Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 40:1-4

1 And it came to pass after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt. 

2 And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers.

3 And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound.

4 And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them: and they continued a season in ward.

I never noticed before that the two men Pharaoh consigned to prison were not just “a butler” or “a baker,” they were “the chief of the butlers” and “the chief of the bakers.” These men were not mere servants, they were officers, overseers of a band of workers, responsible for entire sectors of the royal household. It might even be that it was not these two men who offended the Pharaoh, but some of their subordinates, and they were being held responsible for not managing them better.

These men’s higher station might also explain why in verse four it says Joseph “served them.” It would seem that even in prison they retained a more exalted state than the rest of the prisoners. In the last chapter it sounded as though Joseph was an overseer of the other prisoners, but when the captain of the guard needed someone trustworthy to be a servant, Joseph was the one to fill that role as well.

This, of course, reminds me of the example of the Savior, who taught his disciples the idea of a servant-leader. Though he was the undisputed head of his followers, Jesus also washed their feet. This combination of roles requires one to have great capability and power, but also great humility and care. As we will see in the following verses, Joseph did indeed show great care to these men, concerning himself with their trouble and helping them with it as best he could.

The fact that Joseph was in a position of service to these men might also explain why the butler failed to remember him after he was restored to Pharaoh’s house. Perhaps in the pride of his lofty station he failed to give the proper space in his mind for the plea of his lowly servant Joseph.

Influence and Persuasion- Personal Example #2

I mentioned in a previous post how as a child I wanted my younger siblings to follow my lead. I wanted them to take my instructions as law, but they didn’t respect me, because I had not put in the time to earn that respect. And if that meant they didn’t want to play what I wanted that was one thing, but they would even stage mini-rebellions when I was just being the messenger for Dad and Mom.

“No!” I would say. “You have to listen to me. Dad and Mom said we have to clean this up, so you have to help me do it.”

I felt that my authority was absolute in this case, but they would ignore me all the same. Not because they didn’t respect Dad and Mom, but because they didn’t respect me as their emissary. And no matter of invoked authority was going to make them view me in the same light as the parents.

In those moments I felt an intense aggravation. They needed to do what I was saying, and I had to find a way to make them do it. And that resulted in all manner of shouting and threatening and shaking by the shoulders.

Then one day I realized something. If you need to make someone do something in that very moment…then you’ve already lost. I realized that the campaign for someone’s loyalty is won out long before the moment of need. It has to be sown long in advance.

So if you haven’t already put in that time beforehand, you don’t stand a chance. Then you will be tempted to force them to comply through fear and anger, which might get you what you want in the moment, but will make them resent you even more, and they will be all the less willing to comply next time.

I’m glad to say that after realizing this I started to treat my siblings differently. I stopped trying to make them respect me, and instead got them to know that I liked them. I played with them, I made things for them, I taught them how to ride the bike. I learned how to be nice with no strings attached. I won their hearts at quiet times when I didn’t need a single thing from them.

And then, when I was the emissary for Mom and Dad, and I told them we had been commissioned to do some chore and needed to work together, they happily agreed.

Influence and Persuasion- Matthew 20:26-27, Doctrine and Covenants: 121:46

But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:

The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.

COMMENTARY

Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant
Yesterday I examined some verses that spelled out the divinely approved method for obtaining influence over others. And they were full of words like persuasion, gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned, and kindness. Which honestly sounds like a great deal of work! In fact it doesn’t sound like the work of a leader at all, but that of a servant.
And as it turns out, this is exactly the same methodology that Jesus taught to his disciples. It seems a paradox, but his process for gaining power over others was to just serve them. He assaults us with love until at last he wins our hearts.

Thy dominion shall be everlasting, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee
And going back to those verses from yesterday, after they conclude detailing the service we ought to employ as our means of influence, they then provide a promise. We are told that our dominion will just flow unto us. After we have sown love, loyalty will flow back to us of its own accord. It will come without “compulsory” means.
Maintaining power is the exact opposite for tyrants that rule by intimidation and force. Nothing flows to such leaders, they must go out and hunt for every ounce of control they have. They must domineer every servant at all times, and if ever they slack off then their power is gone.
Virtuous leaders invest themselves in their people. They plant their own goodwill, and reap the loyalty that naturally grows from that seed. There is no domineering and no forcing, just service flowing out and then flowing back in, pulsating, like the rhythms of a heart.