It has been a tough summer in many parts of the Midwest as crops have suffered due to the lack of rain. Drought conditions reduce crop yields, lessen the food supply and can put a farmers entire livelihood in jeopardy. In some countries, a severe drought can lead to famine as crops completely disappear over an extended period of years.
These type of conditions are very difficult for a farmer to plan for because they never know when one might occur. One person from history, however, did get a heads-up about a drought/famine and, because of his foreknowledge of the event, he quite possibly enacted the greatest crisis management plan the world has ever known.
The Bible describes in Genesis 41 how the Pharaoh of Egypt has a series of dreams one night as he sleeps. He knows they hold significance but neither he, nor his magicians, can offer any suitable interpretation of them. (To read the entire story, click here.)
However, through a series of events (Genesis 37, 39) a young Hebrew, Joseph, has come to Egypt and God has been greatly working in his life. God has used him once before to interpret the meaning of dreams (Genesis 40), and it is Joseph who God brings before the deeply disturbed Pharaoh. Joseph listens as Pharaoh explains the images he has seen in his dream and then, through God’s power, provides the interpretation to Pharaoh. And it went something like this…
Joseph: “Pharaoh, you’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that there is going to be seven years of great plenty. The bad news is those abundant years will be followed by seven years of famine. This famine is going to be so bad, it will devastate not only Egypt but the entire region. It will be so severe that no one will even remember the seven years of plenty.”
Pharaoh: “OK, Joseph, what do we do about it? How do we plan for an entire nation’s food bill for seven years?”
Joseph’s Strategic Plan
And here was Joseph’s suggestion found in Genesis 41:33-36:
“Now therefore, let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, to collect one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven plentiful years. And let them gather all the food of those good years that are coming, and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. Then that food shall be as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which shall be in the land of Egypt, that the land may not perish during the famine.”
We know at some point in our lives we will face a financial challenge or crisis. We don’t know where it will come from, how big it will be or how long it will last. But the fact that we know they are coming should give us incredible incentive to plan for them.
Joseph was blessed with great wisdom and he gives us a great example of how to plan for a crisis. Consider:
1. He planned before the crisis began.
2. He was honest and upfront with Pharaoh about the depth of the coming crisis. The people would literally be struggling to survive.
3. He had the people sacrifice while times were good. This is so against human nature because we want to “live it up” while times are good.
4. He had the people set aside 20% of the produce of the land each year that would serve as a reserve for the seven years of famine. 20%! (Imagine how saving that much would change your financial picture.)
5. He stored the food in the cities where it was easily accessible. He didn’t ship it off to some remote location where he couldn’t get to it. He didn’t convert the grain into a non-liquid asset like land or precious metals. (which would have been useless during a famine). He knew he would need this resource in a relatively short timeframe so he kept it as accessible as possible.
6. He never stopped accumulating even when he couldn’t count the quantity of grain anymore. (Genesis 41:49)
7. His intense focus and dedication to seeing Egypt through the crisis lasted for a total of 14 years. That’s some long-term commitment.
Unexpected life events that affect our finances are going to happen in the future. This is the reason to develop a strategic plan now.
How do you prepare for a potential crisis?
Next Post: Giving to the Needy