Strengths in the Christmas Story, Part 2: Two Ways to Process Information

How God Used Mary and Joseph’s Strengths to Process Information

Throughout the Christmas story, Mary and Joseph demonstrate the value of different strengths.

God specially selected these two individuals to be Jesus’ earthly parents. He gave them  different strengths in solving problems, processing information, managing change, and facing risk.

Mary and Joseph used two distinct approaches in order to process information, yet each demonstrates different ways God uses people to accomplish His work.

Mary Trusted Information

Mary and Gabriel

Image: Rosa Tuffney

Mary’s encounter with the angel Gabriel was a bit disconcerting. Although in ancient times angelic visions were more accepted than today, a supernatural meeting was still considered to be extraordinary.

Nevertheless, once Mary asked a few questions about her pregnancy, she readily received the answers she was given.

As an Optimistic, Mary trusted the information presented to her by Gabriel and even rejoiced in it. “My soul magnifies the Lord  and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” she said. “For he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:46-48, ESV).  Mary processed information with acceptance.

Joseph Validated Information

Joseph, on the other hand, was in turmoil (Matthew 1:20). And why not? His fiancée was pregnant and the child was not his. The cultural expectation would be for him to end their relationship and potentially have a hand in Mary’s demise.

Yet Joseph is identified as a righteous man. In spite of his humiliation he did not want to publicly disgrace Mary.

Instead, he was careful to validate the information before acting. Scripture tells us he pondered the situation carefully and discreetly, considering all the facts and circumstances. When it came to processing information, Joseph was a Realistic.

While Joseph took his time processing, God graciously gave him what he needed: confirmation. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, verified the child’s paternity, and gave Joseph a course of action to pursue.

Processing Information: God Uses Both Optimistic and Realistic Strengths

The earthly parents of the Savior of the world needed strengths in order to carry out their call from God.

God used Mary’s strength to trust information and step out in faith as she carried the Christ Child.

God used Joseph’s strength in validating information as a strong foundation for the couple to move forward.

Trust and validation – both are strengths. God used them in sending His Son to us.

Whichever your bent in processing information, rest assured of this one truth: God can use your strength for His Kingdom’s sake, too.

Growth Point

God uses both Optimistic and Realistic strengths to build His Kingdom.


“My soul magnifies the Lord,  and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” she said. “For he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:46-48, ESV).

Prayer Points

  • When it comes to processing information, with whom do you identify more: Mary (Optimistic) or Joseph (Realistic)?
  • Name a time when your approach to processing information benefited another person.
  • Consider those in your family or on your team who processes information differently from you. Spend some time thanking God for the way their strengths complete you.

Strengths In the Christmas Story

Strengths in the Christmas Story, Part 1: Solving Problems Together

Strengths in the Christmas Story, Part 3: Two Ways to Manage Change

Ways the Disciples Used Their Strengths

Part 1: Managing Change – Let’s Go or Let’s Make a Plan

Part 2: Processing Information: That’s Wonderful or Give Me Proof

Part 3: Problem Solving: Fix It Now or One Step at a Time?

Part 4: Facing Risk: Outside the Box or Work the System