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6 Traits to Stand Out at Work from the Life of Joseph

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In the Bible, Joseph can teach us a lot about work ethic and standing out at work. He goes from slave to the second most powerful man on planet earth, directly under Pharaoh. He goes from prisoner to president. That’s quite a promotion. How did he manage to do that?

We can learn six traits that get you promoted from the life of Joseph.

These still work today: the six most “in demand” traits that employers look for when they’re looking for somebody to hire. These traits are not in order of importance. They are in order of the story. They’re all important.

The first trait that Joseph shows is Audacity.

If you want to make it in a career, you have to show the audacity that Joseph develops and shows in his life.  He has a big dream. What is audacity?

Audacity is the courage to think big, to show initiative, and to take risks for a dream while facing the possibility of failure.  

Genesis 37:5 “One night Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him more than ever.  

He says, “I have this dream that one day I’m going to be the most powerful leader in the world. And not only the most powerful leader in the world, but all my brothers are going to bow down to me.”

Was it the truth? Yes. Was the dream from God? Yes. Did it happen? Yes. Was Joseph stupid in telling his brothers? Yes. Not every dream should be shared with everybody. When God gives you a dream, you only share it with people who can help you get there. People will say, “Who do you think you are?” The question is not who do you think you are, it’s “who do you think God is?”  

Where do you need to believe God? Where do you need to trust God? Where do you need to step out in faith? Where do you need to think big? Where do you need to take initiative? Where do you need to take risks? This is the first characteristic of Joseph. You see it through his entire lifetime, where he makes one audacious decision after another in faith. As a result he got the promotion of a lifetime.

The second key to getting promoted is not audacity, it’s Likeability.  

People have to like you if you are going to get promoted. People trust you if they like you. If you want people to listen to you, first they’ve got to like you. Likeability is not personality; it’s character. It’s choice. It’s behavior. It’s how you choose to relate to other people.

Likability - Possessing the attractive attitudes and the relational skills that cause others to want to work with me.  

That’s likeability. You have the certain attitudes and you have the certain skills that cause people to think, “I want to work with that woman; I want to work with that guy. They’re fun to work with. I enjoy being around them. They’re likable.”

Genesis 39:2-4 “The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. 3Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did. 4This pleased Potiphar, so he soon made Joseph his personal attendant. He put him in charge of his entire household and everything he owned.

He takes a guy who starts off as a slave. He’s probably cleaning toilets and taking out garbage and stuff like that. Potiphar notices, this guy’s good. He takes a liking to him. So what’s he do? He gets promoted.  What’s he get promoted to? His personal assistant. He’s the guy in charge of everything.

When we talk about likability, it means you’ve got to have attractive attitudes. What are attractive attitudes, the attitudes that attract people to you?  How about this one… is humility attractive? How about cheerfulness? We want to be around helpful people. We want to be around empathetic people.

The third key to getting promoted is Capacity.  

Capacity is the amount of abilities you’ve got. If you’re already using all of your abilities, you’re not going to get promoted. You’ve got to show that you’ve got capacity to do more.  

Capacity is my potential for growth.

What is your potential for growth? Or are you just going to be the same ten years from today as you are right now? Are you going to read any books between now and the next ten years? Are you going to take any seminars? Are you going to grow? Are you going to develop any skills?

It is the potential for growth. It is the desire to keep learning. That’s what capacity is. Why? So I can increase in competence. So I can handle greater responsibility. All leaders are learners. The moment you stop learning you stop leading.

Genesis 39:4-5 “This pleased Potiphar, so he soon made Joseph his personal attendant. He put him in charge of his entire household and everything he owned. 5 From the day Joseph was put in charge of his master’s household and property, the Lord began to bless Potiphar’s household for Joseph’s sake. All his household affairs ran smoothly, and his crops and livestock flourished.”

Why? Because Joseph had capacity. When Joseph was a slave and taken to Egypt, he wasn’t able to handle all that stuff. He had to grow in that. He had to learn how to manage livestock. He had to learn how to manage a household. If you keep learning you’ll keep growing and God will keep blessing.

The fourth key to getting promoted we find in the next few verses of Joseph’s life:

It is Reliability.

Of all people, Christians should be the most reliable people in the workplace. We ought to be the most dependable. We ought to be the most trustworthy.

Reliability - Earning the trust of others by always keeping my promises and fulfilling my responsibilities, even if it requires sacrifice.  

That’s reliability. Keeping my promises, fulfilling my responsibilities, even if it requires sacrifice.

Genesis 39:6 “So Potiphar gave Joseph complete administrative responsibility over everything he owned. With Joseph there, he didn’t worry about a thing – except what kind of food to eat!”  

That’s why Joseph kept getting promoted, because his bosses could say, “I trust this guy with my life.”  When he was working for the warden in the prison, it says Joseph had favor with the prison warden and the warden put the entire prison under Joseph’s care. You have a prisoner running the prison? Yeah. This man knew how to be reliable. That is what gets promoted.  

The fifth character quality we see in Joseph’s life and the fifth key to getting promoted is Loyalty.

Joseph demonstrates this in black and white starkness when the chips are down. Loyalty is a quality that is in short supply in our society today. It’s an old fashioned quality, but it’s a quality that is so rare that when you find it in somebody, that person gets promoted.

Loyalty is being faithful to my boss and to God when difficulty tests my commitment.  

Genesis 39:6 and 8-9 “Now Joseph was a very handsome and well-built young man.  So Potiphar’s wife began to desire him and invited him to sleep with her. Joseph refused. ‘Look,’ he told her.  ‘My master trusts me. My master trusts me with everything in his entire household.  No one here has more authority than I do! He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife.  How could I ever do such a wicked thing to him?  And it would be a great sin against God.’”

That’s loyalty. He’s got a beautiful woman throwing herself at him and nobody’s going to know. He turns her down because of loyalty to his boss. “My master trusts me.”

The sixth key to getting promoted is Integrity.

Integrity is far more than simply honesty. Integrity means that you are whole. What you see is what you get.  You’re not a phony, you’re not a fake. You act the way with me the same way you act at home with your husband or your wife or your kids, the way you act on the golf course, the way you act at the bridge party, the way you act at a club, the way you act at a dinner, the way you are with your friends. You don’t wear a mask here and a mask here and a mask here.  

Integrity – Practicing in secret the values and beliefs that I claim to hold in public.

It means I don’t compartmentalize my life. It’s when you are exactly who you claim to be. As a result of that you don’t act one way in secret and another way over here. You have the same values that you promote in public, you hold to in private.

Here’s the point: God wants you to do good and he wants you to let others know that you’re doing it.

If you develop these six traits you will get noticed, because it will be unusual. That’s not the way most people live.  


Philippians 2:15, “You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people.  Let your lives shine brightly before them.”

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