Joseph was a tattle-tale with insufficient emotional intelligence. That’s my quick and dirty assessment based on Genesis 37. We all know the story of Joseph in a nutshell, yet notice today that it starts with some parenting mistakes and a lack of humility…
1 Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan.
2 This is the account of Jacob’s family line.
Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.
3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”
8 His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.
9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”
10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.
When he is out in the fields with his brothers, Gad, Asher, Dan, and Naphtali, they must have said or done something which Joseph felt needed to be reported. Based on verse 4, which tells us that Jacob loved Joseph more (and showed it), we can assume they were nasty to him.
Notice that these four brothers are also the sons of the servant wives, and Joseph is the son of Rachel (Jacob’s true love). This is a recipe for disaster. The jealousy, rivalry, and conflict which arise from polygamous relationships in these Old Testament stories speak for themselves.
Both Jacob and Joseph err in their behaviour, though, and its their lack of discretion and EQ which precipitate the issues:
Parents, if you connect more with one child than another, which may happen during a season of life, don’t advertise that in a way which pushes the others to the outside. Enjoy it, invest in it, yet do not let closeness with one become a wedge with others. I am very intentional to find connection points with all three of my kids and although we have our seasons, I hope each feels my love and support equally.
Children, the first virtue to learn in family relationships is humility. Humility works. It builds relationship in the home and extends to earn favour in the community. If you are the golden child in your family and you know it, then it is critical to act in a manner which shows humility and deference. You cannot control the actions of parents, yet you can ensure you position yourself on a level playing field with siblings.
This is not easy. Joseph blew it. He probably wore the coat often. He shared his dreams perhaps too freely. And when he was the object of scorn, he ran to Daddy. Even his own father was put off my the dream stories Joseph told.
Read the play, Joseph. The moves you are making are creating a defensive liability. And you are about to get scored on…