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Book review: The Joseph Calling

| by Ronald Keener

There are a few authors and organizations asking if they can help you “find your purpose.” I just finished the Chazowncourse(the Hebrew word for vision and subject of this course) at my church that was written by Craig Groeschel. These sort of programs—many of them saying “it will change your life”—go back to (and likely before) the Network materials originated by Willow Creek Church before the turn of this century.

Now there is another one, written by the respected Os Hillman, founder and president of Marketplace Leaders, who has written in the past on similar topics. His newest book in this genre is The Joseph Calling: 6 Stages to Discover, Navigate, and Fulfill Your Purpose [BroadStreet, 2017].

I will share right away those six stages—Recruitment, Character Development, Isolation, The Cross, Problem Solving, and Networks, which are pretty much self-explanatory. In reading the book I took the liberty of first reading a closing chapter where Hillman says “The purpose of the six stages of the Joseph calling is designed to usher you into the larger story of your life. That larger story should be a life that is filled with the activity of God and the manifest presence of his life being lived through you.”

And he says further: “I have lived enough years on the other side of walking through these stages that I am now seeing the fruit from successfully passing through them.” I don’t know Hillman’s age, but mine is 78, and I am still learning my purpose in life—some of it I can surmise, some of seems clear, but much of it still baffles me. “We are not to think up things to do for God; rather, we are to join him in what he wants to do and what he is already doing in the earth today,” Hillman writes.

“I have personally experienced this principle in many situations, and so I share these experiences to encourage your faith to see the fruit of successfully walking through the six stages of the Joseph calling.” Hillman goes on to share examples of the fruit of his life and ministry, among other stories, noting that, “sometimes we assume God is not working when he is actually working in the most unlikely of places.”

Six stages in Hillman says that there are six stages of a call from God that he has found in scripture:

• Recruitment: God recruits the individual to the larger story of his or her life usually through a crisis.

• Character development:God takes the individual through a series of character tests designed to prepare him or her for leadership.

• Isolation: God often isolates the leader to turn messes into messages.

• The Cross: God usually allows a graduate-level test that brings the leader to the end of himself or herself. This is often a betrayal by someone close to him or her.

• Problem solving:Like Jesus, God presents his leaders with a major problem He has brought them to the earth to solve.

• Networks: God values unity through networks of people to model John 17:21-23, which is Jesus’ prayer for his people to be one as he and the Father are one, so that the world might believe in him.

Hillman says that for 25 years he has “studied the ways of God and the processes by which he invites people into relationship with himself. More specifically, I’ve studied how God moves people into their specific calling.” There is much wisdom in this book that we all can take into our own lives. Even at my old age, there is a thing or two I can still learn from this book before being called home.

Ronald Keener

Ronald E. Keener was editor of the national business and leadership magazine, "Church Executive," for eight years, and writes from Chambersburg, Pa. His church interests lie with congregational transformation, church health movement, church strengthening and revitalization and reporting on churches that have not just survived but thrived. 


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This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow.
Isaiah 48:17 (NLT)
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