Poor Joseph. The earthly father of Christ flies under the radar of most men who dive into Scripture. He’s not even the No. 1-ranked Joseph in the Bible when it comes to stories and Broadway musicals.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. – Luke 2:4-5 (NIV)
But just picture it. There he is, alongside that donkey, on the long road to Bethlehem with a pregnant wife and the Savior of the world in tow. At any point, Joseph could have given up hope, lost patience, been jealous or just walked away. He could have taken his donkey and gone home.
But he didn’t. God spoke to Joseph in a dream which lead to one of the most enduring acts of humble obedience in the Bible.
That’s where the rest of us come in.
This is Foundation Two of the Whole Donkey life: Supporting Your Wife and Kids.
Joseph had to know his role: Leading a household that was vitally important to the world. It wasn’t just about getting Mary to the manger on time, but doing all of the little things – providing, guiding and protecting – that would help his Son stay on the journey to where He needed to be when the time came.
That may be one of the reasons Joseph is underrated. All of the work he did in those early years is unwritten. The carpentry business had to keep buzzing while the Lord grew up, and Joseph had to remain a teacher to Son of God. Now we all might say “God had a plan, Jesus had a destiny” and I’m sure that’s right. Joseph knew that best of all, but he still did what he needed to do. He didn’t say “Catch you on the flipside, Jesus, good luck with the whole Savior thing.”
Joseph knew that his role was not about being the star of the show – we can all admit that Mary’s gotten a lot higher profile out of that deal – instead he knew just had to lead with love, consistency and obedience to God.
Too often, this whole father and husband gig gets bogged down by two extremes. (As always, these are my experiences and examples, and your mileage may vary). The two extremes are arrogance and passivity.
Either you want to run a dictatorship, whomping everyone over the head with Ephesians 5:22, without ever thinking about what it really means, or you want to bury your head in the closest digital screen and let Mom power through all of the problems on her own.
Neither of those scenarios play – either practically or Biblically. Just like Joseph, you have to know your spot and perform it to your utmost. Joseph wasn’t trying to fill Jesus’ role and he wasn’t trying to be Mary either. He was being a rock-solid Dad to whom the much was given and expected.
God blessed Joseph with Jesus, but burdened him with responsibility. That’s what we all take on as husbands and fathers.
So what’s the solution for being better in this area? It starts with just understanding what a donkey and a Joseph you are expected to be. You have to carry, support and lead the family you have created.
You have the gift of this role, so neither marriage or parenthood should be treated lightly. The decisions and investments you make have consequences in how your kids’ personalities are shaped and, when it comes down to it, the happiness and fulfillment of your Earthly life.
Take that into account with every move and decision you make.
As Scripture says, and I will repeat here in just about everything I write, “…. we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Remember WWJD – What Would Joseph Do?