TODAY’S READING: Genesis 39–41
Zaphnath-Paaneah was a pretty good businessman, perhaps the first one to use his business sense for the cause of God’s global glory. He knew how to ride bull and bear markets. He invested shrewdly and leveraged his wealth for even greater wealth and wider global impact. We know him, of course, by his birth name: Joseph. Joseph finds himself in Egypt at a time the Hyksos likely ruled. The Hyksos were a blend of Semitic Asians who took advantage of a fragmented Egypt around 1800 B.C. to invade and rule for 100 years. Having a Semitic Pharaoh probably helped a Semitic problem solver get the second-in-command gig. What was more helpful to Joseph’s business rise was the clear, observable reality that God was with him. Both Potiphar and prison keeper noticed God was with Joseph and so gave him responsibility (Gen. 39:3, 21). Whatever blessing God gives us in business, management, leadership, or wealth management is given so the nations of the world see it and recognize the hand of God. To abuse the favor of God (and the trust of the nations) by plundering the assets we were invited to steward (i.e. Potiphar’s wife), God counts as wickedness (v. 9). We are careful stewards, not rapacious pirates.
The people of God should be the best businesspeople on the planet—not because God endorses our laziness, ignorance, or nepotism, but because we work hard, are informed, advance through merit, and have the Spirit of God empowering us. If all have the same education and the same opportunities, if all work hard, if all work with integrity and collaboration, but some have the Spirit of God in them (41:38), it is evident who will rise to prominence before the power brokers of earth. God intends for His businesspeople to create and grow wealth for one singular purpose: His glory among all nations, the preservation of life, and the advance of the gospel to every tribe, tongue, people, and nation.
God is yet looking for Josephs—men and women He can trust with wealth and influence because He knows they will use that trust to extend His glory to all peoples. If you have been gifted in business, if the Spirit of God in you has given you an “unfair” advantage in the marketplace, it is because He wants to use your gifts globally. God’s Spirit in God’s people in business is for one of these reasons:
- That you use your skills to support yourself as a missionary among an unreached people. Your business will grant you access to places and peoples others cannot engage, and that access is so you can testify to the God of glory, His eternal wealth, and His saving power among the powerful and powerless.
- That you use your skills to make a way for others as representatives and employees of your company to enter countries and contexts where they have not been able to get visas, that they may stand before the peoples of that nation on credible footing to proclaim the gospel. You may also capitalize new small businesses to the same effect. You can serve as a business coach.
- That you give extravagantly, ridiculously, and generously to sustain boots on the ground missionaries who need your monthly support. They may not need your particular business covering, but monthly they need the wealth with which God has favored you that they may extend God’s favor to all peoples.
In essence, Joseph was God’s first “business as missionary.” May there be many more to follow.