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Living with Joseph

The two Josephs of LAP Family

“Never meet with your idols” as a wise saying goes, because they often fail to fulfill one's expectations, resulting in disappointment.

My wife, Eunice, used to love the Taiwanese F4 group of the Meteor Garden drama fame. However, after she met them at a meet and greet session in Singapore, she was left disappointed and stopped liking them because of their limp handshakes and uninterested demeanor.

I believe that many of us have experienced such emotions when we meet with our idols in real life, which often results in disappointment and sadness, when we realize that our larger-than-life idols often do not meet with our idealized depictions of them.

In fact, even those “idols” who have already passed away many years ago can also be subjected to criticism and rejection. For example, my childhood heroes: Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl and even Walt Disney, are now, due to past actions, viewed as elitist, sexist, racist and xenophobic.

When my wife was pregnant with Joseph, we were discussing what names we wanted for our then-unborn child. We decided on a Bible name because we felt that a strong Bible character would provide a moral map to guide our unborn child, and hopefully later in life, with a strong Christian foundation, he would be able to associate his name with the Bible character and make godly decisions in life.

Apart from Jesus, the characters recorded in the Bible were all fallible mortal men, like you and I. As the Bible is written factually, and without whitewashing the lives of these men, their strengths and weaknesses are laid bare for us all to learn from.

Choosing the topic for this article was timely, as this has set me the task to crystallize my thoughts on the characteristics that I hope my son Joseph can emulate from his Bible namesake. What lessons can Joseph, son of Kelvin, learn from Joseph, son of Jacob?

There are many characteristics we can learn from Joseph in the Bible, but I have summarized them into these 3 below:

1. Emotional Intelligence

Genesis 37:8: And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.

We all know that Joseph was Jacob’s favorite child. Be it in the form of words (praises) or actions (gifting Joseph his multi-coloured cloak), Jacob made it clear to Joseph’s 10 other brothers (minus Benjamin, because he was still very young) that he treasured Joseph above all of them.

Whether it was ignorance or willfulness, when Joseph told his brothers about his dreams (Genesis 37:7), he was to an extent, humble bragging. From the accounts in the Bible, he was 17 years old, on the cusp of adulthood, and he should have known better.

Although this kickstarted the whole journey into slavery, and his journey to become the great man he was, he could have made life easier for himself by having the EQ to judge the situation and maybe to keep his dreams to himself.

Of course, Joseph being a slave was most likely God’s will to mould him to be the man as described in the Bible, but I would think that Joseph himself would have preferred not to be a slave if he had the choice.

2. Be Steadfast

Genesis 39: 9 There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?

We all know that Potiphar’s wife desired Joseph, and that Joseph repeatedly refused to have sexual intimacy with her, to the extent that he was falsely accused and thrown in prison.

Joseph could have chosen the easy way out, succumbed to temptation, and have an easy life, but Joseph knew that such a sinful liaison would ultimately lead to a bad outcome. Joseph chose to be steadfast in the faith and paid a painful price for it in the short term; however, he gained favor in the eyes of God and was ultimately rewarded.

3. Forgive and Forget

Genesis 50: 21 Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.

Close to the end of Joseph’s account, we know that he met his brothers and Jacob before his father died.

The amazing thing was that Joseph forgave his brothers for selling him into slavery. Imagine being away from your family for 22 years, 13 years as a slave, all because of jealousy, compounded by the betrayal of his own family members.

My human nature will not find it wrong to punish these bad persons, but Joseph is a better man than me to be so forgiving despite the ordeal he had to go through.

As Alexander Bell, the inventor of the modern telephone once said:

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

Joseph recognized that his journey into slavery was tough, but it ultimately changed him and brought him closer to God, and gave him the opportunity to be in a position to help his family during the famine.

As our Joseph grows into an adult, Eunice and I will look to the Bible to guide his moral compass, starting with Joseph’s life in Genesis as the foundation.

Most importantly, we ourselves must practice God’s teaching in the household to be a good example to our children.

I know a good place to start!

If I want to buy a multi-colored cloak, I better buy it for all my children.


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