How Is God Training You Right Now to Be a Future Leader?
Notice the woes of Joseph, one of the twelve sons of Jacob, in the book of Genesis: First, he was hated by his own—and then sold into permanent exile and slavery. Things began to be looking up for Joseph in Potiphar’s house, but a false accusation landed him in the dungeon. Yet, the Bible tells us that “the Lord was with Joseph” (Gen. 39:21).
It wasn’t the case that the Lord was with Joseph despite the fact that he was in the dungeon; Joseph was in the dungeon because the Lord was with him. The dungeon was a deliberate part of God’s perfect plan for Joseph—and for Joseph’s family. Everything he was experiencing was perfectly preparing Joseph to be the governor of Egypt, and to be the savior of “all the earth” (Gen 41:57).
Training Camp God's Way
God often prepares his leaders in these kinds of ways. Abraham had to wait twenty-five years for the fulfillment of God’s promise. God prepared Moses for eighty years—forty in Pharaoh’s palace, and forty in the blazing armpit of the Sinai Peninsula. God prepared the apostle Paul with decades of Pharisaic training before his conversion, and a further 15 years after his conversion!
God prepared his Son, in his incarnation, with 30 years of obscurity, and then forty days and nights of hunger, thirst, and severe temptation.
God Is Preparing You in Life's Difficult Circumstances
After the Communists came to power in China in 1949, thousands of foreign missionaries were expelled, and hundreds of Chinese pastors were imprisoned. Many were not released until 20-30 years later, in the 70s and 80s. These pastors had been praying, thinking, studying—and suffering. The leaders who were released were far, far stronger than the leaders who were imprisoned. This harsh and prolonged training contributed enormously to the astonishing growth of the Chinese church.
And God is training you. Grasp this profound truth: Everything that has happened in your life so far has prepared you for what you are about to face. Everything that you are living and suffering now is preparing you for his future work.
Campbell Markham is a Presbyterian pastor in Hobart, Tasmania. He blogs at Campbell Markham: Thoughts and Letters.