Honoring Joseph and effective stepfathers


     “Because Joseph, her husband, was faithful to the law and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” – Matthew 1:19


     Joseph knew three things: 1) He loved Mary, 2) he did not want to embarrass her, and 3) this was not his child!


     Have you ever considered that first conversation between him and Mary?


     “Joseph … ummm … errr … well, you see, honey … I’m not sure how to explain this, but … I’m pregnant and, well … I’m not sure how.”


     Joseph, blinking, mouth slightly open. After an eternal 60 seconds: “You’re not sure how?”


     “Well, yes … to be clear, I’ve not been with anybody! It’s a God thing!”


     I have no idea what Joseph was feeling, but if I put myself in his shoes, I “get it.” Scripture is clear: Had an angel not appeared to Joseph, he was out of there. Gratefully, he stayed.


     We know so little about Joseph; the Bible says so little about his life. We see him in the first couple of years of Jesus’ life. We see him again when Jesus is 12 at the temple. Then, poof, he exits stage right. Most scholars agree he died.


     What we DO know is that Joseph proved to be a good stepfather. Let me point out three ways we know that:


     First, he embraced Mary based on his relationship with God. I don’t know if Joseph struggled at times, second-guessing the whole story. But our only snapshots of him showed his faithfulness “to the law.” He had internal fiber. He had the character to be the Son of God’s stepfather.


     Effective stepfathers have the character to love their wives fully, regardless of circumstances.


     Second, he invested wholly in Jesus. Joseph was a carpenter. Throughout Jesus’ life and scripture, others referred to Him as a carpenter. Joseph gave of himself in a way that marked Jesus’ identity before man.


     Effective stepfathers invest all of who they are into their stepchildren.


     Third, he accepted Jesus as his own. Not only did he invest his life in Jesus, but Joseph also embraced Him as “his.” During His ministry, Jesus was identified as “Joseph’s son.” Whatever waves of uncertainty, whatever late nights he stayed up wondering, Joseph fully identified Jesus as his son.


     Effective stepfathers embrace stepchildren as their own.


     I’ve had the privilege of seeing several effective stepfathers in my life. Tim and Lisa Atwood, Matt and Emily Davis, Todd and Kain Sandridge. It’s a beautiful picture.


     In the most beautiful picture? God the Father adopted us.


     Praying that all the stepfathers this season will celebrate the joy of God’s treasures entrusted to you! 

Dan Hall is an executive and strategic coach to leaders and executive teams. He also works with organizations on team building, conflict resolution and communication skills. He and his wife, Hazel, have six children and four grandchildren. You can reach him at