I have a lot of bible ‘favourites’, and Joseph has always been one of them.
Perhaps it is the fond memories of being read ‘Joseph and his Coat of Many Colours’ as a little girl. Or perhaps it is the power of his story and the mighty works that God did in and through Joseph, using him to position his chosen people (the Israelites) in Egypt.
Whatever the reason, Joseph’s story, found in Genesis chapters 37 to 48, offers gold that has shaped my life and my relationship with God.
Joseph gives us too much for a single blog, so I thought I would cover off some of the revelations God has given me through Joseph’s story over a few blogs.
Welcome to The Joseph Series.
JOSEPH: THE DREAMER
Joseph’s story begins in Genesis 37. Yep, he’s one of the early bible ‘characters’.
He’s the favourite son of Jacob, the grandson of Isaac and the great-grandson of Abraham. An enviable family tree!
The bible tells us in Genesis 37:3 that Jacob (also called Israel) loved Joseph more than any of his other sons (of which there were 11!).
“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age, and he made him a coat of many colours.”
When Joseph was only 17, God gave him a big vision for his life, delivered in two dreams. Genesis 37, verses five to 11, recount these dreams and the reaction that Joseph’s brothers and father had upon hearing them:
“Now Joseph dreamed a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. He said to them, “Please listen to this dream which I have dreamed. We were binding sheaves in the field. All of a sudden my sheaf rose up and stood upright, and your sheaves stood around it and bowed down to my sheaf.”
“His brothers said to him, “Will you really reign over us, or will you really have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more because of his dreams and his words.”
“Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “I have dreamed another dream. The sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.””
“But when he told it to his father and his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Will I and your mother and your brothers really come to bow down ourselves to you to the ground?””
“So his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.”
(Genesis 37: 5-11 MEV)
JOSEPH: THE VISION CARRIER
I love it when God gives you a new revelation from a scripture you have read a thousand times (well, maybe not quite a thousand). When I read these verses afresh recently, God shared some insights on what it looks like to carry a big vision for your life.
If you have a vision for your life, whether God gave it to you in a dream, through a spoken word to your heart from the Holy spirit, or a hope that’s been brewing deep within you, you’re a vision carrier like Joseph!
As a fellow vision-carrier, this passage of scripture taught me five things about stewarding a vision…
1. VISION VERBALISATION CAN BE A CATALYST FOR ATTEMPTED DERAILMENTS
God gave Joseph a very clear vision for his life.
Then, in the verses and chapters that follow, once Joseph verbalised his vision with to his family, we see a number of circumstances that had the potential to derail Joseph from his vision.
Joseph’s brothers were already jealous of him. He was the much-loved and favourite son of their father. But when Joseph shared his vision with his brothers, their jealousy grew even deeper. They hated him!
Then we see Joseph’s father rebuke him after he shares his vision.
These were reactions that Joseph could have allowed to derail him. He could have let them fuel doubt or insecurity around the vision firmly planted in his heart. He could have let his family’s response convince him that he misunderstood the dreams from God; that he wasn’t capable; wasn’t qualified; that the vision was too big or too hard.
Vision is a lot to carry, and like Joseph, we need to be prepared for the rebukes, attacks and negativity that comes against vision-carriers.
The devil doesn’t want us to confidently carry God’s vision for our lives. If we do, it means we’re on the path of outworking God’s plan, and that is exactly what the devil strives to interrupt. So, of course, he will try to attack our vision. And he’ll use the words and actions of those closest to us, to try and derail us.
In the chapters and verses that follow, we see that Joseph does not allow anything to derail him from God’s vision, not even the harsh words and reactions of the family he loved so dearly.
As a vision-carrier, be prepared to deflect attempted derailments.
2. CAREFULLY CHOOSE WHO YOU SHARE YOUR VISION WITH
I studied at Bachelor of Commerce at university, with a vantage to work in marketing for some amazing organisations. I remember voicing this dream to my boss at the time. His words to me were: “You’ll have to work in sales for 10-years before you can hope to get an entry level marketing job.”
Have you ever shared your vision with someone, only to have them speak against it? They may have told you it wasn’t possible; given you all the reasons why it won’t work or can’t happen; or met you with negativity and doubt rather than support and encouragement.
This is exactly what happened to Joseph when he shared his dreams with his family.
Joseph’s brothers already hated him because he was their father’s favourite. I’m not sure what kind of response Joseph was expecting, but it was never going to be a good one. Jealousy is not capable of producing anything positive!
Learn from Joseph and use your discretion when choosing who you share your vision with. Entrust it to people who are like-minded, wise, further along the journey; people who have been there and done it, who are all-around champions of you and God’s call on your life!
3. PROTECT YOUR VISION FIERCELY
Despite the jealous and hateful response of Joseph’s brothers, the rebuke of his father, and the devil’s attempts to derail him, Joseph doesn’t give up on his vision. Instead, he protects it fiercely!
When that person told me my career journey would be a very slow one, I’ll admit my initial reaction was disappointment and doubt. I perceived this person to have more experience and industry insight than me, so of course their view carried weight. But, after a fleeting moment of concern, I refocused on the dream in my heart, choosing to continue pursuing it rather than allow the comments to derail it.
If God has given you a vision for your life, you need to guard it in your heart. You need to choose what words you allow to reside over it.
With vision comes the responsibility to protect it, deflect the enemy’s derailments, and stay the path.
4. CARRY YOUR VISION WITH GOD
How did Joseph do this?
He did it with God.
The bible tells us that God was always with Joseph.
In Genesis 37, verses 12 to 36, we see the jealousy simmering within Joseph’s brothers reach boiling point when they sell Joseph into slavery!
Joseph is taken to Egypt and lives as a slave, firstly under Potiphar [an Officer of Pharaoh], and then under the keeper of the prison that he is eventually thrown into after being wrongly convicted.
Throughout all these tumultuous conditions, one thing remained consistent for Joseph: God was ALWAYS with him!
“The Lord was with Joseph, so that he become a prosperous man” (Genesis 39:2 MEV).
“His [Joseph] master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper” (Genesis 39:3 MEV).
“But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison” (Genesis 39:21).
“The keeper of the prison did not concern himself with anything under Joseph’s charge because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it to prosper” (Genesis 39:23 MEV).
We don’t have to carry and protect our vision alone. God gives us the vision and He will help us carry it when we remain in Him.
5. WHEN YOU REMAIN IN GOD, TRIALS CAN SERVE TO OUTWORK THE VISION
Throughout the rest of Joseph’s story, we see trials that could have derailed him actually serve to position him in the land of the vision.
In Genesis 41 Joseph is still in prison, and is given the opportunity to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams. After Joseph accurately interprets Pharaoh’s dreams, demonstrating the Spirit of God at work in him, Pharaoh makes Joseph second in charge over all Egypt.
In this mighty station, we eventually see Joseph’s brothers and father bow down to him, in Genesis 45. That was the vision that God gave Joseph back in Genesis 37!
The actions of Joseph’s family, specifically his brothers, actually primed Joseph for the manifestation of the vision.
The trials and tribulations that have the potential to derail you, God uses to position you for the outworking of the vision!
VISION-CARRIERS, BE ENCOURAGED!
So, take heart vision-carriers! Joseph shows us how to deflect derailments and protect the vision. He reminds us that, ultimately, it is God who helps us carry and outwork that vision!