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3 Leadership Lessons from Joseph

I often feel sorry for Joseph. He doesn’t say much in the Bible. He didn’t ask for the story to happen the way it did. Who knew he would be engaged to a young girl who would bear the Messiah? The odds of that occurring to a man are quite low.

He evidently died before seeing His son fulfill God’s promise. Life was much more fragile 2000 years ago than it is for us today (despite viruses and other evidence of creation groaning).

Nonetheless, I want to be like Joseph for these three simple reasons.

1. Joseph was obedient to the Lord’s command.

When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him… (Matthew 1:24).

I pray that when the Lord calls me to love, I’ll love. When the Lord calls me to speak a word of encouragement, I’ll speak it. When the Lord invites me to pick up my cross in service for my neighbor, I’ll pick it up.

Obedience to the Lord’s command is only made possible because Jesus was obedient to His Father’s command. Jesus picked up His cross, bore it to Calvary’s hill, and His perfectly obedient blood covers my sin.

May my obedience to the Lord’s commands, though imperfect, be a testimony to others…like Joseph.

2. Joseph handled stress well.

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn (Luke 2:7).

The scene was stressful. It was not the idyllic scene many of us conjure up in our heads. Jesus evidently came more quickly than expected. Joseph probably didn’t imagine the birth of the Messiah taking place in what seemed a dank cave with a feeding trough the only bed. Nonetheless, Joseph rallied around plan B. Praise Jesus!

When you’re faced with stress, don’t give up. Adapt. Adjust. Get it done. Find a way. Ask for help. Plan B does not mean failure. Plan B is intelligent. Life doesn’t go the way we plan. We can’t control how life unfolds in this broken world.

Joseph later handled the stress of forgetting 12-year-old Jesus in the temple. I imagine Joseph saying, “Well, honey, we’ll just loop back to Jerusalem and go look for him. Remember the stress of Jesus’ birth? I’m pretty sure God is going to take care of our son. It’s going to be okay.”

Joseph, in some earthly sense, from that very first night in Bethlehem, passed on this resilience to Jesus. Jesus’ first miracle would be keeping the wedding party going by offering plan B in the midst of stress.

3. Joseph was an excellent father.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52).

Joseph successfully raised God made man. Joseph taught Jesus. I imagine he taught Jesus how to be wise, how to be respectful and respected by others, how to relate to others, how to courageously challenge authority, how to speak for the voiceless, how to work hard with one’s hands and mind, and how to keep promises no matter how painful the consequences.

Joseph taught Jesus how to be a man.

This reality is often overlooked. We think Jesus just “popped” out of the womb and knew everything there was to know about growing up in first-century Israel. This would not be true. While Jesus could not sin, He still needed to know how to connect to His culture for the sake of His mission.

Joseph helped Jesus grow up.

What a guy. I want to be more like Joseph in 2023. I pray you do as well.

Merry Christmas from the Unite Leadership Collective!

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