Missio on Joseph: The Humility of Starting at the Bottom

Filing, sending faxes, scanning documents, setting up lunches – these are all part of my daily responsibilities: me, a college graduate and one who has always worked hard to do my best and be at the top. Most days I feel as if I am being truly humbled and stripped of all my pride and entitlement. I find myself in the lowest of positions wondering has God forgotten about me. What could possibly be my purpose here? I have worked so hard to excel. I deserve better than this. 


I can find encouragement from biblical stories such as Joseph’s testimony in Genesis, because his story, in many ways, is like my own. Joseph was one of Jacob’s twelve sons…and his favorite. To show his love, his father gave him a beautiful robe of many colors. Joseph worked hard, was loved (at least by dad), and had the gift of dreaming and interpreting God’s messages to the people.

Everything was going well for him until his brothers couldn’t take it anymore. They became so jealous that they sold him into slavery and destroyed his special robe to stage his death for their father, Jacob. Joseph certainly could have learned to watch his tongue and be more mindful of his brothers’ feelings, but he didn’t do anything that warranted his exile, in fact, he simply used the gifts God had given him to speak truth (a hard truth, though it was).  Yet he was sold to slavery by his brothers and shipped far away from everything he knew.

Eventually, Joseph reached Egypt, and his rotten luck traveled with him. Potiphar, Joseph’s master and one of the highest-ranking officials in Egypt, had just begun to trust Joseph with his affairs when his wife tried to seduce Joseph. Joseph resisted, so she made up a lie and had him thrown in jail.

Despite all this, through hardship after hardship Joseph never lost hope. He had faith in God’s promises and His plan and was open to serving wherever God called him. Because of his faithfulness, God used him in the most unlikely of places. Joseph interpreted dreams in prison for fellow prisoners and then later for Pharaoh himself. Joseph was able to warn Egypt of the seven years of famine to come, and because of this, the people around him were able to see God’s wisdom and power. It was obvious that God was with Joseph, and so the people wanted Joseph with them. From the lowest of lows, God used Joseph’s faithfulness; he rose to power and became essentially the Prime Minister of Egypt.

This story is inspiring! Although I can only see in glimpses, God’s plan is much bigger than my own. I don’t deserve anything. I deserve death, so anything more than that is a gift; my internship is a gift. Even in prison, Joseph continued to follow God, remaining open to being used to interpret dreams and make known the future. Joseph knew that interpretations belong to God, so he was able to proclaim His name and make Him known even in the darkest of places. In a similar way, I have been placed in a starting position at a fast paced hospital with a very diverse group of people from different cultures and walks of life that do not necessarily share my same views. I have been thrown into a frenzied place and must find a way to let God use me.


First, I think this comes with opening up and making myself available. I realize now how closed off I have been to God’s plan and purpose in me being here. Serving in such a lowly position and feeling as if no one notices has sent me into a perpetual pity party. However, I have now been convicted that even in the darkness; God can use me, a person who holds no power.

I’m encouraged by Joseph’s story in that he didn’t have to preach his religion to make God known. Joseph simply used his gifts and gave God the credit in the process. In a similar way, I feel as if I must earn the right to be heard here – working with people much older and with higher education. However, I know that actions speak much louder than words. Humbling myself to do the “dirty work” of the office, I must serve as Christ served, joyfully and thoroughly, giving God the glory along the way for helping me through each day and hoping that others will notice something different in me. The best compliment I think I could ever receive is what the people saw in Joseph. It was obvious that God was with Joseph, and so the people wanted Joseph with them. I must find a way to radiate Christ through my actions.

Thus, although I may feel like I have been abandoned and I deserve better than being an intern without much of a purpose, I must remember that things could be much worse. I must learn to trust in God’s divine plan for my life and hold close the truth that “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).

God can use any of us no matter where we are. We simply must open ourselves to being available and to being vessels. Like Joseph in Egypt, in DC I have been called out of my comfort zone, away from friends, family, and the name I had established for myself back home. But God is faithful. He has not given up on me, and therefore I have no right to give up on Him. Joseph went from slavery to prison to a place of high power in Egypt next to King Pharaoh. God created the world from nothing, so surely He can find a way to use me here as a lowly hospital intern.  

My prayer is that God would use me as an instrument of healing, as a means of bringing light into the darkness. I’m still very unsure of what this looks like, but I know that if God can create the world in seven days and move Joseph from slavery to power, surely he can find a way to use me, the intern, the weak in the eyes of this world. 


Mary Mitchum interns in the medical field in Washington, DC and is a member of the 2015-2016 Capital Fellows Program.

Images: FreeImages.com/Peter Skadberg, Marcelo Gerpe

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