After a decade in the advertising business, in 1984 I founded my own company. The prosperity of the next 10 years lifted me to near financial independence.
After a decade in the advertising business, in 1984 I founded my own company. The prosperity of the next 10 years lifted me to near financial independence.
At the peak of my achievements, my wife and I bought a 13-acre estate. This idyllic setting included a meandering stream and a pasture for our horses. To house them, we built a four-horse barn, with an apartment upstairs. We planned to live there while constructing our dream house on a nearby hilltop. To the world, my situation looked fantastic. At home, it was a different story. Our marriage had been in trouble for years, sending us to numerous counselors in a desperate search for solutions.
Though optimistic we would resolve our problems, in March of 1994 my wife told me, "Os, I want a separation. I'm moving into the apartment with Charis (our daughter.)" My heart froze. I knew the situation was serious, but assumed we would experience a breakthrough in counseling. "Divorce" wasn't part of my vocabulary.
As devastating as this separation was, soon after a series of ruinous crises struck my business and finances. First, our biggest client - who represented 70 percent of our billings - decided to end a seven-year relationship. To make matters worse, the company disputed a major campaign we had just completed and refused to pay our $140,000 invoice. Less than a month later, I noticed an investment company that managed some of my business and personal funds had stopped sending reports. When I checked, I learned the firm had gone bankrupt and a founder had embezzled my money.
A few weeks later another investment company collapsed. That cost me twice as much. But what really hurt was my widowed mother lost a major portion of money she had invested on my advice. Unbearable guilt plagued me.
Just when I thought it couldn't get worse, the vice president of my company came to see me. The manager of our second-largest account, he had been like a brother."Os, I'm leaving to form my own advertising agency," he said. That was shock enough, but a few days later I learned he had taken our second-largest account, a violation of the non-compete agreement he had signed. Ultimately, I decided not to contest it. But when my marriage finally collapsed, I felt as if I were paddling a rowboat with 10 holes while trying to bail out the water.
While trying to keep my company from bleeding to death, I struggled to maintain a relationship with my daughter, who was hurting worse than me. The more that went wrong with my life, the angrier I became. I blamed my wife, the investment companies and my ex-business partner for these tragedies.
Struggling on, I tried to patch my sinking ship back together. I desperately sought reconciliation with my wife, but she wouldn't budge. Trying to recoup my investments proved to be a lost cause. Finally, I reduced my agency to one employee-me-and still lost money.
Ironically, this all happened while I was a faithful church member and follower of Jesus Christ. I had often told others that He was the answer to any problem they had. When He didn't seem to offer any solution for mine, I got very angry at God. That is, until about two years after my marital separation, when I went to meet with a Swedish businessman named Gunnar Olson.
The founder and president of the International Christian Chamber of Commerce (ICCC), he was a busy man. The day we talked, Olson was preparing for an international conference, yet acted as if he had all the time in the world.
When I met with him and a member of the ICCC board, Gunnar asked me to tell him about myself. I briefly sketched my experiences in business and church activities, including leading a men's Bible study.
However, that had all gone down the drain, I told him."To be candid, I'm not even sure why the Lord has led me here today," I concluded. "I only know that I feel like a complete failure. I know this sounds terrible to say, but it's true: I feel that God has abandoned me."
To my surprise, Olson and his companion looked at each other and laughed!
"Os, please don't be offended," Olson said when he saw the shock on my face. "We're not laughing at your pain but at the amazing way God works. We're simply astounded that the Lord keeps bringing people to us who have stories like yours!"
"I've been feeling as I were the only one," I said.
"Oh, you're hardly alone," Olson said. "Your story fits a pattern so common I have a name for it: the Joseph Calling. Os, you're not a failure. God has placed a Joseph Calling on your life."
Gunnar reminded me of the Old Testament story of Joseph, an innocent man who suffered betrayal, mistreatment and false imprisonment. Yet these setbacks prepared him to become a great leader.
"Like Joseph, God calls some leaders to experience extraordinary levels of adversity in order to accomplish extraordinary things through them," Olson continued. "God will use this adversity for good in your life and in the lives of others."
Seeing things in this light revolutionized my outlook. I realized God had been dealing with me the same way, allowing my trials to prepare me for a larger leadership role.
Now, my situation didn't change overnight. I would be separated for three and a half years before my marriage would end in divorce and my life's savings would be gone. After that meeting, it took five more years to recover from my financial and personal calamities. Along the way, God revealed some painful realities.
For one, I learned that I have the kind of personality that demands to be in control. The two forces driving me were fear and pride. First, I was afraid if I didn't control every situation I would lose control of my life. I realize now that my fear-based addiction to control was corrosive to my marriage. My problem with pride-based control was based on wanting to maintain a good public image of a successful businessman with a strong Christian family. I couldn't let anyone know I had flaws or lacked competence in any area.
However, God also showed me that I have strengths as well: gifts, talents and abilities that He can use to encourage others.
He also helped me reach reconciliation with my former vice president. A few years after he left, he asked me for forgiveness. I have since counseled him during his time of adversity. Exactly seven years after I entered my adversity God restored all I'd lost. God brought a wonderful lady into my life named Angie and we married in 1998. God restored my finances, allowing me to pay off all my debts and become debt free in my personal and business life. And, He has birthed a whole new calling upon my life that has allowed me to write ten books and speak in twenty countries since 1994. I've learned that like Joseph, my adversity is being used to help encourage others who have gone through adversity in their lives. I learned that God desires to resurrect our lives from the "pit" when we seek Him with all of our hearts. No matter what your Joseph experience looks like, such as loss of a career, marital crisis, or loss of health, this much I know: God will turn your adversity into something good if you allow Him to.
Like me, those who follow Christ won't always have smooth sailing. However, they will join the company of people who have been tested and refined for God's purposes. He is getting ready to use you in a mighty way, turning your valley of despair into a door of hope.
A noted author, businessman Os Hillman is the founder of Marketplace Leaders, an organization that helps people fulfill their destiny through their work. His latest book is entitled The Upside of Adversity: From the Pit to Greatness. To order resources by Os Hillman click on the Get Equipped link to the right of this page.
Visitor Comments (17)
May God continue to show you HIS favor
Posted by JOYCE JONES • Thursday, February 28, 2013
GOD is good. What an amazing story. May GOD continue to Bless and Protect you. May HE smile on you and be gracious to you and may HE continue to show you HIS Favor and give you HIS Peace (Numbers 6:24-26).
what a wonderful God we serve joyce jones email@example.com
I am encouraged
Posted by BJENKYNS@GMAIL.COM • Thursday, February 21, 2013
I had to read your testimony and consider what I am going through. I'm working on a divorce from a marriage that lasted a couple of weeks. She has been abusive and I know God has a special plan for me but its not easy to face "His silence" in it all. Thanks again. B. Jenkyns of Melissa Farmlands Int'l.
YES, God Can Use Our Wounds
Posted by GINGERHAAN • Wednesday, January 16, 2013
I just read a quote from "Experiencing the Father's Love" and then Googled you to find this website. How revealing!! My now deceased first husband (who was a minister) left our family and entered into the world of homosexuality. God dealt with me about my 'sins of the heart' which He let me know were as bad in His sight as 'sins of the flesh.' Pride, self-righteousness, resentment, self-pity, judgmentalism and others were brought to my attention, one by one. As I faced and confessed each one, God was slowly showing me how to love unconditionally. By God's grace, my husband returned home and confessed his sin. God forgives but rarely removes the consequence of our sin. My husband had become HIV and eventually died of AIDS. But he was redeemed and our church surrounded us with love and compassion. We shared our story publicly, and I'm now involved in working with other families who have a gay loved one. Yes, God used my wounds, our wounds to bring ministry to others who are wounded. Thank you.
My actual name is Joseph
Posted by CHANDLERMUSIC • Sunday, April 03, 2011
My wife and I are doing our Sunday morning devotions together and are reading up on who you are and what your ministry is. I was informed by my best friend, David Webster, that I'll be doing the worship and music for 2 of your events in Los Angeles.
Your testimony is encouraing that there is light at the end of the tunnel as I too, have gone through nearly 8 years of unexplainable loss and discouragement.
As a once successfull Recording Artist, a car accident I was in reshaped my music and put an anointing in it that I wouldn't have had without the tragedy.
You can read more about it Os on my website, which is www.josephchandlermusic.com and I thank you for your encouragement.
Joseph and Linda Chandler
Laguna Niguel, Ca.
Your testimony convicts
Posted by LORIAE • Thursday, July 22, 2010
Thank you, Mr. Hillman, for your TGIF articles and for this testimony. I switched from a non-bible based church to a bible-based church about 11 years ago. Though I have had greater peace and joy in my life, my work life in a corporate setting fell apart. I no longer could motivate myself through perfectionism and fear. It became meaningless to me. God stood by, with financial undergirding to this point. I sold my condo and moved in with my parents while relocating to SC. I am 51 and wonder where my life is going, where He wants it to go. I appreciate your humility in sharing your struggles with pride and perfectionism. Your articles bring encouragement every day. I pray to be able to hear God's voice more clearly. Blessings to you and your family.
Suffering and PAIN
Posted by EVELYN KEMP • Monday, July 19, 2010
I read something you wrote on suffering and pain and what hit me was this "Many times I find this person has not experienced enough pain to want to do anything about their situation."
So here is how I feel about your words of encouragement. You have not walked with pain in your body for months and months and months and still looked up each day saying 'God is Faitfhul and and He will bring me through. " You have not seen your body seeping out of your system in a wound and still have faith that God wil turn it around. You have no idea what you wrote when you said... they did not have enough pain to ..... whatever it is you think you wanted them to achieve in your understanding of God. I hope that when you have pain like this, when you have to live in the position I live in, that you are brave enough to remember your words and remember that the suffering you go through now, is not enough. There is more.
Thanks for sharing your story Os
Posted by MARTYSCHERR • Wednesday, February 17, 2010
I have been receiving your daily emails for a while now, but I didn't know a whole lot about your or your story. I decided I wanted to know more and I found this posting today. Thank you for sharing your story as I can relate with much of it. My story is somewhat similar in the sense that I have worked in the business world for several years and God has allowed my experience to be less than stellar. For the past five years I believe that God has been calling me into full time Christian ministry and I have been in pursuit of that goal since then. However, it's been a struggle to transition for the marketplace into direct ministry service. Maybe it will take seven years for that transition to be complete. I'm glad to hear that God has restored your life and allowed you to serve Him and His purposes in your life. Take care and God Bless you Brother!
Posted by LATLJOHN • Thursday, April 23, 2009
Very encouraging and inspiring testimony! I love your devotionals and they have helped me so much in finding my own career path according to God's purpose for my life.
Os Hillman Testimony
Posted by ADEOLA@WE-CAN-LEADERSHIPINSTITUTE.COM • Monday, September 24, 2012
Thank you for sharing your testimony. A friend sent me TGIF some months ago and I kept wondering what your testimony was as you always referred to it. I decided to search the internet and found this site. Apart from the trials, what really impacted me was your self reflecting and honesty about your 'pride' and 'fear'. When we go through the refinement process, we also need to ensure we understand what God is refining in our lives. I believe this would also determining how long our test lasts and requires humility. Thank you for sharing.
I said, you must be a Joseph too!
Posted by FELLOWSHIP HILLY • Friday, June 15, 2012
For about a year now I have been getting your e-devotionals. Your prayers read just like the ones in my journals. I said to myself, this man must be a Joseph too! After reading your testimony I was so encouraged! Thank you for being obedient to God and allowing him to use your story to encourage others. That also is my prayer and I am seeking God to open the doors for my story to make a difference and bring hearts close to His! God bless you brother!
God's Powerful Network
Posted by JCLARKSON • Saturday, February 12, 2011
Reading TGIF each morning, I wanted to know more about your story and found your testimony online. Thank you for sharing. But what made me sit upright was reading how God used Gunnar Olson as a turning point in your life.
I had heard of Gunnar Olson(and also first heard of Os Hillman) from a previous mentor of mine who was a friend of Gunnar's through the International Christian Chamber of Commerce. God's network is powerful and He uses it in ways that are unexpected.
Thank you for sharing your testimony and for being such encouragement to those of us ministering in the 9 to 5 window.
I've Discovered I'm a "Joeseph"!
Posted by DAZZLING DOLLY • Thursday, October 21, 2010
Thank YOU , Os the time to write your Testimony.
I found this because a fellow Believer posted it up on anther site.
I KNOW this was from the Lord's hand..
just for ME. :>)
I found the whole thing very uplifting, encouraging, and insightful.
The honesty is very refreshing from many "spiritual" leaders who preach how everything is so glorious and wonderful if you just ask Jesus into your heart.
The Church I got saved at was amazing for their teaching of the Scriptures, but rarely did anyone ever share the truth about their own personal issues.
I thought I was a horrible failure as a Christian.......and even doubted my Salvation in the beginning because things kept going wrong for ME.
As recently as last week I'd been believing my life was a lot like Job's........as I know that Satan has been attacking me for many, many years.......and telling me to just commit suicide...........that things are NEVER going to get any better.
And there have been days when death looked inviting........so I really identified with Job when he said it would have been better if he had never been born........
As a Believer for over 33 years........there have been times I truly questioned whether God really cared about me after all..........there have been sooo many losses and trials in my Christian walk.........even up to this last year when ANOTHER financial "mess" had really taken it's toll.
Last May, in the midst of what I thought couldn't possibly get any worse.....My daughter gave birth to a boy who has physical disabilities.........and she, her husband and 4 year old son had to come and live with me........in my VERY small
two bedroom basement suite........with the larger bedroom being my home office.
They had to have access to Specialists and the Hospital for the surgeries the baby would need.........(He's now had three)
WHAT A DEVASTATION...AT FIRST! I thought nothing had prepared me for this.
The first five weeks were the hardest as we were all in a state of shock.
We prayed, cried, and read verses together, spoke our fears out loud.....cried some more......prayed some more.......every day, many times just to help us get through an hour at a time. Or a day.
These were some of the roughest times I've ever experienced.
This was MY hardest "test of faith". Would God who loves us allow THIS?
YES, He would. If I kept saying I believe that EVERYTHING happens for a reason and that I would trust the Lord, no matter what....then THIS was meant to happen too.
With all the lessons I had learned from previous "trials", I was able to quickly accept the situation......and just be there for my daughter and son-in-law in their time of great need. We managed to live together for three whole months without killing each other or damaging our relationships permanently. :>
It turned out the strength and wisdom I'd gained through my many years of dealing with sooooo many issues, and continuing to TRUST the Lord that everything was happening exactly the way it was supposed to.......is the very thing that
helped us ALL be able to withstand this new "challenge".
My daughter confessed to me more than once that it was MY faith in God, no matter what happened that encouraged her all along.......and the fact that I stayed (Mostly)
loving, kind, giving, encouraging to others', and didn't get bitter........that kept her from giving up............and that My honesty with her about my struggles and pain...are also what gave her the freedom to be honest about her own frustrations without fear of being judged.
We have "grown" and grown tremendously close this last 17 months, and my relationship with my Son-in-law is amazing. Both grandchildren have flourished.
After reading Os's story.........I now feel more like a Joesph........and believe the financial Blessings are going to come at long last.
I've always believed I was going to be hugely wealthy so I could help others'.
As an Entrepreneur, I've experienced both poverty and short times of wealth....but NOW I believe this is my year for the stability the Lord promises.
Thank You, so much.
Os Hillman testimony
Posted by KARIENNE NIEHAUS • Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Amazing! I'm at a place of testing in my life, and relate to the description: most difficult of my life! God gave me a word last week, telling me that by the end of 7 years, I will be restored. I thought well... it's been more than 7 years. Holy Spirit said: "count the years" I WAS AMAZED! this comming saturday, 18 September 2010, WILL BE 7 YEARS! Praise God! But still I will wait for the Lord to move, I will not run in front! but I can promise you I'm waiting to see the fog move and the trumpet blow, like never before! Thank you Os! Karienne Niehaus South Africa
Posted by CHRISMERRITT • Monday, October 26, 2009
Thank you for your great encouragement. At 59, am at the end of my own ghastly, 7 year story, and your article explains many things. Of interest is that from the beginning of my 20 years as a Christian I was always being compared to Joseph due to several circumstances, but we were still not prepared for the last 7 years. Like you, horrendous things happened that could easily destroy any non believer. I cannot go into it, but suffice it to say that any other "god" would never be able to do what our God can do.
Yours in Christ, Christopher MerrittI
testimony and thanks
Posted by DIAOCHAPLAIN@YAHOO.COM • Monday, July 13, 2009
Dear 0s Hillman,
Greetings and Blessings to you.
I experienced similarly what you have gone through and closely to Joseph's own story. I was then confused and lost.. do not know what to do , what direction to take. I lost many things, job, church people, friends, dignity and income.
Even my wife and children can not understand.. it is affecting their attendance in our church... since am their pastor.
until, i found your story..
0s, am thankful to your transparency... it makes me clearly understand where I am going... I surely know that the Lord is the one leading me.He will also make my family understand. Thank you again.
God bless you and the many Josephs out there who are waiting to be called by the king/Pharaoh to come out from their pit.
Pastor balmis T Diao Jr
Davao City, Philippines
I am there now
Posted by JAMES@JAMESJBAKER.COM • Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I read your TGIF stuff all the time. I hope someday to meet you. After eight years with the same consulting company, I was brutally laid off.
I am actually having to take some of my own advice. Fear and worry are huge motivators and something God warns us not to do.
This is not the first time I have been down. I have seen God work miracles. For the last year, I feel God has been preparing me for something else.
Again, God through you has somedays sent me just what I need to hear.
All the best, Jimmy
Posted by KINGSKID • Monday, February 23, 2009
I am surprised to be the first to respond to your testimony. It is timely for me.. and inspiring as I have felt God's calling through my own wilderness experience.
Do you ever feel condemned? Do you have trouble experiencing God's love? Did you grow up with very little verbal affirmation in your life? Do you reject the love of others? Do you feel you are not worthy of other people's love? Do you have relationships that often end because you reject people because of what you think they are doing to you? Is it hard to maintain long-term relationships? If you answered yes to any of these questions you may be impacted by a spirit of rejection.
Have you ever felt like the God that many preach from the pulpit often does not connect with your personal experience with God? Many of you know I have just completed a four month sabbatical. During this time I spent a great deal of time seeking the Lord about many areas in my life. I read over 30 books during my sabbatical time and spent many hours alone with God. There was one theme I pondered and studied a lot. That theme dealt with the nature of God and His ways with His creation. There are 8 conclusions I have come to as a result of my time that I wish to share with you in hopes you will have a better understanding of the nature of God and how He often relates to us as His creation.
Whether you believe it or not, there is a purpose of the Wilderness. In the Old Testament, many of us have heard preachers and teachers of the Word of God mention that this 40 year ordeal of wandering in the wilderness could have been just a few week journey, but they never go into detail of the specific purpose of the Wilderness. Learn 3 major reasons for the wilderness.