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To be like Joseph

Mr. Insignificant

You don’t get much more insignificant in a family of 12 than being number 11. As the 11th born you aren’t the baby of the family. And in this case you aren’t even the last baby boy. You are just number 11 with an abundant allotment of big brothers.

Joseph was an insignificant son with significant dreams. One night Joseph had a dream that one day he’d rule over his brothers. This was a seemingly impossible dream. And, sophomorically, he told his big brothers about his dream which lead to them hating him.

All throughout Joseph’s life he lived in the reality that he was chasing his dreams but his anti-dream was also chasing him. Over and over again we see Joseph’s life take wicked turns. His brothers staged his death while selling him into slavery. His slave owners trade him like a camel and he ends up in Potifer’s house. There he becomes the object of a cougar’s affection causing him to flee naked from the house before being caught, accused of adultery, and thrown in prison. On and on this calamity continues– his whole life!

Life didn’t just deal Joseph lemons. Life dealt him poison.  Joseph was a man with big, significant dreams but a murderous monkey on his back.

But that never stopped Joseph’s dream. He worked towards that dream, not knowing if it’d ever come true. Until one day it did!

We are all Joseph

Most of us are insignificant. By birth, by education, by performance, and by recognition… we are not born rulers or leaders of tribes.

But we all have dreams. Some are aspirational and within reach. And some are so big that our dreams make the 6 year old who lives inside of us blush to mention them in public.

We are all driven by dreams while gravitational held back by circumstance.

Joseph’s Posture

With all the crap that hit the fan in Joseph’s life no one would have blamed him if he’d defined himself by the poop splattered on the wall of his life. Everywhere he turned there were people sinning against him, seeking to destroy both him and his dreams.

Instead, Joseph makes a radical choice. He refused to allow the sins of others to define his life and ruin his dreams. No one could have forced him to do that. It came from within. It was a daily posture he took as he continually kept his eye on his dreams. He worked hard, he overcame, and eventually– his dreams came true.

The Cycle Ends with Me

When I think about my own life and my own dreams it is easy for me to think of all the obstacles. I can point to specific instances where my dreams were thwarted because someone sinned against me. (In some cases, maliciously intending to harm me.)

But the choice is mine. I can define my life by taking a victims posture or Joseph’s posture. I could be destroyed, defined, and devastated by the sins against me OR– supernaturally and by God’s grace– I can decide that the cycle of retribution, revenge, anger, malice, and sin ends with me.

I can’t control my circumstance but I can control my response to my circumstances.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

Genesis 50:20

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7 Responses to To be like Joseph

  1. Chris Lema July 5, 2012 at 7:50 am #

    One of the dynamics most people don’t talk about, when it comes to Joseph is that the road to his dreams enabled him to realize his dreams. You wrote, “he worked hard, he overcame, and eventually – his dreams came true,” and it’s so true. They came true precisely because he did work hard in the contexts he found himself in. He was (after a time) the #2 guy with Potiphar, and then (after a time), the #2 guy in the prison. Those aren’t simply jobs. Before his life took these downturns there was no way he’d be ready to be the #2 of all of Egypt. But by working hard, and focusing on service instead of a victim’s posture (or revenge), he trained himself to be an excellent #2 – precisely what was required to help him realize his big dreams!

    • Adam McLane July 5, 2012 at 7:52 am #

      Preach. Too many people expect their dreams to come to them. Instead, the simple reality is that most dreams come true because you out-work everyone around you pursuing the same dream.

      • dougpatten July 5, 2012 at 10:35 am #

        indeed. Jesus taught (Matt 5) and Peter restated (1Peter 2) that how we live– especially how we respond to these “negative turns” in our lives– determines whether others will see God’s presence in our lives, and whether or not He is glorified in that. Joseph “let his lights so shine” that others saw he was an excellent slave/prisoner/dream reader/ assistant to the chief of security, etc…well, you know how it goes from there.

  2. BrianFord July 5, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

    Thanks for this post today. I needed this one. Thanks for the encouragement.

  3. Audrey Wicks July 5, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

    Praying fervently for Joseph’posture.

  4. Sean Scott July 6, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

    Good post, Adam. In the “Me first, I-gotta-have-it-all-right-now” world in which we live we far too easily slip into victim mode.

    I’ve always looked up to the other Joseph in the Bible: The step-father of the Messiah. He humbly accepted the role God planned for him and did his duty while fading quietly into the background.

  5. Brandon Pachey July 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    Its so so true. Thanks for encouraging me today. Wow I need stuff like this.

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