wrestling. He was faithful and dutiful in his daily work. This trait prepared him for the long years ahead of slavery, where his quality of work and faithfulness were recognized by his masters and blessed by God. He came into great position because he never wavered in his faith or in performing his duties.

He remained loyal to his faith despite the fact that he was living among Egyptians. His actions were a testimony of God’s goodness and his masters came to respect him and his God. Because it had been his practice to honor God daily in all that he did, he continued to honor and trust God while he was a slave.

I have been prayerful that with a conscientious effort on my part to stop procrastinating and do things in a timely manner, that God will help me remove bad tendencies and form a character in me that will be able to withstand all trials that may come my way.

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