Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he refused … And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.
- Genesis 39:6b-8a, 10
With success comes challenge.
Joseph experience significant, life-changing success in his work. The Lord blessed him and he thrived. More and more responsibility landed on his plate. And he ate it all up with great joy.
Just as Joseph found his stride, he hit a challenge. The challenge didn’t come to his productivity or his efficiency at work. Instead, it showed up as a challenge to his integrity: taking from his master the one thing his master had withheld from him (see Genesis 3). And this wasn’t a one-off event. He was harassed day after day. He started avoiding his master’s wife and maintained his integrity despite the repeated temptation.
There’s something beautiful about a display of integrity. Whether we have it or not, we want the people who work for us to have it; we want the folks who date our kids to have it; we expect great leaders to have it. And Joseph had it.
As we think through how to connect this passage to our daily lives, we’re reminded of a finding from Dr. Carol Dweck, who saw that students who viewed themselves as smart and successful at school were the ones who were most likely to cheat on a hard test. Don’t be surprised when challenges to your integrity appear on the heels of your seasons of success.
Winning becomes addictive and worms its way into our identities. The desire to protect your successful self-image can cloud even the most mature minds. Joseph’s ability to maintain his integrity stemmed from his deep and abiding sense that the Lord’s presence was the source of his success. Because he refused to take full credit for his own success, he received an immunity to the identity-protective temptations.
What temptations have you experienced on the heels of your successes in life? How have you fended those temptations off? Where have you been overrun? How have these experiences impacted your relationship with God?