Public Square & Theology 101

My Newfound Appreciation for Joseph the Worker

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If someone were to ask me as a kid who my favorite character in the Bible (besides Jesus) was, I would have said Noah, David, or even Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Never Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus. As a seven-year-old, I didn’t think he seemed that exciting. He was kind of just there.

But today, as a young professional trying to navigate the seas of my calling, Joseph takes on a completely different meaning.

And I’m finding that I have severely underrated him.

Joseph is known to some Christian traditions as Saint Joseph the Worker or the patron saint of workers. By looking to Joseph’s example, I uncovered three insights that can apply to anyone in any job.

Our Work Is an Expression of Virtue

Joseph was a carpenter, as humbling an occupation then as it is today. While not much is known about the details of Joseph’s work, it likely offered him many opportunities to practice humility.

Most humbling was that God chose Joseph’s little workshop in Nazareth as the earthly surroundings and workplace for his Son, not the courts of princes or the halls of the learned.

The work of Joseph’s hands embodied humility, reminding us that we each have the opportunity to express virtue through our work.

In my job at IFWE, God is always giving me opportunities to practice discernment in my writing. Before I write a blog post, I spend time deliberating and seeking good judgment to decide what to write about and how to write it.

What virtues does God give you the opportunity to practice in your job daily? Diligence? Fortitude? Prudence?

Our Work Mimics God

Joseph reflected God’s nature while laboring away with his wood. Whenever he built, he imitated the way the Lord “built” the vast universe with wonderful skill.

Joseph likely had many opportunities to remind himself and others of God’s creative majesty through his carpentry.

My job often involves outreach and bringing people together over ideas. When I’m connecting people, I’m often reminded of Jesus, the greatest networker of all time.

I know it might sound silly to compare what I do to what Jesus did, but when we see how our work mimics God, we find a fuller sense of purpose.

How does your work signify Imago Dei?

We Are All Working alongside Christ

The thing I love the most about Joseph’s work is that he worked alongside Jesus. How awesome is that? And what a beautiful reminder it is to all of us: we all work alongside Christ every day.

Though Jesus is the perfect example, sometimes we overlook characters in the Bible who can encourage us in specific areas of our Christian walk.

When you find yourself dragging at work or wondering if what you do even matters to God, pray the prayer below and think about Joseph. His example will point you to Christ.

“Lord, thank you for the privilege to work side by side with Jesus, just as Joseph did in the carpenter shop of Nazareth. Show me how I imitate your nature in my work. Sanctify my work by presenting me with opportunities to practice virtue. Teach me to work for you and with you in the spirit of humility and prayer. Amen.”

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