The holidays for me consisted of seeing loads of food, eating loads of family and watching my favourite movies, like Willy Wonka.

This year will be a different one for us; we’ve a baby on the way. After making the (erroneous) joke offering my, as yet, unborn child to the nativity play as a baby Jesus, I got thinking. The nativity scene bothers me in many ways. It’s all so docile. But we’ll save that for another time.

As a prospective father I got thinking about the dad in the story; Joseph. He doesn’t get much attention, really. Mary gets all the glory. Fair enough, I suppose – she must have been proper spooked out. Tomi’s post excellently covered her.

I thought I’d have a look at Joseph to see how the adoptive father of Jesus gets on. I hope that’s theologically right. What can we men learn from a bloke like Joe?

1. He has humility

Joseph’s perceptions about his fiancée were wrong. But that’s fair enough. I mean who, on hearing their betrothed is pregnant, thinks: “Aye that’s probs the Lord’s work, that”. Nobody. That’s who.

On being corrected by an angel in his dreams, Joseph got on with the plans put in front of him. He might have squabbled like Moses did when he was told that God had chosen him. But it’s nicer to think he didn’t.

Before he knew God was behind Mary’s conception, he had the humility to recognise that his story wasn’t the most important.

Fellas, how many of us are quick to lay down our own plans for those of God?

2. He is mad honourable

Honour is a funny sentiment. Us millennials don’t really get it, in my opinion. It’s defined as ‘the quality of knowing and doing what is morally right’, and also to ‘regard with great respect.’

How many of us have been in a situation where we know the ‘right’ thing to do, but haven’t done it? Yeah. Me too. Doing the ‘right’ thing is tough. It usually means sacrifice. I think that’s where millennials struggle… we like accumulated stuff; either physical or unphysical: reputation and status, for example.

Joseph, despite being wrong, didn’t kick up a fuss and publicly shame her. He “didn’t want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.”

Gents, how many of us are happy to put our own agendas down and do what is best for those who have wronged us?

3. He is obedient

A common stereotype for man is the notion that he is the hunter-gatherer. He obeys only his own instinct as he seeks to survive in a world that is trying to provoke him. Alpha male doesn’t obey anyone. The biblical understanding of maleness couldn’t be further from that reality. This isn’t linked to just males, but let’s go with it.

Obedience doesn’t sit too well with our generation. Studies show our desire to be our own boss. Submission is the moral equivalent of quitting; of giving in. Dying to self is the level of obedience we’re presented with. Men are told to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. And how did he do that? Gold star for the first correct answer.

HE DIED FOR IT.

I’m married. So that applies to me. Wanna hear my most common response to that charge? Here it is: “Yeah ok, but at the next ad break.” The good news and bad news about obedience is that there’s no grey area. It’s one or the other.

Joseph responded immediately to what God was saying. “Joseph, marry pregnant Mary”; Joseph married her. “Joseph, go to Egypt”; Joseph packed up and left in the night. That trek, by the way, is over 400 miles. “Joseph, go to Nazareth”; Joseph went. You get the idea.

Men, are you being obedient to what God is asking?

4. He was a good father

There’s a strange tension that has to be held when talking about this. The Messiah was prophesied to come from the line of King David off of the Psalms. The first bit of Matthew goes to great lengths to describe how Joseph was part of this heritage. Except Jesus didn’t come from Joseph – he came from Mary. I imagine theologians have good answers on that one. I’m ok with that.

For me, the fact that Joseph accepted Jesus as his own son and raised him as such speaks volumes. He embraced Jesus as his own, to the extent that Jesus got questioned about it during his ministry (Luke 4:22).

Joseph endured the thousands of miles of harsh terrain to protect his boy from death, as well as giving up his own home. He worked hard enough as a carpenter to show Jesus how to make a living for 30 years before his ministry started.

The Bible doesn’t have many references to Joseph. He’s not the biggest part of the nativity story. That doesn’t mean he’s unimportant. Whatever your view on free-will/predestination, it’s safe to say God knew the kind of man Joseph was. He could admit to not knowing everything, he honoured those nearest him before himself, he was brutally obedient and raised a boy who wasn’t his by birth. And he probably had a sweet beard. What a man, what a man, what a mighty good man.

This list isn’t exhaustive. And isn’t exclusively for men. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Written by Thomas McConaghie // Follow Thomas on  Twitter // Thomas'  Website

Thomas is a coordinator for threads. He's an elder in his local church (Village Church Belfast), working on a Masters in urban planning and geeks out on football. He's married to Laura and the father of two-year-old Ezra.

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