Is there another passage in scripture that so blatantly screams that we ought to work hard at what we do no matter what our circumstances are? I know, I know…it doesn’t seem to work out for Joseph, at least in the short term. After all, Joseph worked in his new master’s house as hard as he could and in the end was framed for something he didn’t do and thrown in prison.
Whenever something doesn’t work out, we tend to link the effort with the result. Our response is “what a waste” or “if I had known how that would have played out, I wouldn’t have wasted so much time”. However, most of time I have found that nothing could be further from the truth. For example, a couple of times I’ve had an idea for a business. I decided to give it a try and it didn’t work out. I worked incredibly hard at it and during that time I lost my focus on so many things that I cared about. You would think that I would be tempted to call that time a waste, but I know better. If I had not tried it at all, I would have always wondered and this might have kept me to fully selling out to what I’m doing now. If I had tried but not worked so hard, the result would have been the same. I would have always wondered what would have happened had I applied myself. I would have truly felt like a failure. In fact, I would have regretted it.
I was told once that regret should be reserved for things we haven’t tried, not things we’ve done wrong. I would imagine if you could visit Joseph in his prison cell, he’d tell you that he didn’t regret a single moment of servitude to Potiphar nor the effort he showed while doing it. If you could allow me to speculate a bit, Joseph’s experience in Potiphar’s house gave him the education he needed for his next career move, which would be even greater. In Potiphar’s house, he had to learn management. He was put in charge of the entire estate. He had to learn all about the different activities that went on, about wages and currency and about communication and leadership. He would not have learned these things had he not applied himself.
No doubt these skills were on display when the prison guard took notice of Joseph. They were the reason he was put in the position that he was in the jail. A small compensation, I’m sure you’ll say, but again, it was a stepping stone to what God had for him next. Would Joseph have ended up in Pharaoh’s palace if not for the prison guards taking notice of him? In that moment, do you think Joseph regretted the “wasted time” he spent serving in Potiphar’s house?
I don’t regret failing at things. I regret the times I didn’t apply myself. I have come to realize this, the effort is ours and the results are God’s. We don’t question God’s results, but we certainly shouldn’t feel the right to either if we don’t work hard wherever we are. I am reminded of Paul’s words to the Colossians…
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:17
Today, honor your King by working hard for your boss, in the home, running your business, doing your school work – whatever you do, do it as if for Him, and trust the he has a plan for you.