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Summary: How do you measure success? This sermon explores the contradiction in between the success God gives him and his position.

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Genesis 39:20-23

Bibliography: (www.sermonillustrator.com: success)

Someone once asked Paul Harvey, the journalist and radio commentator, to reveal the secret of his success. “I get up when I fall down,” said Harvey.

John D. Rockefeller Jr. remarked, “The secret of success is to do the common things uncommonly well.”

Dan Crawford (1870-1926) spent most of his adult life serving as a missionary in Africa. When it was time to return home to Britain, Crawford described to one of the people he had been serving the kind of world he was about to return to. He told him about ships that ran under the water, on the water, and even those that flew above the water. He described English houses with all of their conveniences, such as running water and electric lights. Then Crawford waited for the old African to register his amazement. “Is that all, Mr. Crawford?” the aged man asked. “Yes, I think it is,” Crawford replied. Very slowly and very gravely, he said, “Well, Mr. Crawford, you know, that to be better off is not to be better.”

Mark Hatfield tells of touring Calcutta with Mother Teresa and visiting the so-called “House of Dying,” where sick children are cared for in their last days, and the dispensary, where the poor line up by the hundreds to receive medical attention. Watching Mother Teresa minister to these people, feeding and nursing those left by others to die, Hatfield was overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the suffering she and her co-workers face daily. “How can you bear the load without being crushed by it?” he asked. Mother Teresa replied, “My dear Senator, I am not called to be successful, I am called to be faithful.”

A popular singer who recently went from rags to riches was quoted as saying, “I still don’t understand it. If you don’t have any time for yourself, any time to hunt or fish, that’s success.”

Joseph Stowell once said, ‘What is success? In my book, one ingredient of success is meaningful time with my children. As a friend of mine observed, “I have yet to hear of anyone who, on his deathbed, wished he’d spent more time at the office.”’

General Mark Clark was one of the great heroes of WWII. He led the Salerno invasion that Winston Churchill said was “the most daring amphibious operation we have launched, or which, I think, has ever been launched on a similar scale in war.” At the time Clark was promoted to Lt. General, he was the youngest man of that rank in the U.S. Army. He graduated from West Point in 1917. At the top of his class? Nope. He was 111th from the top in a class of 139! Even if you never earned a college degree, don’t worry, you’re in good company. Irving Berlin, for instance, only had two years of formal schooling. He never learned how to read music. When he composed his songs, he would hum the melody and a musical secretary would write down the notes. He became one of the greatest songwriters the country has ever known.

How do you measure success? When do you know that you’ve made it? By what basis do you determine if you are making progress or losing ground?

Our Bible story tonight tells us that the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did. Yet something within us cries out, “Wait a minute! The man was in prison! His story is not a story of success. Its more like a story of failure.”

Let me tell you about Joseph’s “success” story.”

Joseph was his father’s favorite, and naturally, his brothers - he had 11 older & one younger - his brothers were extremely jealous of him. So much so, that they threw him in a pit while they determined how to end his life. In the end, they sold him into slavery instead, and lied to their father, telling him that Joseph had been eaten by a wild animal.

It wouldn’t be the first reason for disappearance we would assume in this country today, but it was a very common danger back then in that country.

Joseph found himself on the slave market in Egypt. Fortunately, he was purchased by a good man, who was a member of the Pharoh’s personal staff (the Pharoh was the king of Egypt), and who recognized potential in Joseph. Eventually, Joseph became the head of the household, and everything he did prospered. Until the time came that the mistress of the house became interested in Joseph. She sought to sleep with Joseph, but he replied, “My master trusts me. I am in charge of everything in his household. You are his wife. How could I do something so wrong? What you are wanting me to do is a sin. How could I do something so wrong?”

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