Christmas Eve 2015 Special Edition: Joseph’s Story

How Far Can You See? 

As Christians around the world prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus tomorrow, a story of many remarkable people and many remarkable events will be told.  From a leadership perspective, there is one person…beyond the obvious…that has always fascinated me because of how central he was to outcome and how relatively little we know about him.  I’m talking about Joseph.

Joseph was in a real predicament.  His fiancé was pregnant under mysterious circumstances.  Besides the stigma associated with being an unwed mother at the time, the law afforded Joseph the opportunity to walk away from her and in doing so Mary would likely have been put to death in accordance with the law.  Yet, in defiance of every social norm but in compliance with God’s design, Joseph did an amazing and courageous thing…he stayed with the plan and loved Mary anyway.  This began the journey to Bethlehem where all was fulfilled and for that incredible leap of faith Joseph…most commonly became a footnote in the greatest moment of our faith.

Many times, leadership consistent with the philosophy of a Critical Doer ends much the same way.  A measure of merit for living as a Critical Doer, where deeds are accomplished through intellect and character, is not notoriety.  More than fame, the special talent of a Critical Doer comes in answering our question of vision…” how far can you see?”  Joseph could see past the custom of the day and far enough to see a new hope for all of mankind.  In doing so, he exhibited all 11 characteristics of a Critical Doer:

  1. Committed to thinking and acting. Joseph thought through the expectations of the law and the expectations of his faith…then made a decision and took action.
  2. Generates motion from “why” more than “what.” Without understanding purpose, Joseph would not have seen past the superficial and got to the substantial.
  3. Capitalizes on opportunities to be better. Scripture tells us Joseph engaged in thought and prayed for counsel.  Seeking mentoring is still a great way to improve and accomplish more.
  4. Keeps risk and failure in context with opportunity and success.  Despite the obvious risk, Joseph still took action following a thoughtful process of risk mitigation that involved Mary, the baby, and their future.
  5. Controls what is theirs to control. Joseph clearly took ownership of his circumstances and acted decisively.
  6. Attacks problems and creates opportunities from the inside out. In Matthew Chapter 1, Joseph thought critically through obeying the law and preserving Mary’s dignity.  He avoided the “either/or” trap of binary thinking that limits options and success.
  7. Willing to lead. He made the decision that enabled all the events that followed.
  8. Willing to follow. No greater example of compliance and innovation.
  9. Works as hard to develop strength of character as strength of talent. Joseph was right for the moment not because of special skill but because of special character.
  10. Understands time; long and short view. Joseph’s decision making addressed both short term and long term considerations.
  11. Servant spirit. There is no evidence that Joseph, conflicted as he must have been, ever asked “what’s in it for me?”  Doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do is a hallmark of the Critical Doer.

Critical Doers consistently use thinking skills to see things others do not.  As you celebrate this Christmas season, your challenge is to take an opportunity to find an even deeper level of appreciation for the miracle we know as Christmas.  Jesus is the reason we celebrate, and Mary’s display of courage, devotion and strength is for the ages.  But we also believe everything and everyone has a purpose; Joseph’s story of quiet strength encompasses a model of both thinking and doing.  Take the opportunity this Christmas to look even deeper at the account of Jesus’ birth and through Joseph’s story gain a greater appreciation of how thinking and acting changed the world.


So…how far can you see?


Best wishes to you and yours for a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!


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Updated: December 24, 2015 — 12:19 pm