The Backwards Way of Moving Forward in God's Plan

Brittany Rust

by Brittany Rust


Over the course of twenty years in vocational ministry, three times I have faced a major setback that almost derailed my calling.

At 25-years-old, after a moral failure in ministry. Seven years later, on the heels of traumatic church hurt that culminated in losing my second child. And most recently, leaving a job I love to put my family first, and with that, trading much opportunity for little.

I’ve contemplated giving up when counting the cost. And maybe you have, too?

“I try but it backfires.”
“I give so much and it goes unnoticed.”
“I do the right thing only to face betrayal at trusted hands.”
“I invest with no return.”

How do we move forward, sisters, when discouragement is so great? I believe Joseph has some encouragement for us in this area.

A Dream and a Pit

Joseph had dreams of leadership and it was something his brothers were not fans of. You likely know the story—they threw him into a pit until merchants came by, selling their brother into slavery (Genesis 37-38).

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Joseph came from a prosperous family and was the apple of his father’s eye. But all that changed in one day. His brothers cast him away and he was taken far from his home to serve another family.

Yet Joseph flourished there, becoming head of the household. He was faithful to honor this family and God gave him favor. But then he was falsely accused by the wife and sent to prison.

While there, God again gave Joseph favor and, eventually, he was elevated to a leadership role. He was a prisoner granted authority over a justice system because God gave him success.

If I had been in Joseph’s position, every curve ball would have been a tidal wave of discouragement, doubt and wavering. Casting those same thoughts of “but I do the right thing and it doesn’t work out, so what’s the point?” But Joseph didn’t falter; he persisted in faithfulness. And, because he was faithful where God had him—no matter how bleak and hopeless the circumstances were—God showed Joseph immense favor and success.

God Opens the Doors

Do you see it? There is a backwards progression of calling.

Many of us would look at going from a comfortable home to slavery and then to prison as a continual demotion. A drifting further and further from the dream. How could a prisoner ever hope to lead others in an impactful way?

But God was up to something else—He was moving Joseph closer to the dream. He was opening doors Joseph never could have opened in a million attempts on his own.

In God’s plan, Joseph was moving from a place of no authority to running a large household to operating an organization to eventually becoming second in command of the most powerful nation in the world.

That’s not a progression from bad to worse but rather one of promotion.

When Joseph was that young man in a long line of brothers, all he had was a dream. There was no visible path to leadership and certainly no infrastructure in place to sustain the calling God had for him. However, it was this difficult journey of unexpected twists that built the very infrastructure Joseph needed to lead Egypt. He could not have gone from his father’s house to the palace. He needed the refinement leadership required.

A Call to Persistence

Pursuing the dream God has put in your heart can be flat out hard sometimes. You may even want to give up. I’ve been there, friend.

But what if we flipped things and saw the demotions as a promotion? It doesn’t mean every challenge is without its lesson or isn’t a result of poor choices. But it does mean that God’s way of working behind the scenes may not add up to the natural eye. However, to the spiritual eye, He is weaving together a purposeful journey in supernatural ways.

This isn’t your doing but rather His. It’s Jesus working in and through you to build His kingdom. Joseph’s calling wasn’t to sit on a throne, but to save his family and a nation from starvation. Our dreams, as well, are for Him and not ourselves – to play a small part in His gigantic, beautiful plan of redemption. Set your eyes on Christ, choosing to use every moment for His glory and the good of others. That’s our true calling.

So, what can you do when faced with discouragement in your calling?

1. Trust God’s plan and His ways, even when it doesn’t make sense.
2. Be faithful when it’s hard.
3. Know that it’s God who opens the right doors.
4. And pray for the keeping power of Christ.

God is building in you the infrastructure needed to sustain the calling. That isn’t going to be easy or direct, but it will be worth it!

“The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph's charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed.” Genesis 39:23 (ESV)


Brittany Rust is a Bible teacher passionate to see people impacted by God’s Word and  inspired to be thoughtful students of Scripture. She is the founder of Truth and Grace Ministries and the author of five books, in addition to being an ordained minister with twenty years of ministry experience. Brittany lives with her family in Springfield, Mo. Learn more at