Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more…His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. (Genesis 37:5, 8)
God has given you a dream for your work.
Maybe it’s doubling your business so that you can provide more jobs that lead to human flourishing. Maybe it’s writing a book to help others learn from your mistakes. Maybe God has given you a dream for an entirely different career than the one you hold today.
If you have breath in your lungs, I’m confident that God has given you a dream for your work.
But I’m also confident that there are many moments when you feel a disconnect between your dream and your present reality—a gap between what God has placed in your heart and what he has placed in your hands.
Joseph understood the pain of staring into that gap better than most.
In today’s passage, we see God giving Joseph a vocational dream inside a literal dream. Joseph’s vision was that one day he would be in a position of authority so great that even his elder brothers would be subject to him.
In Genesis 41, we see this dream become a reality when Joseph is 30 years old. But today’s passage occurred when Joseph was just 17 (see Genesis 37:2).
There was a 13 year gap between the giving of Joseph’s dream and the fulfillment of it. And the details of what happened in that gap are some of the most heart-wrenching in Scripture.
Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery. He was falsely accused of sexual harassment. He was unjustly imprisoned and forgotten by the very people he helped in prison (see Genesis 37-39).
This life looked like a far cry from the dream God gave him as a teenager. How did Joseph respond to the painful gap between his vision and his reality?
He worked with diligence on the work God had given him to do even if it wasn’t his (literal) “dream job” (see Genesis 39:1-6). He chose to obey God rather than taking shortcuts to power (see Genesis 39:6-10). And most of all, he cultivated his relationship with God (see Genesis 41:37-45).
In short, Joseph focused on faithfulness to the Dream-giver over the fulfillment of his dreams.
You and I would be wise to do the same. Joseph reminds us that God’s people don’t abandon their vocational dreams, but we do make them secondary to obedience to and relationship with the Dream-giver. Because without God, your professional dream—whether fulfilled or not—will always become a nightmare.