Any man who’s a father looks at himself in the mirror every once in a while and wonders, “How did God ever decide that I was up to this job?”
Now, imagine being St. Joseph. He probably didn’t come across his reflection all that often, and it’s a good thing. He woke up every morning knowing that he was responsible for the well-being of both the Son of God and the Mother of God. If he had a mirror, he would have spent so much time staring at it in disbelief people may have mistaken him for a narcissist.
But the fact that God chose St. Joseph is the very thing that makes him the man any guy who becomes father should look to as an example. If it worked for St. Joseph with the monumental task God asked of him, how could it not work for us everyday dads?
What was Joseph’s secret? Let’s call it “love.” To be a father like St. Joseph, love like St. Joseph.
1) Love God
St. Joseph was a devout man who observed his faith and followed the Law of Moses. Yes, Jesus wandered off to the temple in Jerusalem to do the work of His Father in heaven, but the fatherly influence of St. Joseph’s devotion to that same God may have had something to do with motivating Jesus in His human nature.
For us everyday dads? This can be as simple as making sure our kids see us praying and that we pray with them, as well. Joseph took Mary AND Jesus to Jerusalem. Faith was a family thing for the Holy Family. We can also set an example at Mass, making it clear that we consider being there an important privilege. And how about taking an interest in understanding our Catholic faith beyond the Sunday homily. Talk about being Catholic on weekdays!
2) Love Work
We don’t hear a word from St. Joseph in Sacred Scripture, but we also don’t read about him turning down any task that was given to him. Whatever God asked Joseph to do, he did to the best of his ability. The Holy Family didn’t starve, so he must have been a dedicated provider. But he didn’t worship work. He picked up, at a moment’s notice, whenever God called, to focus on Mary and Jesus.
For us everyday dads? Don’t rack up unused vacation time as if the tally were a badge of honor. It’s not about TAKING the time we deserve from the company, but GIVING the time our families deserve from us. Time to be sure we know what’s going on in the lives of our wives and children. Work is a privilege, but kids should know it’s a privilege because it allows Dad to take care of the family and play a role in making God’s world run.
3) Love Her
Sure, St. Joseph was charged with protecting the Son of God, but that began with protecting God’s blessed mother. With just the word of a vision to go on, Joseph reached out a tender hand of devotion toward Mary as the first step toward being the foster father of Our Lord.
For us everyday dads? This isn’t the first place you heard this, surely—a child needs to know that Dad loves Mom. It’s not just about looking good in a child’s eyes. It’s about helping your son or daughter understand the depth of the love that resulted in his or her birth. The value of an impromptu hug or kiss in front of the kids can be big. So can the expression of love that comes from making it clear that Mom’s opinion matters and Dad wouldn’t be the man he is without her.
4) Love Silence
This one may sound odd but it makes perfect sense when you consider we don’t have even a single, “I’m home!” from St. Joseph recorded in Scripture. By being a man of few words, he was able to hear God when He called on him to act.
For us everyday dads? This can be as simple as turning off the television and listening to what’s happening in our homes. It can also mean keeping our mouths shut once in a while and paying close attention to what others are saying. We can also avoid patting ourselves on the back too much and simply doing what our vocation calls us to do without broadcasting our fatherly credentials to the world.
5) Love Others
This is a lesson that St. Joseph continues to actively teach us today, even though he left earth long ago. He has proven time and again over the centuries that he cares deeply about the people who seek his intercession.
For us everyday dads? We should take an interest in our community. Teach our children the importance of helping those in need. And in the simplest sense, we should teach them to keep their word when a promise is made and respond with generosity when someone asks for help.
A lot of the above seems exceptionally obvious but, any father speaking honestly will tell you, obvious things aren’t necessarily easy to do.
And that’s why we’re blessed to be able to say, “St. Joseph. Pray for us.”