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The Cloud of Witnesses

Former title Lessons From the People of the Bible


Joseph of Nazareth

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Lesson 5: Joseph of Nazareth – The Spiritual Leader Of The Family


Luke 2:21-40.

The Spiritual Leader Of The Family

Joseph and Mary were steeped in Jewish tradition, handed down from generation to generation. They chose to continue those traditions even in the face of adversity. However, what amazing experiences they would have missed had they chosen to ignore them. They would have missed both Simeon and Joanna's prophecies, which must have given them so much unexpected encouragement.

Traditions and habits have negative connotations these days, don't they? Yet, there are good traditions and good habits. Traditions often help build community and certainly help build strong relationships within a family. No doubt you remember the Christmas traditions your family enjoyed in the past. Researchers tell us that where there are strong traditions in the family, the children tend to be more well-rounded and able to adjust to change.

In fact, they encourage us to establish our own family traditions. Traditions don't have to be expensive – like spending Christmas in Hawaii every year – more like switching off the TV or XBox for a hour, and each family member sharing the highlight of the previous year. Or having a family meal once a month, even when all the kids have grown up and have families of their own.

There are good habits as well as bad habits. It used to be the habit to go to church every Sunday – now it seems it is to the shopping mall instead.

However, good habits are only of benefit when parents and children do it together. For example – if you think your children would benefit from attending church – don't just send them; attend church with them – otherwise, they will become confused, and they will be turned off.

In our fast-paced world that focuses so much on the pursuit of money and self-achievement, it is so easy to ignore Eternity and forget that this world is not all there is to life.

As parents and leaders, we should constantly keep before us the fact that we are pilgrims on a journey, which has its climax, not on earth, but in Eternity. Consequently, we should be forming habits and traditions within our sphere of influence, which will prepare our children and followers for that even greater experience of Eternity.

Most young people are looking desperately for something which is worth spending their lives on – something greater than things and temporary enticements, money or even awards – these things all tarnish in time and can leave an empty void. When that happens, our souls cry out for something far greater. Creating a habit of considering Eternity is well worth the investment.

Having Eternity as our vision and goal will enable us to live more effectively and securely while on earth. It will enable us to choose values, which transcend the urgent and absorb the important. It will enable us to consider others, rather than just concentrating on ourselves and our happiness. If we are truly to benefit humanity and the society in which we live, we need to live for a cause greater than ourselves and be prepared to give our lives for what we hold dear.

Joseph of Nazareth would say to us today...

You have a responsibility to spiritually lead and guide your family. Your children will follow your lead. They will copy whatever you do or don't do. Think about it.


Father, please help us remember that we are the ones our children will use as their primary role models. Help us be consistent, real and vulnerable. Help us also to try and establish good eternal values in our lives so that we pass on good eternal values to our children. Amen.

Additional readings

Deuteronomy 6:1-12; Genesis 6:8-7:1; Joshua 24:14-31.


What do you do to show that you are the spiritual leader of your family?

How could you improve?

What spiritual legacy are you currently modelling to your family?

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