Discerning Reader Editorial Review
Reviewed 04/29/2010 by John Bird.
Recommended. A book about choices and destiny from a biblical perspective.
Before I began reading The Joseph Road, I didn't know anything about Jerry White. But by the time that I finished his book, he had earned my respect and admiration. He's the type of man that I want to spend time with and learn from. And his is a book that I'm glad I read. White's book is something like an expository sermon through the life of Joseph. From his coat of many colors to his request to have his bones carried out of Egypt, no detail is left untouched.
Each chapter begins with a Scriptural account of Joseph. Then the author explains and illustrates the lesson with stories from his own life. And every chapter concludes with application and helpful "Questions for Reflection."
So what is the Joseph Road? Basically, it's making the best of your situation—working hard and being faithful wherever you're at. "Not knowing one thing about the future, Joseph simply did good in whatever tasks or opportunities came his way."
White stresses the importance of hard work, faithfulness, perseverance, obedience, and trust throughout The Joseph Road.
At first I suspected that this was another "be faithful and God will bless you" book. And in a sense, it is. But it's not, be faithful and God will make you powerful. Or, be faithful and God will keep you healthy. Or, be faithful and God will give you a new BMW. Instead, it's be faithful knowing that your faithfulness may lead to persecution. Be faithful knowing that people may hate you for it. Be faithful knowing that it may keep you from worldly advancement. Be faithful, and you'll be blessed with the peace that comes from knowing that you've been faithful. Be faithful, and you'll be blessed by being a blessing to others.
White tells readers to consider adversity and tragedy as opportunities. We should remember that God brought about good through Joseph's being sold into slavery. Though we may not see it, we must trust that God has a purpose for whatever we're going through, too.
This isn't empty talk for White, whose son was murdered in 1990. Even in that tragedy, White sees God’s sovereignty and goodness. "I searched desperately for God's plan when our son was murdered. Reflecting later, I wrote these words: 'There is more to life than being alive. There is an eternal life with God that supersedes all the goals of humanity.' Now I see some of God's purposes—certainly not all, but some.”
What were these purposes? Did they have to do with temporal blessings? No. “He [God] crushed my pride and ego. He sent me back to the basics of my beliefs about God. He drove me to the Scriptures. He opened doors to other peoples’ lives in a profound way. He put my achievements where they belonged: in the trash bin.”
In another place, White writes: "If our hope is temporal—based on happiness, success, security, and material possessions—it won't last. Many of us will spend our last days in a small room with the remnants of everything we've accumulated in life stored in boxes, given to Goodwill, or distributed to our children."
The Joseph Road is about leadership--godly, heavenly minded leadership. The kind of leadership exhibited by Joseph, and later, by Jesus. And leadership that is not motivated by a desire for gain, but by a desire to do what is right, to serve others, and to please God.
I particularly appreciate White's emphasis on hard work. Whatever our vocation, whether a dream job or drudgery, we should do our best. Joseph is the perfect example: "A resignation to his fate pushed him forward. He simply decided to work hard and be a loyal slave...Joseph's only responsibility was to do well in what he was assigned."
Only one little thing in the book bothered me. In the front of the book we find the disclaimer that all Scripture quotations are from the NIV "unless otherwise identified." Other quotes come from the NASB, The Message, The Living Bible, and the NKJV. But several passages did not come from the NIV, nor were their sources identified (page 173-174). Not even in the notes. And a few passages were paraphrased so loosely that I didn't recognize them. I had to turn to the back to verify that they were Scripture quotations (the book, chapter, and verse are given in the notes). But they do get the point across, at least. I just wanted to know where they were from.
I recommend this book. It is clear and well-written. It is enjoyable to read. (I was going to read the introduction one evening, but then read the first 50 pages.) It is full of warmth; Dr. White is someone we want to spend time with. It is encouraging. It is inspiring. And it points us to God and to Christ.