A lot has been said and written about wealth and financial resource but I find one story in Genesis chapter 41 quite intriguing. This young guy named Joseph has been through hell on earth and back. He thought he had a glimpse of his bright future but the dreams disappear in thin air when his brothers sell him off into slavery. A glimmer of hope – gaining favor while working for Potiphar for whom he had interpreted a dream – is cut off when Potiphar’s wife accuses him of attempted rape.
To cut the long story short, Joseph winds up before Pharoah from yet another prison; again to interprete a dream. God honors him with an opportunity to speak incredible wisdom to Pharoah, the kind which eventually saved the nation. By what I believe was God’s ordaining, Pharoah appoints Joseph second in command to himself ensuring that he in charge of implementing this directive.
What follows is nothing short amazing!
47 Now in the seven plentiful years the ground brought forth abundantly. 48 So he gathered up all the food of the seven years which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities; he laid up in every city the food of the fields which surrounded them. 49 Joseph gathered very much grain, as the sand of the sea, until he stopped counting, for it was immeasurable.
Genesis 41:47-49 (NKJV)
Can you imagine that scenario?
The one common thread in all financial literacy programs is the need to set aside a portion of one’s income for investment. This recommended percentage usually varies on average between 10-20% which allows one to have room for meeting daily needs. Three things stand out for me in Joseph’s story;
- Joseph recommended a 20% saving and a specific period in which Pharoah was to follow this saving plan.
34 Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, to collect one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven plentiful years.
- Joseph had a specific system in place for the saving plan.
35 And let them gather all the food of those good years that are coming, and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities.
- Joseph had a specific reason for the saving;
36 Then that food shall be as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which shall be in the land of Egypt, that the land may not perish during the famine.”
I do believe with all my heart that there is a place of such abundance that it is no longer necessary to count. However, we need to recognize that there are years of counting behind the scenes. Years of faithfulness with the resources God gives us, whether a little or much. It is true that there are fundamental disciplines we need to observe in order to reap the best, disciplines like tithe, first fruits and giving. That said, there is a place of faithfulness, consistency, and sheer discipline with our finances. Many of us will listen to teachings on finances and get quite excited. We will go for that seminar, read the book, listen to the preacher, play like cash flow with friends, etc. We leave determined to put into practice whatever it is that we learnt from the experience. Then after a few days, weeks and months, we lose the gusto for different reasons.
Here are a few questions to ponder on from Joseph’s story;
# Do I have a specific percentage you are setting aside for saving?
#Do I have a specific period during which I am going to be saving?
# Are my reasons for saving very clear?
# Do I have systems (however basic in place which I am following? Who am I accountable to? Who is overseeing this project (accountability), where does the money go (bank account?) and how often?
22 Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain,
Yet his foolishness will not depart from him.
23 Be diligent to know the state of your flocks,
And attend to your herds;
24 For riches are not forever,
Nor does a crown endure to all generations.
25 When the hay is removed, and the tender grass shows itself,
And the herbs of the mountains are gathered in,
26 The lambs will provide your clothing,
And the goats the price of a field;
27 You shall have enough goats’ milk for your food,
For the food of your household,
And the nourishment of your maidservants.