Step up to leadership (DW#400)
May 25, 2018
Here is today's edition of wisdom from the Quran:
He said, ‘Put me in charge of the store houses of the land, I am indeed reliable, well-informed.’ (Sūrat Yūsuf 12:55, Holy Quran)
This verse from Sura Yusuf is Prophet Yusuf (as)’s reply to the Egyptian king when he appoints him to work for the government.
Prophet Yusuf (as) immediately suggests a specific position for himself and relates the qualities which make him ideal for this position.
We are sometimes confused about what it means to be humble – this verse shows us that humility is not at odds with putting yourself forward for a good cause when you have the qualifications and the capability of doing it well and when it is for a good cause.
In the days of self promotion and social media, this verse gives us solid advice on how and when to promote oneself:
Knowledge: he is well-informed. He has done his homework about the situation. It is not a case of feeling entitled to a position.
Sincerity of purpose: He was acutely aware of the economic factors that led to oppression of the people. The society needed financial cleansing and when the opportunity arose to do something, he was quick to ask to be put in charge of it. He would work at eliminating discrimination that was present in the society and give back the rights to the oppressed. It was the desire to work to change society for the better that led to him putting himself forward.
Recognizing one’s own strengths: We have all been given gifts and strengths that can be used as a force for good. The first step is to recognize one’s own strengths and use those. Prophet Yusuf (as) knows that he is well-informed and has what it takes to do a good job. Once again, this comes from a strength of character rather than a feeling of entitlement.
Working for the higher good: Yusuf (as) puts himself forward not for the position itself but for the higher good, a purpose larger than himself. It is not the position but the vision and the goal that inspires him.
Imam al-Sādiq (as) commented on this verse when he was asked if we are allowed to praise ourselves or announce our own strengths. He replied: Yes, if he has to. Have you not heard the words of Yūsuf ‘Put me in charge of the store houses of the land, I am indeed reliable, well-informed (Quran 12:55)’ and the words of ‘Abdus Sālīh [Nabī Hūd] ‘I am a sincere and trustworthy advisor to you (Quran 7:68)’
Are we hiding some of our own strengths and gifts for fear that we will appear proud? Let us remember that the strengths of personal character that we have been granted are a trust from Him and come with the responsibility to use them well and for a higher purpose.
The world needs us to do what we can with what we have been granted.
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