Genesis 37: 6-11
Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, ‘Listen to this dream I had: we were binding sheaves of corn out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered round mine and bowed down to it.’
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.
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.’
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?’ His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.
Joseph had two prophetic dreams in which God showed him a glimpse of his future. He was destined for promotion, position and prominence. While he certainly seemed to lack humility and wisdom in how he communicated the dreams to his brothers, their response reveals a very common reaction towards those who seek to live God’s dreams for their lives. Look at what it says:
“….they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.” (v. 8)
“His brothers were jealous of him…” (v. 11)
They collectively felt deep disdain and intense irritation towards him. The special coat from their dad was bad enough. These prideful pronouncements pushed them over the edge in their determination to bring their little brother down to size.
As Alan said this past Sunday: “The fastest way to find your critics is to announce your dreams.”
How true. We see the exact same thing in the life of young David when he determines to fight Goliath:
“When Eliab, David’s eldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, ‘Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.” (1 Sam 17: 28)
No one likes criticism or verbal attack from others. When a complete stranger criticises us it can be difficult to take. However, as we see with both Joseph and David, often the harshest criticism comes from those closest to us. It’s from those within our own families, those who we have trusted, who we’ve opened our hearts to, who we have let into our world, invested ourselves in, who we thought would always be on our side, we assumed we’d grow old with them. Criticism like this can bring all our insecurities to the surface. It hurts us deeply and can easily take us off course from pursuing our dream.
However the simple reality of life is this: If you are going to do anything remotely significant, important or different with your life – you will be criticised. There is no way around it.
As Aristotle said: “Criticism is something you can avoid easily – by saying nothing, doing nothing and being nothing.”
If you are going to do anything to make a difference in this world, then at some point you will make decisions that will upset some people. Take comfort, even Jesus, the sinless son of God, faced constant criticism and intense opposition the whole way throughout His ministry. When you are feeling discouraged and deflated by the response of others towards your dream, take to heart the wisdom from the writer to the Hebrews:
“Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Heb 12: 3)
This Sunday morning at 9.30 and 11.30 we will be thinking through how we can be part of contributing to our collective dream of ‘Compassion at the Centre.' At 7.00 pm we will continue our new series: ‘Here Comes That Dreamer’, looking at the life of Joseph. We’d love to see you there.