The Joseph Calling: 6 Stages to Discover, Navigate, and Fulfill Your Purpose

The Joseph Calling (Broad Street Publishing, 2017)

Os Hillman, founder and president of Marketplace Leaders, titles his latest book The Joseph Calling: 6 Stages to Discover, Navigate, and Fulfill Your Purpose.  First, Mr. Hillman notes that adversity functions as a key catalyst in how God moves people into their calling.  Thus, more often than not, people God uses simply respond to a crisis event rather than initiating a vocation from their own heart.  Therefore, through a Joseph calling, you become known by the adversity you’ve gone through in order to spiritually and physically provide for others.  Most importantly, without a foundational understanding of your purpose, your adversity and suffering won’t be worth it.

However, the author notes, you must discover why God created you before you start trying to determine your purpose.  And your underlying purpose should always be to do the will of the Father.  As a result, your relationship with God enables you to derive your earthly assignments.  So, when God calls you to walk down a specific path, He gives you – and only you – the grace for that assignment.  Also, in addition to discovering your purpose, you need to discover your anointing.  Os defines an anointing as when your gift functions easily and seems natural.

But, Mr. Hillman stresses, each of us must enter a valley – usually unwillingly.  Consequently, in that valley we experience the God of the valley and find strength in His faithfulness.  Furthermore, in the valley God brings us to the place where all we want is Christ.  Also, the valley provides fertile ground for a harvest of wisdom and virtue.  Through faithfulness in the valley, we enter a new dimension with God that we never though possible.  God doesn’t waste any valley experiences.  Hence, it’s important that we don’t attempt to extricate ourselves out of our valley time.  For doing so results in leanness of the soul.

When we understand crises and how God uses them, we’re less prone to make ourselves victims.  For example, the isolation stage reveals truth like nothing else can.  In the process, isolation changes us and removes what hinders us, forcing us to draw deep upon God’s grace.  And God’s performing a deeper work in us that cannot be seen.  Through our own personal cross, we experience the depths of God.  Plus, the fruit of this maturing process often results in successful problem-solving.  Thus, this gives you authority in the area God wants you to operate.  So when Satan throws bricks at you, tap into heaven.  That allows God to solve the problem and build His kingdom.

In conclusion, Os exhorts you not to think up things to do for God.  Rather, join Him in what He wants to do and is doing:

“Watch and wait for the trumpet call of God.  When the signs appear, then step into it.  Allow God to use you to be an instrument to manifest his presence into that specific situation.”

When we understand crises

“When we understand crises and how God uses them in our lives, we’re less prone to make ourselves victims.  Instead, we appreciate how these crises are used to make us more fulfilled and to bring us into our larger story.”- Os Hillman

In Chapter 8 (“Stage 1: Recruitment”) of The Joseph Calling, Os Hillman notes that often a circumstance ushers leaders into the larger story of their lives.   Also, they didn’t choose this circumstance.  Yet, God rooted it in their unique purpose.  Furthermore, only God determines when the time is right.  No human being can force the timetable.  Mr. Hillman summarizes:

“There is usually some type of kairos moment or crises of belief in the life of one on whom God has place an extraordinary  call.  Every call from God is extraordinary . . . . We may not affect the masses, but we are all called to a unique assignment from God.”

Put another way, personal crises function as the front door to discovering God’s larger story for us.  however, Os observes, those who fulfill the larger story of their lives rarely seek to do that.  Instead, a crises initiates the process.

And sometimes, Os states, we realize we’ve been born for a specific assignment.  As a result, we understand God’s placed us into the time and space of His choosing.  For He intends to use us for  a significant purpose He wants to accomplish on earth.

However, at times we shy away from situations ripe for our involvement.  Perhaps, Mr. Hillman suggests, we:

  • think the situation conflicts with our talents
  • possibly fear making a mistake
  • even fear failure itself

The psalmist reminds us:

“For you formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.  I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”- Psalm 139:13 (NKJV)

Today’s question: What helps you understand crises and how God uses them?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Surrender your will to Jesus”

A purpose that God intends for you to fulfill

“While you may not fulfill the purpose for which you were made, you still have a purpose that God intends for you to fulfill (emphasis author’s).”- Os Hillman

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit . . .”- John 15:16 (ESV)

Os Hillman concludes Chapter 2 of The Joseph Calling as he states two ways we realize God’s call.  God’s calling may come as a “clap of thunder or it may dawn gradually.”  However, whether your calling comes quickly or slowly, Os asserts, an undercurrent of the supernatural always accompanies it.  In addition, this undercurrent is inexpressible and produces a “glow.”

Thus, Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest) notes what happens if you agree with God’s purpose.  He will bring your conscious as well as deepest levels into perfect harmony.  Yet, this doesn’t imply there’s only one special niche for you to fill.  Or that you’re sunk if  you miss filling that niche.  As Os encourages, God’s much bigger than any miscalculation or disobedience on your part.

Most importantly, doing the will of your Father constitutes your purpose.  Also, your relationship with God provides the source of your earthly assignments.  Oswald Chambers once said:

“Jesus never measured His life by how or where he was of the greatest use.  God places His saints where they will bring the most glory to him, and we are totally incapable of judging where that may be.”

Furthermore, Os stresses, we each must question our involvement in a specific activity.  Is that activity a God activity, or merely a good activity?

Today’s question: What do you believe is the purpose that God intends you to fulfill?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Don’t fear the desert”

The two most important days

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”- Mark Twain

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”- Jeremiah 1:5 (NIV)

In Chapter 2 (“Discovering Your Purpose”) of The Joseph Calling, Os Hillman defines the way you discover how God wants to use your life and work.  You must know why God created you in the first place.  The author observes that discovering why God created you precedes trying to determine your purpose.  Otherwise, the things on which you base fulfillment in life hang you up.  This, in turn, only leads to frustration and disappointment.  For without purpose, life’s meaningless.

Most importantly, Mr. Hillman asserts, you must begin with God and God alone to find your purpose.  First and foremost, Os states, God (1) created you to know Him and (2) to have an intimate relationship with Him.  Thus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, establishing this relationship with God becomes vital to discovering your life’s purpose.  Otherwise, you use the wrong motives to fulfill your purpose.  For example, wrong motives include fear, insecurity, pride, money, relationships, guilt, or unresolved anger.

In conclusion, Os ties together motivation and purpose.  He explains:

“God’s desire is for you to be motivated out of love for him and to desire to worship him in all that you do.  As you develop this relationship with God, he will begin to reveal his purpose for your life.  Your purpose in life . . . is nonnegotiable.  God had a plan in mind when you became flesh and blood on earth. . . . There is no changing God’s purpose for your life, but you may not fulfill it because free will is involved.”

Today’s question: Please describe the two most important days in your life.

Tomorrow’s blog: the new Short Meditation, “Each day holds a surprise — only if we expect it”

First discover your purpose

“But if you are in a season of adversity right now, it is helpful to first discover your purpose and know why God has made you.  Without that foundational understanding, the adversity and suffering won’t be worth it.”- Os Hillman

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.”- Edmund Burke, Speech on Mr. Fox’s East India Bill (December 1783)

Os Hillman begins Chapter 1 (“You Have A Joseph Calling On Your Life”) of The Joseph Calling: 6 Stages to Discover, Navigate, and Fulfill Your Purpose as he defines a Joseph calling.  Os cites J. Gunnar Olson:

“A Joseph calling is a marketplace call that a man or woman goes through in order to become a spiritual and physical provider to others.  You become known, just like Joseph became known, by the adversity you have gone through.”

Thus, wherever you are currently, press into Jesus with all your heart.  Spiritually speaking, Jesus will guide you to the next destination.  Even though you’ll most likely make some mistakes along the way, Mr. Hillman encourages you to remember that “your call is greater than the mistakes you have made.”

In conclusion, Os provides a brief description of the six stages of the Joseph calling;

  1. The recruitment stage – usually precipitated through a crisis
  2. The character development stage – God heals and corrects specific character issues
  3. The isolation stage – integrating faith into your daily life; God turns your mess into messages, you into a messenger
  4. The cross – betrayals often occur during this stage; here you learn the lesson of forgiveness
  5. The problem-solving stage – working with others to help them navigate their own adversity
  6. The networking stage – forming key leadership relationships

Today’s question: To help discover your purpose, where do you place yourself in the six stages of the Joseph calling?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The two most important days”

Reconcile adversity and crisis with destiny and purpose

“I want to help readers reconcile adversity and crisis with destiny and purpose. . . . When we understand God’s processes, we’re more likely to embrace his truths, and subsequently desire a deeper relationship with him.” – Os Hillman

In his brief foreword to Os Hillman’s latest book, The Joseph Calling, Gunnar Olson states Mr. Hillman’s book differentiates between the attributed righteousness received through faith in Jesus and the righteousness that comes from walking in obedience to God.  This process involves the glorious experiences of God’s power.  However, it also involves the sharing of death to self, so that Christ’s revealed in us.  This is a difficult and painful, but necessary, process.

Next, in his introduction, “A God-Sized Assignment,” Os Hillman stresses that God designed a purpose and destiny for each of us.  In other words, God’s created a God-sized assignment for each of us to fulfill on earth.  Most importantly, adversity provides one of the key catalysts for moving people into their specific calling.

Speaking about people in the Bible, as well as people in modern life, Mr. Hillman states:

“More often than not, the people God used were simply responding to a crisis event in their lives rather than initiating a vision that came from their own hearts.”

Although, the author notes, not all people work through the unique six-step process of the Joseph calling, history attests to this calling.  God takes people through this process to achieve a higher purpose in their lives.  Furthermore, God has plans for every stage of your life, regardless of age.

In conclusion, Mr. Hillman exhorts:

“God wants to reveal to you your purpose, why he made you, and why he sent you into this world.  He wants you to know his unique assignment for you – and only you- to fulfill on planet Earth.”

Today’s question: What Bible verses speak to you as you reconcile adversity and crisis with destiny and purpose?  Please share.

Coming Monday: the new Short Meditation, “Each day holds a surprise — only if we expect it”

Tomorrow’s blog: “First discover your purpose”

A vivid point of light from Scripture

The streamlined diesel train awaits passengers at Playland Amusement Park in Willow Springs, IL.

“We all need a vivid point of light from Scripture — a particular verse that resonates with us personally, to guide or paths and give us a reference point, no matter the size of the waves.”- Bill Hybels, Simplicity (2014)

“You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”- Psalm 18:28

Playland Amusement Park, once located in present-day Willow Springs, IL, opened in mid-summer 1950.  On summer weekday afternoons in the late 1950s,  my next door neighbor, Dorothy Podewell, would take her son Cliff, my mom Elinor, and me to Playland- about a ten-mile drive from Evergreen Park.

Primarily a kiddie park with a total of 30-40 rides, Playland provided minimal landscaping, with dirt and gravel paths.  Although Playland charged no admission, patrons paid per ride.  Upon arriving, I’d immediately head for my favorite ride, the streamlined diesel train.  At one point it ran through a 300-foot tunnel.  In general, I gravitated toward rides that maintained direct contact with terra firma, like the Electric Street Cars.  If I felt particularly daring, I’d try my hand at the bumper cars!  And to cool off, a refreshing strawberry soda beckoned at the concession stand.

By 1979, Playland’s simplicity no longer competed with larger, fancier amusement parks like Six Flags Great America in Gurnee.  Playland closed.  Hence, today a mobile home park occupies the site.

Writing in Simplicity, Pastor Bill Hybels asserts that, when adversity batters us and we’re most likely to go off-course, a “life verse” guides us back to what matters most.  In other words, a vivid point of light.  Pastor Hybels defines a life-verse as:

  • a powerful, clarifying tool when it comes to simplifying our lives
  • a short passage of Scripture serving as a rallying cry to guide and focus the current season of your life, or your life as a whole
  • carefully chosen after prayerful consideration- resonates with you in a personal way
  • a continual guide back to God’s mission and vision for your life

Furthermore, Pastor Hybels describes three key reasons and benefits for choosing a life-verse:

1.  It clarifies what matters most.  As a Christ follower, God’s given you an earthly assignment that makes specific use of your unique gifts.  Thus, your life  verse reflects God’s particular guidance in your life.  Read, write, or recite your life verse every day.  It always recenters you on your purpose.

2.  It calls out the best in me.  Your life verse calls out the best in you.  Therefore, it minces no words.  Also, it provides blindingly clear marching orders for your life.  Most importantly, a Christ follower’s motivation should come from within.

3.  It brings comfort.  Every effort you expend to advance the purposes of God in this world is never in vain.  Whether your effort is big or small, visible or invisible, God Himself notices and appreciates your effort.  Ultimately, you do what you do for an audience of one.  Guided by a vivid point of light from Scripture.

How we define the word good

“One of the reasons we have a hard time believing that God’s grace is working for good in our lives is because of how we define the word good.  We have our own ideas of how God should work for our good . . .”- Kyle Idleman

Pastor Kyle Idleman concludes Chapter 10 of Grace Is Greater as he talks about how we define the word good.  We tend to believe that if God works everything for our good, the results should match how we define the word good.  Conversely, when adversity strikes, we feel that God’s failed to keep His promises.

However, Kyle observes, God’s grace works in the midst of our pain to bring about goodness in two ways:

  1. God’s grace works in your pain to draw you closer to Jesus.  The worst thing that ever happened to you ends up as the best thing that ever happened.  Why?  Because that event brought you closer to Jesus.
  2. God’s grace works in your pain to make you more like Jesus.  God uses all you’ve been through to make you more like Jesus.  Therefore, your pain always has a purpose.  And when pain has a purpose, we’re able to find the strength to endure.

In conclusion, Kyle finds it helpful to distinguish between reason and purpose.  That’s because we don’t always know if there’s a reason for our pain.  But, we do know that God, in His grace, always provides a purpose.  Hence, Pastor Idleman compares reason and purpose.


  • looks for a because
  • wants a logical explanation that makes sense out of what happened


  • focuses on the for
  • offers us a hope that God is able to work good out of what happened

As Kyle encourages, just keep reading.

Today’s question: How do you define the word good?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: the Annotated Bibliography of Grace Is Greater

Off the shelf people

“But God doesn’t produce off the shelf people.  Each person has been custom designed by His loving, sovereign hand.”- Dr. Tony Evans

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”- Proverbs 3:5

As Dr. Tony Evans continues his Introduction (“What is Destiny?”) to Detours, he explains what it means to “find God.”  Pastor Evans means “to get close to God and know God’s heart. ”  Also, to “find God” means recognizing God’s voice more than anyone else’s in your life.

Therefore, as you obey and serve the Lord, He makes His purpose for you crystal clear.  God doesn’t engage you in a game of hide-and-seek.  Rather, the Lord simply wants you to seek Him first.

However, you negatively affect others when you fail to live out your purpose.  Dr. Evans explains:

“We are all interconnected in God’s kingdom, and that’s why it’s critical that we all make seeking God and living out our purpose an important thing to do.  Not just for others but also because it will benefit you.”

Hence, when we find the strength to keep going when circumstances dictate most people give up, we know we’re fulfilling our purpose.   Yet, we must guard against demanding our will, and in the process missing out on God’s perfect destiny for us.

We tend to want the tangible- wanting what we want, know, and see.  But, God created us for so much more and desires to teach us what that is.  In order for God to do that, we need to let go of our plans and our will.

In conclusion, to become God’s masterpiece, He must sanctify you.  He makes you more like Jesus Christ.  To accomplish this, God often places detours in your life.  In Chapter 1, Dr. Evans discusses the connection between detours and destiny.

Today’s question: What Bible verses enable you to avoid seeing yourself or others as off the shelf people?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: the latest Short Meditation- “A child’s heart, but a grown-up’s head”

An effective life

“An effective life cannot be quantified. . . . An effective life has to do with the position and condition of your soul.”- Judah Smith

In Chapter 7 (“An Effective Life”) of How’s Your Soul?, Pastor Judah Smith takes issue with a common childhood question often asked by adults.  That question- “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  Defining life as a destination, the question insinuates that life is about arriving, rather than a journey.

Therefore, Judah believes the question needs to be changed.  He suggests: “What do you want your life to look like?” or “What kind of soul do you want to have?”

Furthermore, Judah’s questions spark an honest evaluation of the effectiveness of our lives.  Hence, this contrasts with something simpler, but harder to measure- living a life worth living.  It follows, then, that our souls possess a God-given need for purpose and significance.  Pastor Smith explains:

“A truly effective life, though, begins with an effective soul.  It flows from a soul that functions and finds its value not in external accomplishments but in its relationship to God.  As our souls find themselves in God, our lives will find their purpose, place, and value in Him as well.”

In addition, Pastor Smith notes that the apostle Paul’s closing comments to the Corinthians contain two major elements (purpose and significance) of the effective life.  Also, these two elements shine through Paul’s life because they permeated his lifestyle:

“But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a side door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.”- 1 Corinthians 16:9

However, such a life isn’t always easy nor perfect.  Along the way, we encounter challenges and difficulties.  Yet, even in the midst of adversity, we can be full, fruitful, and effective.

Today’s question: Currently, how would you describe the position and condition of your soul?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Surrendered and surrounded”