Leaders are lonely and other Egyptian experiences

In a discussion this week about feeling on the fringes everywhere and at the centre nowhere, my sister said to me, ‘God has placed you.’

Ah. Relief. Perspective. Like tea at sunset. Which was in fact what we were drinking, and when.

Her reminder of God’s sovereignty over secularism – his ability to put us where he wants us, regardless of whether or not it makes sense to us or others – got me thinking about Joseph’s life as it unfolded after his technicolour dreamcoat got him in trouble with his brothers.

Joseph was lonely. In the top strata of Egyptian aristocracy and in prison. He didn’t fit in. His intentions were misunderstood. Whether you’re a huge-important leader or a tiny-hardly-noticed leader, it’s lonely – in any organisation or community. You’re out front – on the edge – plotting a course – launching – deciding – sticking with it. And people are quick to hang back and leave you exposed. (Haven’t we all done that to people we said we’d follow?) Other times, leaders do enjoy a following – but no fellowship.

And yet,

Joseph was promoted. God chose Joseph’s place. He didn’t have the right qualifications by any stretch of the CV. But like Jesus, he ‘left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly’ (1 Peter 2:23).  God is your promoter. In career and community, friendships and family. You needn’t shoulder-rub or name-drop or trumpet-blow to find out or fit in. Just be faithful. Even when affirmation dries up and doubt starts nibbling. Don’t get tired of doing good. The harvest is quietly ripening. In due course you’ll reap (Galatians 6:9). Keep on doing the next right thing, in love and humility (Micah 6:8). God will plot your course. Corporate steps and closed circles are nothing to him. He will put you where he wants you. For your good and his glory.

And so,

Joseph was used. Mightily. Reverberations resounding in eternity.

God – perfect in love, power and wisdom – meet us in our loneliness. Help us to rest in your knowledge of what is best, and your power to promote. Hold us to faithfulness. Use us to light up the darkness.


  1. Wow Dalene! A word. A message. Given at just the right moment.
    At our church in the mornings, the Pastors have just recently started a series in the life of Joseph, which I am learning hugely from.
    What makes your blog so special, is sitting by the bedside of Emma who has been in hospital for 5 days (that’s another long story), I as Emma’s father and husband to Geraldine, feel so inadequate as a leader to my family. Oh that I could do so much more to be more considerate, more loving, more useful to both my wife and daughter, as they are hospital bound. What leaps out to me from your words, was “God has placed you”. How powerful that is and also humbling. How I need to learn hugely from this and the life of Joseph and so many other leaders in scripture.
    Thanks for your timely wisdom, which along with all your other writing is just superb.


    • Thanks so much, Alex, for your encouragement and honesty. I am praying for you guys there on the other side of the equator. God be near you in tangible ways. Much love


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