One of the toughest challenges we face is managing our behavior when we find ourselves “stuck” between the declaration of our destiny and the fulfillment of our destiny. We can learn a lot from Joseph, who not only waited years for his destiny to be fulfilled but endured hardships, setbacks and delays along the way.

One of the lessons to be learned from Joseph’s journey is that circumstances do not define us—our identity in God does. We are who God made us to be regardless of the circumstances. Joseph was destined to lead. And so he did.

Even when his circumstance was “slave,” Joseph was a leader. After his brothers decided to pull him out of the pit they left him in, Joseph was sold to Midianites, who then sold him to Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard. But Genesis 39:4 says, “Potiphar put [Joseph] in charge of his household, and he entrusted to [Joseph’s] care everything he owned.”

Even when his circumstance was “prisoner,” Joseph was a leader. After the false allegation of rape by Potiphar’s wife, Joseph was thrown into prison. But Genesis 39:22 says, “The warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there.”

And even when his circumstance was “hot mess,” Joseph was a leader. Before interpreting Pharaoh’s two dreams, Joseph had to be shaved and given a change of clothing. But Genesis 41 says Joseph not only interpreted the dreams but outlined a plan of action that “seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials” (Genesis 41:37).

And wouldn’t you know it? Pharaoh asked Joseph to put his money where his mouth was, telling Joseph, in effect, “It’s your plan. You lead it.” So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt” (Genesis 41:4).

Joseph never lost sight of who he was in God. He did not let his situation (slave), his position (prisoner) or his condition (disheveled) prevent him from being a leader. 

Greg Wallace is the Chief Operating Officer for HRock Church in Pasadena, Calif. He loves teaching and helping others pursue their life’s passion. He is passionate about developing leaders, building organizations and helping people and groups thrive in the midst of change.