Consider something for just a moment as we prepare for Christmas this week. Can you imagine a more difficult leadership role than being the earthly father of Jesus Christ? I cannot!
My goal is not to make this article an overtly spiritual one. However, given the Christmas Season and my thoughts at this time of year, some observations and some leadership lessons are unavoidable.
Just who was this man Joseph, the husband of Mary and the adoptive father of Jesus?
We really don’t know a whole lot about him other than what we read in the few places he is mentioned in the New Testament. Traditional Christian narrative and theology state that God chose Joseph to be the earthly father of Jesus. We can read in the Gospel of Matthew, that Joseph was a righteous man. His actions toward Mary, his betrothed wife (fiancé), revealed a great deal about his character. It demonstrates that he was a patient, kind, understanding, and sensitive man. When Mary told Joseph she was pregnant, he had every right to feel disgraced and humiliated. He knew the child was not his.
He had “rights”. Our rights have always been an important thing to us as individuals. Joseph not only had the right to divorce Mary but under Jewish law, she could be put to death.
Joseph’s initial reaction was to break the engagement. This was the culturally and religiously appropriate thing for a righteous man like Joseph to do. However, consistent with his character, he treated Mary with extreme kindness. He did not want to cause her further shame, so he decided to do what needed to be done quietly.
But that is not what happened. Instead, Scripture tells us that God sent an angel to Joseph. It may even have been the same angel that visited Mary to bring her the news that she was going to give birth to Our Lord. This angel verified the same story that Mary had told Joseph and reassured him that his marriage to Mary was still God’s will. In fact, it had been the divine plan all along. It is important not to lose sight of that fact. So, Joseph willingly did as the angel told him, in spite of the public humiliation he would face. Perhaps it was this quality that made him God’s choice for Jesus’ earthly father.
Beyond this and the story of the one time that Jesus was left behind following a pilgrimage to the Temple, the Bible does not reveal much detail about Joseph’s role as a father to Jesus Christ. However, we do know from Matthew 1, that Joseph was an excellent earthly example of integrity and righteousness. We know that Joseph trained Jesus in a very necessary trade of the times — carpentry. It was not glamorous. But, probably no one ever described Joseph in those terms.
Joseph is last mentioned in the Bible when Jesus was 12 years old and they made that annual visit to the Temple in Jerusalem. So really, all we know from written evidence is that Joseph passed on the carpentry trade to Jesus and that he raised him in the Jewish traditions and spiritual observances of the Law.
So, what is the Leadership Lesson here?
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