Greatness; that’s our goal as men, right?
Whether we want to be a scientist or a lawyer or a football player, we want to be great. That’s a good thing because we are called to greatness by God. However, every great doctor or athlete or plumber or teacher had someone coach them.
If we’re going to be able to face the challenges and do what seems impossible in manhood today, we need a coach. If we want to be men of God, we have to be willing to learn. In our generation, I don’t think the problem is that you and I aren’t willing to learn. I think the problem is that there aren’t enough men willing to teach us.
Have you ever felt unworthy to do great things? I definitely have. A lot of us feel like even if God was calling us to do something big, we wouldn’t be right for it. Little lies have their way of sneaking in. Here’s the thing about lies and insecurities: they have to be sneaky. They stay in the dark, because if they were exposed to the light, we’d be able to see them for what they really are.
The Love of a Father
This is where dads come in. A father is supposed to make us feel secure. A father is supposed to chase away our fears. Often, fear has its roots in us worrying that we won’t have everything we need. Our dad’s love for us is supposed to be a mirror of the love God, the Father, has for us.
In God the Father’s love, we have everything we could ever need. When we’re rooted in that love, fear has no place. However, if we take our eyes off of that love and forget that we are His sons, fear and lies can creep in.
It’s pretty astounding how many of us believe the lies we hear every day, whether it’s from a bully, the media, our friends, or something we tell ourselves. On the other hand, God is always speaking truth into our lives — but often we can’t hear Him. There’s a lot of noise around us and God doesn’t seem to love shouting. Many times, He speaks in whispers (1 Kings 19:11-13). God has many channels through which He speaks to us.
A Holy Model
Though we don’t have any record of Joseph speaking in Scripture, we do have record of him listening. He listened to God on multiple occasions (Matthew 1:18-24, Matthew 2:13-14). Even though Joseph was a great father to Jesus, his biggest witness might be the way he allowed himself to be fathered by God.
For Joseph, a lie that could have crept in would be that he wasn’t a real father to Jesus since he wasn’t blood related, therefore making him totally unworthy of this task God called him to. Since Joseph didn’t have anything biologically to do with Jesus’ birth, this lie may have actually sound like truth at first.
The angel who came and spoke to Joseph in that first dream said to Joseph, “You are to name Him Jesus” (Matthew 1:20-21). God commissioned Joseph to name the child! That was primarily the duty of the father. Although Jesus’ name was preselected, God gave Joseph the honor of naming Him, as if to solidify Joseph’s fatherly role in Jesus’ life. Joseph didn’t need to doubt — he knew who he was because God said who he was. Even if others had their doubts, Joseph knew what God had done and was not going to be thrown off by the haters.
Furthermore, Mary confirms Joseph’s fatherly role when they find Jesus in the temple and she says “Your father and I have been looking for You with great anxiety.” Now God and Mary both confirmed it. He no longer has to ask himself, “Am I the right man for the job? Am I really called to be Jesus’ father?” Instead, he can focus on what God called him to and ask, “How can I do a better job?”
Joseph listened to God the Father and trusted in Him. Joseph dove into his role as a son of God. Sometimes being a son is one of the hardest things to do, especially when our dads aren’t perfect.
Boys Become Men
So many guys struggle with wounds from their relationship with their dad. I am one of them. We need to forgive our dads for the ways they’ve failed us. The first step is to trust in God, the Father, and believe we are His sons. We need to let His perfect love cast out all fear (1 John 4:18). We need to honor our dads and learn from their good qualities. Then, we can try to understand where they are coming from. They also had imperfect fathers who failed to love them perfectly. These small steps can eventually lead to a deeper understanding and healing in the relationship.
Whether our dads are awesome or not so awesome, whether they are around or not around, and whether we speak with them or not, they are family and they are our dads. They always will be. Growing up doesn’t mean no longer being a son. Joseph’s biggest lesson to us was that even as he became a father, he never stopped being a son.
So for right now, maybe that’s your focus. Just be a son. If you’re dad isn’t around, you’re still a son of God. And regardless of your vocation, you’ll someday be called to be a father figure. This is the great journey us men go on — we transform from boys to men, from sons to fathers.
Joseph shows us that being a good father is rooted in being a son. He shows us how to keep trusting in the face of doubts and weakness.
Loving like St. Joseph isn’t impossible. Being a great man, son and father is not out of your reach, but it’s not easy either. Fight for it.
Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Dom’s new book, available now in the Life Teen Store.