Saturday, January 19, 2013

Steady as she goes...

I work at a public university that, like many public institutions in today’s economy, is facing some budget challenges. This week there were a handful of lay-offs in my department because of a restructuring—likely one of many to come in the next year or so.

My first thought was relief it wasn’t me. Right behind that was compassion for those that did lose their jobs. Been there, done that, and it’s not fun. After time, it’s easy to see the fingerprints of God and how well he takes care of us, but that’s a thought for another day.

Being a provider for my family started consuming my thoughts. What if it was me that lost my job? Have I made decisions that will still allow me to provide the necessities of life for my family?

I’m not going to pretend to be a financial planner and give rules-of-thumb about savings and planning for the unexpected. That looks different for everyone. I am going to bring the role of provider to the forefront.

Being a provider is more than being the one who buys things for the family. We have material needs, and we shouldn’t ignore those. We have material wants, and we shouldn’t ignore those either. Nor should we give those wants too much attention. Do you know how many times in a day I hear, “I want a horse,” from my oldest daughter? Neither do I because it would be kinda like counting the times you blink in a day. I often respond, “I want a Ferrari too, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon.”

The role of provider is so much more than taking care of material needs. If God wanted nothing more from St. Joseph than to provide material needs for Jesus and Mary, I have serious doubts he would have chosen a carpenter.

Fathers need to provide stability: material, emotional, psychological and spiritual stability. Let’s quickly look at each.

Material. Bottom line for me, define the difference between needs and wants. Provide the needs. Teach the value of satisfying the occasional want. Start thinking of helping others satisfy their needs. In a nutshell, the virtue of temperance.

Emotional. There’s a reason men are generally less emotional than women—to offer emotional stability to the family. It doesn’t always work that way, but think of the emotional firecracker(s) in your house. Female perhaps? We have a volcano in our house. Yep, you guessed it. One of our daughters. Can you imagine what the flight to Egypt would have been like if St. Joseph was an emotional basket case? It wouldn’t have been the most subtle escape from Herod.

Psychological. I often say it’s our job as parents to warp our kids just enough to be worth a couple sessions of therapy. Normal is a relative term, so let’s not shoot for that. And how boring would the world be if we didn’t have eccentrics? Comfort, security, love and faith have to be provided and passed on for psychological stability. Don’t just give it to them, teach them to make good choices and take care of their own psychological stability.

Spiritual. The significance of St. Joseph’s role in the spiritual well-being of Jesus is what the incarnation is all about. I don’t think Jesus had some infused knowledge of prayer or worship of the Father. He was taught it. The Son emptied Himself of all the privileges He had through His divine nature to be one of the guys. That includes being a vulnerable kid that needed some direction. St. Joseph lived his faith and passed on spiritual stability to Jesus. Jesus developed the deepest possible relationship with His Father because he was taught it; he saw his parents embody the work and discipline relationships take every day. Just like our relationship with God—and all relationships for that matter—it takes work and discipline.

And…this post is getting longer than I want it to. Share your thoughts so we can continue the conversation.

St. Joseph, patron of fathers and families, pray for us.


  1. Yay for getting your blog up and going!! And...thanks for being the emotionally stable one in our house...and for trying to deal with the volcano.

  2. Bravo! Way to go Derrick getting your blog going... you can see mine has gotten rather dusty since 2010. And good article too. We're actually talking about "fatherhood" in our mens group right now, so it's some good food for thought!