“Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the Israelites solemnly swear to do it, saying, “God will surely hold you accountable, so make sure you bring my bones from here with you.”Exodus 13:19
If you follow us on Instagram or Facebook, you know that my #WomanCrushWednesday for the day was Stephanie Gillard! Today, I’d like to share a story about Stephanie, mentorship, and the story of Exodus.
I was attending a networking happy hour at the Women of Color Corporate Counsel Conference in the fall of 2017 and I ran into Stephanie. She introduced me to some of the other ladies at the conference and explained that I was her mentee and my career background. After her introduction, she went on to say the following:
“This is what mentoring does: Zandra was able to reach these heights in her career in half the time it took me.”
If I can be completely honest, I was initially taken aback by the comment and I was not sure how to place it. A million and one stories went off in my head: Is she saying she regrets it? Is she telling others to do the same? Who am I mentoring? Am I overthinking this all together?
Today, I recognize what Stephanie said is a Joseph Charge. In Genesis, we are introduced to Joseph, one of the most iconic examples of the power of faith and integrity in the marketplace. Not only is Joseph’s career transformed but his entire life: he goes from a prisoner to prime minister of Egypt. Upon first reading of the story of Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors, I was fully persuaded that Joseph’s family (specifically, his siblings) betrayed him.
If I settled with that initial conclusion, however, I would be mistaken. In Joseph’s own words, he forgoes laying blame for his situation; Joseph is instead committed to who he is for his people: “I am Joseph your brother who you sold into Egypt. But don’t feel badly, don’t blame yourselves for selling me. God was behind it. God sent me here ahead of you to save lives.”
Joseph’s family benefited from his labor; what it took Joseph a lifetime to accomplish, his family came into in one single day. Be prepared. The people whom you are imparting to, mentoring, and supporting, will benefit from your experiences, wisdom and hard work. In fact, what took you a lifetime, may take them a tenth of that time. It’s called multiplication; and, God’s math is not our traditional 1+1 = 2. This is illustrated numerous times throughout scripture, one of the most famous being the story of Jesus and the two (2) fish and five (5) loaves of bread that fed the masses.
Essentially Joseph was saying, “I went ahead, paved the way, and everything I went through was worth it because it preserved your destiny.”
Ultimately, Joseph prepares the way for his siblings and family, the Israelites, but he also charges them to pay it forward. He says to them, “God will surely hold you accountable, so make sure you bring my bones from here with you.” I invite you to consider that in saying this, what Joseph was really saying was – everything that I imparted to you…everything that I poured into you…I want you to bring it with you when you leave (Exodus) Egypt.
“God will surely hold you accountable, so make sure you bring my bones from here with you.”
In Jewish tradition, bones represent resurrection and are the last earthly traces of the dead, which seem to last forever. Bones function as the skeleton (the strength) of the human body: protecting organs from impact and damage, supporting the body, allowing our body parts to move, storing and releasing fat, and producing blood cells (life).
The bones of Joseph in a sense represented the last earthly impartation of who he was for the Israelites:
You are where you are today because of those who went before you; and, as such, you are responsible for imparting to others. Joseph’s position afforded his tribe – protection, support, freedom to move across borders, an infinite storehouse to sustain them in the face of a famine, and favor from the King of Egypt to preserve their life.
You-Are-Accountable! Period. And, Joseph, the Dreamer, said so! I could spend all day blogging to unpack a tenth of that transformation; but, for now, we will focus on the command he gave to the Israelites – When you corporately exit Egypt and as you move higher in your career, “make sure you bring my bones from here with you.”
In closing, I’d like to dedicate this blog post to Stephanie Gilliard, who selflessly gives herself away – I am who am I today because of who she is.
Who has poured into you? And, who are you being a Joseph for? Who are you feeding in your Corporate Exodus? Does your workplace represent God’s math? Is your business reproducing?