Hope for your financial life and beyond

6 Awesome Lessons for Managing Through a Financial Crisis

Hidden Nuggets #32 – “Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you.” – Genesis 41:39

financial crisis

Will you be prepared for the next crisis?

At some point in our lives we will face a financial challenge. Perhaps it will reach the level of severity that we would deem it a crisis. Where the financial crisis will come from or how long it will last, we will never know. However, this is for certain – one will be coming and we will have to deal with it.

That fact alone should give us an incredible incentive to plan.

The life story of the Biblical character Joseph would make Hollywood giddy with the prospects of a full-length motion picture. The plot has everything you’d want: from family conflict and deception to seduction, slavery and redemption. Joseph faced it all. And it’s in his redemption phase where we learn a great deal of what it’s like to plan for and through a financial crisis.

The Bible describes a time where the Pharaoh of Egypt had a series of dreams as he slept one night. Pharaoh knows the dreams hold significant importance but he, nor his magicians can interpret the imagery. Enter Joseph, a man whom God had already blessed with the ability to decipher a dream’s meaning.

Joseph listens as Pharaoh shares the dream sequence. Then, with Godly assistance, Joseph explains to Pharaoh the good news and bad news:

The good news: There is going to be seven years of great plenty.

The bad news: Those seven prosperous years will be followed by seven years of famine. The famine will be so severe no one will remember the years of great plenty. Egypt and the entire region will be devastated.

Dealing With a Financial Crisis

Pharaoh’s heart sinks as he hears the news and he pleads with Joseph for advice. Never short on opinion, Joseph shares these thoughts with Pharaoh:

“Now therefore, let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt…let him appoint officers to collect one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven plentiful years…let them gather all the food of those good years that are coming…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.” (Genesis 41:33-36)

Pharaoh loved this advice. So he set Joseph over all the land of Egypt to carry out this plan.

Joseph didn’t disappoint and the lessons from his management skills are an example for us today on how to manage through a financial crisis.


True Joseph received some special wisdom from God about the coming crisis. But don’t we know through personal experience and from the observation of other people’s lives that a financial crisis could be just around the corner. We don’t need a midnight dream to know a broken furnace, a hospital visit, or a lost job is bound to happen some day.

Therefore, because we know this, we should develop a financial plan – before the crisis begins – so we can manage through the issue.


When faced with the news, Joseph was upfront with Pharaoh about the depth of the crisis. He didn’t sugar coat it or make it seem less important than it was. People were going to die – that’s a pretty tough pill to swallow.

The severity of the issue was never in question. With this knowledge, they took the proper steps to solve it.


Human tendency is to live it up during the good times. The concept of sacrifice runs counter to our nature when everything is running smoothly. We’d rather spend in the present than set aside money for the future.

If Joseph and the rest of Egypt had followed the “live-it-up” path, they would have perished when the famine hit. Instead, they sacrificed during the time of plenty to save themselves from the future financial crisis.


How did they sacrifice? Joseph instructed the Egyptians to save 20% of the produce from the land each year. They took to that task for seven years, putting the grain in storage bins.

Joseph’s passion for saving can be seen in the fact that he never stopped. He wasn’t taking any chances. The Bible tells us that he collected so much grain that he couldn’t count it anymore and stopped keeping records (Gen. 41:49). That’s an intense stockpile, more than enough to meet the need.


All this grain was placed in storehouses near the cities. He didn’t ship the grain off to some remote location where he couldn’t get to it at the right time.

He also didn’t convert the grain or trade it into a non-liquid asset like land or precious jewels. Those would have been useless in a food crisis. He knew this resource would be needed in a relatively short time frame so he kept the food in its current condition and as accessible as possible.


The planning for and living through this crisis period lasted 14 years. I’m sure at some point during the years of plenty certain Egyptians scoffed at the preparations that were taking place. However, Joseph stayed true to his task with intense focus and discipline. He never wavered or allowed distractions to sway his commitment to saving the people.

Does it seem like you are living from crisis to crisis, never able to get out ahead of them? If so, these lessons from the life of Joseph should be the starting point for your financial crisis management plan.

Questions: What’s the biggest thing you do to plan for a financial crisis? How do you handle your emotions during the tough times? What impresses you the most about the planning skills of Joseph?

Image at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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  1. Done by Forty says

    God tells some good stories, right? I hope our tough times, when they show up again, don’t last for anywhere near seven years. But who can tell? We’re pretty risk (and debt) averse because the consequences of not weathering the bad times are so much more dire than the opportunity costs of not taking on enough risk during the good times. The latter usually just has you kicking yourself asking “What if?” The former can take away everything you’ve got.

    • I know…this is one of my favorites. So many lessons to learn from Joseph’s life. I really sense his discipline and patience in waiting for God’s plan to unfold. I would have had difficulty demonstrating those qualities with everything he went through.

  2. Just like commenter before, I agree that emergency fund is also important. I think saving up a minimum of around 6 months of expenses for emergency fund is important so I can feel safe during crisis.

  3. This is exactly why I have an emergency fund. We don’t know what will happen or when, but it will. It sounds pessimistic but I think it’s realistic. I saw my parents go through one too many financial messes early on and never want to end up in one. Even though there’s temptation to spend everywhere, I’d rather make sacrifices to feel secure.

  4. “Human tendency is to live it up during the good times.” It’s so true. Many people have the attitude if they have any money leftover, then they need to go spend it right now. Saving isn’t very sexy and it can be hard at times when you have to say ‘no” to something you want and have money setting in your emergency fund. But boy are you glad you have it when “famine” strikes. I remember during the Great Recession when so many people lost their job. In many instances the writing was on the wall and some people were smart and ramped up their savings, started spending less and eliminated some unnecessary expenses while others did not. You should enjoy life and to me that means being prepared to weather what life may bring you – feast or famine.

    • That’s great perspective Shannon. We are solidly in the “if we have money left over, we save it” camp. The more we have at the end of the month to sock into savings, the better I feel about how that month went budget wise.

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